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Echoing Acoustics

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"The reverb on Eddie's mic, by the way, is set at like 7 on the Richter scale. Seriously, there's so much echo it sounds like he's singing in the Dwarf halls of Khazad-dûm."
The Agony Booth recap of Eddie and the Cruisers II: Eddie Lives!

Echo and reverb—two sides of the same coin. Where the echo refers to the reflection of a sound that's heard after the original sound is played, reverberation is a mass of echoes that makes the sound persist in a certain space after the original sound is played, decaying very slowly.

Echoes and reverb can be used to give something a "massive", imposing sound, as Power Echoes demonstrates. At the same time, a shorter echo can be used to provide a harsher, more ghoulish effect, as demonstrated in much of the UK Post-Punk and Goth Rock scene. Echoing Acoustics refers to the use of lots of (often electronic) echoes and reverb in music. This isn't that bad—for every album where one can't make out the lyrics because they're buried in layers upon layers of reverberation, there are albums where this trope is deployed to create something that sounds damn cool.

Variations include reverse echo and reverse reverb are sound effects created as the result of recording an echo or reverb effect of an audio recording played backwards, giving it a ghoulish sound to it. The original recording is then played forwards accompanied by the recording of the echoed or reverberated signal which now precedes the original signal. The process produces a swelling effect preceding and during playback, creating a freakish feel to the sound.



