Effects are a huge part of any musician’s audio production process. These days, musicians understand so much of the audio production process enough to know what they want and how they want it specifically.
This is even more common with singers because they understand music and singing a lot better.
An effect that is commonly used in audio production is echo.
This post will get into whether singers actually use it or have engineers use it on their vocals. I’ll specifically discuss professional singers who you probably listen to on various streaming services today..
With that said, let’s get right into it.
Do professional singers use echo?
Professional Singers usually use reverb and echo because they’re nuanced and can be engineered to simulate real echo and reverberation effects. When recording, reverb or echo is usually applied to vocals after they’re recorded into the DAW. While, in live performances, reverb or echo is usually applied via a mixer with a reverb unit, so that the original signal is heard with some reverberation or echo when the singer sings into the mic.
Sound engineers tailor this reverb to fit the live performance that the singer is going for.
This is usually the case even with recorded vocals.
Reverb or echo is usually used only moderately because using too much of it can bury the vocals deep in the mix, which would in turn make them harder to hear.
Benefits of Using Echo and reverb
Let’s get into why most professional singers use echo and reverb.
Beefing up a signal
When you record a single vocal, it may sometimes feel a little light.
This is one of the reasons why people double their vocals to get them a lot more beefed up.
However, implementing echo or reverb on a single vocal can be an alternative to get the vocals beefed up.
This is important when mixing because it can help you get your vocal sounding a lot better.
These effects can also be useful in live performances where the singer is actually singing (not lip syncing) and only their actual live voice is heard by the audience.
Reverb or echo effects can make it much easier for the singer to have some reverberation support from the effects.
Which in turn would mean not having to stretch their voice too much to compensate for the live performance.
In audio mixing and recording it’s very common to make mistakes.
Not only singers make mistakes but even the engineers themselves sometimes do.
Some of these mistakes can only be noticed by people with a trained ear for audio.
Reverb and echo are great tools for masking mistakes because they both create space around vocals.
Even in live performances, it’s very common for singers to make mistakes. With reverb or echo fed into the signal chain, some of these mistakes can be masked.
Therefore, these two effects are nifty tools that can save a performance and give the singer more confidence.
Can turn dry to wet
Some audio signals especially after being run through different effects like compressors may sound dry.
One of the uses of echo and reverb is to add wetness to an audio signal.
Using the right parameters, bad sounding vocals or sounds can turn into something sonically pleasing.
However, both reverb and echo have to be used moderately because they tend to push sounds further into a mix. This can be a problem for both live performances and recording.
Therefore, it pays to use parameters like pre-delay to limit how much reverberation affects the signal so it doesn’t completely wash away the vocal or sound.
Reverb and echo have the ability to not only beef up a vocal but also liven it up.
This makes the vocal larger than life while sounding wide, which allows for a grand performance by the singer both in a recorded and/or live performance.
Good engineers that know how to use echo for this can create a great listening experience for the audience.
Which is why effects are only as good as the sound engineer responsible for calibrating them.
The dreamy effect
Echo and reverb have a unique effect that can create a somewhat dreamy experience.
This is important when the singer wants to curate a nostalgic performance.
Even in recorded audio this can be achieved and can actually be done to an elevated degree.
Echo is a good effect to use in both recorded and live audio. Many singers use reverb as a stand for echo because they almost do the exact same thing.