Difference between echo, delay and reverb

What is The Difference Between Echo, Delay and Reverb?

There is a lot of musical equipment which is not only used for making high-quality music but also assists in making the music production process much easier.

Musical instruments and devices play an indispensable role in expressing thoughts, emotions, and feelings.

But there will be a pain in the neck if you’re the beginner in the music world and have no clue of what to do first.

What types of instruments should you go for? How to choose and use the type of instruments that suit you best? How to distinguish and apply different musical devices in your music?

The list of questions seems to be endless and you’re literally getting lost in a maze of musical equipment. But first thing first! Let’s walk through the basic with the difference between echo, delay and reverb.

Difference between echo, delay and reverb

Difference between echo, delay and reverb

Have you ever seen yourself getting trouble in choosing the musical support devices, especially the types of music effect pedal? If so, let me walk with you through some basics.

Echo, delay and reverb are three distinctive styles of pedals which have a huge effect on your tone.

But the misunderstandings among these three pedal types become common since they can be used to mimic the other ones’ effect in music.

But if used correctly, these three types of pedals amaze users with different capabilities and functions. Let’s go and discover together!


What is a delay?

Delay is a repeat of signal or basically is also known as an echo. A delay can be a single sound or a number of sounds depending on how you set your delay up.

Some people don’t prefer using the term “echo” in the replacement of the term “delay”. Some people don’t prefer using the term “echo” in replacement of the term “delay”.

But I’m more into using the former term because it’s much easier to remember, especially for the beginners.

Besides, when you start explaining what a delay is to non-musicians, they will probably think you’ve gone mad. Why don’t you want to play a note and have it repeated back at you?

The reason is that the sound a delay creates is amazing. The delay is used in numerous ways but the main purposes are to thicken and add more color to the sound.

I’m sure most of you still remember the classic game “copycat” when somebody mimics the sound of a cat just to irritate you. Whatever you say is repeated in exact words back to you. That’s basically how a delay works.

Most of the delay pedals provide some mandatory settings, time and feedback. The time allows you to know how long you’ve played the note or chord. Feedback lets the pedal know how many times you want it to keep playing.


In addition, delay is one or more separate sound images. This is where reverb and delay have a connection. Stand in a big room and speak out “hello”. The first sound we hear reflected from the walls is called an “echo”.

That echo then turns into reverb when the sound is continuously reflected off other surfaces. Let’s think about delay as the one and only exact copy of the sound later on.

So this is the basic lesson about delay. There are more about delay pedal in terms of types and effects.

If you want to find out more, it’s advisable to visit Musical Study of Kevin Deal. This website has been of great help to me when I first stepped into the world of music producers.

What is a delay used for?

A delay is an exact copy of the original signal. It offers a clear and accurate copy of the original content. Although a delay can change a little bit in tone, its sound is clear enough to hear and sounds like the original.

The setup and use of a delay mostly depends on timing on the repeats since it relates to the original signal.

Thus, we’re able to have these delayed signals matched our song’s tempo or set it up for response in milliseconds. A delay is an amazing effect, helping to create the excitement in a track.

A delay is the best for guitars and vocals but there are no fixed rules. You can make use of a delay on whatever signals you want.

Besides, delay is also used in speaker placement. When the place is so big that it requires speakers in many locations from front to back, delay is prefered on the back speaker locations.

By this way, the sound from speakers with different depth levels is able to reach the hearer’s ears at the same time.


What is a reverb?

A reverb, in short for “reverberation”, basically mimics the effects of your guitar played out into a physical space. It helps add more space, warmth, and texture to the track.

In general, a reverb happens when a sound is made in a closed space, creating a series of echoes. Afterward, the sounds start to fade as they’re absorbed by the walls as well as the air in the room.

Another simple example is you yell into a cave and hearing your voice repeat back to you. Then it slowly dies as the time passes.

Modern reverb

Modern reverb pedals offer a wide variety of styles, along with the ability to harmonize with other effects.

A popular style of modern reverb is “mod” reverb, where the output signal is mixed with a modulator, creating a shimmering effect.

If you want to find out more about modern reverbs, I suggest visiting the blog Musical Study of Kevin Deal. This is one of my favorite blogs because they share and update a lot of useful tips and knowledge relating to music field. Basically, it’s like an online musical school for everyone.

What is a reverb used for?


With a reverb, the character of the sound is affected by the room or more specifically by the materials in the room. For instance, a room with brick walls will generate different sounds from one with wooden walls.

A reverb is a “best friend” of vocals, guitars, snare or any sound you want to fill in. Remember there is also no rule here. You can become as creative as you want. I myself had used a slight reverb on every sound when started to feel familiar with it.

You and only you know the right amount of reverbs, so trust your ears and be creative. Don’t hesitate to try out new styles because that’s how I’ve learnt the music tricks and lessons quickly.


What is an echo?

An echo is a combination of the two effects – a delay and a reverb. It has the potential of expanding the space of a reverb and the repeating function of a delay.

With an echo pedal, you are likely to receive a shorter yet thicker and more reverberated sound. This is because the echo pedal is modeled based on old studios, where an echo is achieved by repeating a part using tape.


So we’ve gone through the difference between echo, delay and reverb. All of these pedal styles are a valuable “secret weapon” of any music player.

Our advice to the beginners is trying out different types and combining them to see what works best for you.


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