TIPS for Creative Echo Effects

Have you ever wondered why an echo effect on an instrument or vocal sounds so much better in some productions compared to your own? I’ll show you… here are some quick TIPs to really get a great sounding echo effect.

EQ your effects

Before you send your audio to an effect channel, make sure you EQ the incoming audio a bit. I get the best results by using a slow (6dB/oct) low-cut filter around 300Hz, and a slow 5K high-cut filter. This filters out the boomy low-end and the harsh reflecting top-end. It makes your effect sound warm and realistic.

PS: Even if you just want to add a delay on one instrument instead of re-using it, it would be best to send your audio to a separate FX bus. The main reason being: it becomes easier to reduce or increase the volume of your effects chain later in the mix, or to EQ your effects chain in case it starts to clutter-up other parts of your sound.

Push your delay into a reverb

A delay never comes alone. Add a mixed (25%) reverb after your delay to create a more organic, lush and smooth effect. No need for early reflections or delay per-see, just to smear out the audio a bit.

Compress your sound

Now finally, add a clean compressor at the end of your effect, to really squash that sound together. If you want, you can further EQ your sound with a wider but steeper low and high-cut filter to clean out the created effect.

Here is an example on how that could look like. The effects are in sequenced in serial in the effects chain, from top-left tp bottom right.

You’ll be amazed on how much of a difference the EQ, Reverb and Compressor makes – especially on lead sounds and pads.

Use your delay to create rhythm

When I started learning about music production, I only used ping pong delays for a stereo effect. Why? Because it sounds nice. It also creates a lot of problems: phase shifts in your sound, difficult to create a clear mono mix, does not translate well to devices… And why is that? Because a ping-pong delay usually doesn’t follow the grove of your track.

Now a days, I only use delay effects if they can add to the rhythm of the general sound. Try using a Tape or Slap delay (one single repeat of the sound) with a very low (20%) feedback, some drive and let it feed into a very lush reverb. For example:

PS: I omitted the EQ and compressor in the previous example, as these are more or less the same. But, they are there.

Instant gratification on moving synths right there! 🙂

Reverse it!

The following tip will work GREAT on Vocals (maybe not the entire vocal, but parts of it). Try this:

  • Reverse your vocal sample
  • Apply a slap delay echo, some reverb, or any echo combination you may like
  • Bounce or render that sample back to audio, so that the effect(s) is(are) rendered in the reversed vocal sample
  • Now, reverse the rendered vocal sample back so you can understand it again
  • Finally, use some automation to fade in/out the reversed echo effect where appropriate.

Instant fun! 🙂

Do you have a golden tip on how to create a lush echo? Let us know in the comment section.

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