  • This trope can be frequently found in Psychedelic Rock or any genre influenced by Psychedelic Rock.
  • Rock and roll used a lot of echo effects to give the songs a bit more punch, from a single "slap echo" to a whole bunch of echos, all produced by tape loops with multiple playback heads one after another.
  • The Verve's early albums Verve and A Storm in Heaven used this trope heavily for psychedelic effect.
  • Spiritualized's material between Lazer Guided Melodies and Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space uses this a lot.
  • The dream pop genre, represented by This Mortal Coil, Dead Can Dance and Cocteau Twins, lived and breathed this trope.
  • Yes' "Leave It" intro—a typical 1980s reverb-saturated production.
  • Perry Farrell, the lead singer of Jane's Addiction, can't resist adding Power Echoes to his voice. Go ahead, name a single JA song without any reverb or echo on his voice. Also, on Nothing's Shocking, since it was made in 1988, producer Dave Jerden threw a ton of gated reverb over the drums. Despite how these sentences sound, that's actually not a bad thing, since it makes the drums sound punchier and Farrell way larger-than-life.
  • This trope was a hallmark of music producer Martin Hannett's production style, with the end results being frequently described as "cavernous". The music of Joy Division is a good go-to example for Hannett's techniques, featuring sparse, hollow-sounding instrumentals and rapidly-oscillating vocal reverb (the end result of setting a digital delay circuit to the lowest possible time), making for a distinctly haunting sound. Hannett's echo-heavy production ended up becoming so distinct and well-known that it was a major contributor to the aesthetic of Post-Punk as a whole, to the point where many bands in the movement can be described as having taken at least some degree of influence from Joy Division.
  • Cream's "Mother's Lament", combined with Gratuitous Panning.
  • Stan Freberg's version of "Heartbreak Hotel" (which credits "Echo by Mammoth Cave") parodies excessive echo.
  • The album version of "Miami 2015 (Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway)" by Billy Joel has a very fake and shallow-sounding reverb effect applied to the whole thing.
  • One of the main complaints against the US releases of The Beatles albums between 1962 and 1966 was that Capitol added excessive reverb and echo to the original tracks, which they did by running them through their famed echo chambers. Their Duophonic process for converting mono tracks into pseudo-stereo also involved running them through the echo chambers as one of the steps; many Beatles tracks that Capitol only had in mono had reverb added in for the mono releases, then had reverb added on top of that for the Duophonic version. The end result is deemed by many fans to be unlistenable.
  • A truly bizarre example with an element of subversion: Throbbing Gristle's "Convincing People" and "Spirits Flying" both use extremely long echo effects on Genesis P-Orridge's voice, set to the exact same volume as the main vocal line.
  • Jethro Tull is really good at this, particularly in such songs as "Pibroch(Cap In Hand)," "No Lullaby" and "Dark Ages."
  • Sonic Youth's "Diamond Sea."
  • Many, many black metal releases employ gratuitous reverb, often mostly natural, starting with the UK band Venom.
  • Phil Collins, or, more specifically, Phil Collins' snare drum, is known for embodying this trope. He popularized what's known as "gated reverb", after all.
    • "Gated reverb" being a combination of reverb and a noise gate (muting sounds that are under a certain volume). Essentially a unnatural, choked sound.
  • My Morning Jacket is known for drenching Jim James' vocals in reverb. They once lampshaded this in a video promoting the album Z where his speaking voice was given a lot of reverb too.
  • The guitar intro to "Sorrow" by Pink Floyd sounds like it was recorded in an empty stadium. It was.
  • Lichens perform music that is, for the most part, entirely made up of vocals and guitar run through multiple delay units.
  • Radiohead's album OK Computer qualifies.
  • Echoes are part of the secret behind Phil Spector's famed "Wall of Sound" Signature Style of production. To elaborate, the Wall of Sound worked by having six or seven guitarists play the lead guitar part in unison, four or five bassists play the bass line in unison, a chamber ensemble of singers sing the backup, and so on—essentially creating rock orchestras—and recording the whole thing in an echo chamber. The result was a HUGE, REVERBERATING sound that fast became Spector's trademark. A great example of the Wall of Sound in action is "River Deep, Mountain High" by Tina Turner, largely considered to be his, and Turner's, crowning achievement.
  • British synth-heavy duo Hurts have a lot of this.
  • Hair Metal, especially the drum sound, was all about this.
  • On the remastered and reissued version of Electric Light Orchestra's A New World Record is an outtake that had remained unfinished for years called "Surrender". The finished version was this trope.
  • Many songs on Led Zeppelin's fourth album have this, especially the (quite frequently sampled) booming drums in "When the Levee Breaks," which was achieved by going into a stairwell at the house where they were recording, setting John Bonham's drums up at the bottom, and putting the microphones on the landing two floors above him (and also using a Binson Echorec delay unit).
  • The Moody Blues demonstrates this trope beautifully in the vocals of the song "The Sunset/Twilight Time" from Days of Future Passed. It appears throughout the whole song, though the best part starts at 3:45.
  • The production on Arctic Monkeys' AM is rather saturated, with Psychedelic Rock influences.
  • Essentially the entire genre of Surf Rock — playing your guitar through a spring reverb unit (preferably the Fender Reverb Unit) is a must to get that "wet" sound.
  • The original version of the album Night of the Stormrider by Iced Earth had a huge amount of reverb, even on the vocals. Much of this was removed in the remaster.
  • Chiodos' third album Illuminaudio has this in spades, particularly on the intro, "Caves", "Love is a Cat from Hell", and "Stratovolcano Mouth".
  • For their 2006 album Hosannas From The Basements Of Hell, Killing Joke chose to record in a basement studio in Prague, using '70s-era equipment. It shows.
  • Most of Everything Else's first album.
  • "What Do You Want" by Jerrod Niemann has a heavily-echoing kick drum throughout.
  • Florence + the Machine's "Never Let Me Go" and "Leave My Body."
  • Some Johnny Cash songs do this, including "One Piece at a Time."
  • Bruce Springsteen, a fan of Phil Spector's "Wall of Sound," has been known to deliberately use heavy echo and reverb on many tracks since Born to Run, especially in The '70s.
  • Oneohtrix Point Never's album Chuck Person's Eccojam's Vol. 1 as Chuck Person combined this with Gratuitous Panning; almost every track was a slowed-down, looped sample with echo going back and forth from the left ear to the right ear. This album, as well as the album Holograms by 骨架的,note  which did the same (though without the panning), heavily influenced the Vaporwave genre, as many tracks will either use echo, reverb, or both.
  • David Bowie's lead vocals on the track "Heroes" were recorded in a large hall, meant to record full orchestras; co-producer/engineer Tony Visconti set up three different microphones at various distances away from Bowie, gated to open up when he sang louder as the song progressed, picking up more and more of the room's natural reverb.
  • This is a common production technique in the genre of Black Metal. Mayhem, Emperor, and several other Norwegian bands recorded in the Grieg Memorial Hall to take full advantage of the spacious acoustics the place offered. Many other bands, particularly practitioners on the more atmospheric end of the genre such as Summoning and Drudkh, have followed their lead in using reverb heavily.
  • Heavy reverb and vocal layering form Enya's signature cathedral-choir sound.
  • The first record to feature artificial reverberation was The Harmonicats' 1947 breakthrough hit "Peg o' My Heart". Recording engineer Bill Putnam achieved the reverb by running the sound through a speaker and microphone set up in a bathroom — a guard stood outside during recording so nobody could come in and ruin a take by flushing the toilet.
  • Waylon Jennings' "Rough and Rowdy Days" features an echo effect on the end of each line ("Rough and rowdy days/and rowdy days/and rowdy days/and rowdy days...").


  • As mentioned in the page quote, Eddie and the Cruisers II.
  • Arch Hall Jr's singing in films like Eegah!, Nasty Rabbit and Wild Guitar are positively drenched in reverb.
  • Toys: Gwen finds Alsatia Zevo standing in the corner of the ladies' bathroom singing "In The Still Of The Night" to herself. Alsatia claims that the acoustics of that specific corner can give your voice a really good echoing reverb and convinces Gwen to join in and see for herself.

Real Life

  • Karaoke providers frequently turn the echo knob all the way up to cover for most participants not knowing how to properly sing into a microphone.
  • A rare non-musical example in Lou Gehrig's retirement speech, also known as the "Luckiest Man" speech.
  • "3D audio" effects attempt to simulate surround sound on headphones by using lots of subtle delays to create a more natural soundscape to compensate for the lack of reverberation off of the walls and objects you'd get with conventional stereo speakers.