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Discover the magic of the Echo Machine, an interactive online experiment that lets you explore the amazing sound effects of the echo.

Echo units are essential to the sound of rock, pop, and dub reggae music. Musician Nina Richards worked with a group of volunteers to design this interactive online version of an echo unit, which doesn’t just allow you to see what the technology looks like, but to hear what it does too! Try the Echo Machine for yourself online.

Echo is part of our Sonic Futures project.


You might not know it, but it’s very rare to hear music—live or recorded—without echo effects. In the early days of recording, many studio spaces had a characteristic natural reverberation, which was often in great demand, But not all studios were lucky enough to have such a room and, from the 1950s, many companies produced artificial echo units that used springs, tape loops or magnetic discs to try and mimic the natural reverberation. These units soon came to be valued in their own right for the distinctive sound they bring to an electric guitar, or other instrument.

We have several examples in our collection, from the quirky Watkins Copicat that created the sound of The Shadows, to the iconic Binson Echorec, famously used by guitarists like Dave Gilmour (Pink Floyd), Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin) and The Edge (U2), and the digital Yamaha SPX50D which provides multiple effects, including the gated reverb beloved of 1980s music producers.