Echo and reverb are audible reflections of sound heard in the real world. They are also creatively used as sound effects in films and music.

When echo or reverb is added to audio, it creates a sense of space or distance.

But what are their differences?

The difference between echo and reverb is in the number and duration of the reflection of sound. Echo stays for a higher duration and has a shorter number of reflections, while reverb (reverberation) has a shorter duration with many fast reflections.

This article simplifies the difference between echo and reverb.

Difference Between Echo and Reverb

I can summarize the difference between echo and reverb in two points:

  • A reverb will always have more than one reflection, while an echo can have one or more depending on the loudness of the sound source.
  • Reverberation repeats at a short time interval. Comparatively, echo repeats at a longer time interval.
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What is an Echo?

Shouting and waiting for echo is a mountain
You can hear the echo when you shout or clap near a silent mountain slope (Image credit: ROMAN ODINTSOV)

An echo is a discrete repetition of the original sound that occurs after a brief delay. The delay is typically long enough to be noticeable, and the number of echoes can vary.

You can use echo to create a sense of space or to add emphasis to a sound as it comes back to the ear several times (each time with a diminishing force).

The sound you hear is an echo if you only hear the original sound repeatedly after a time interval of at least 10ms (milliseconds).

So for a sound to be called echo, there should be an audible delay between the reflections.

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For this to happen, the surface where the sound bounces off has to have a considerable distance from the sound source.

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What is Reverb?

Empty room with concrete walls
You can experience reverb when you make sounds in a place having closed walls, like in an empty room. (Image credit: Rene Asmussen)

Reverb, also known as reverberation, is the sound that reflects back from a surface.

Reverberation is the natural decay of sound waves in space.

It is created when sound waves bounce off of surfaces in a room or other space, creating a sense of space and depth.

Reverb is often used to create a sense of space or to simulate the acoustics of a particular space.

It is the effect of sound echoing in a room, hall, or a similar place, having walls closer to each other, where the sound bounces off easily.

In short, reverberation (reverb) is the sound of multiple echoes happening within a short time, causing a sense of spaciousness.

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Reverb vs. Echo vs. Delay

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