How to Get Rid of an Echo in Audio
By Simon Foden
Updated September 22, 2017
There are two types of echo in an audio recording. Natural echoes and approximated echoes. The former occurs as a consequence of the acoustics in which the audio was captured. The latter is a deliberate audio effect added to create the illusion of space and depth. Some echoes are desirable and add character to a sound, other echoes are not desirable and can make an audio recording sound muddy. Fortunately, you can remove an echo from your audio using the tools in your audio software program.
Removing Natural Echo
Open the program that you used to record the audio, such as Logic or Pro Tools. If you recorded the audio without a computer and now wish to edit the audio with a computer, open your preferred audio production program and click “File.” Click “Import” and select the audio from which you wish to remove the echo. Since the echo is part of the audio as it was captured on the recording, you need to manipulate the sonic characteristics of the recording.
Open the “Noise Gate” application. Its location in the menu varies according to the program, but noise gates are typically located under “Effects” or “Plug Ins” in the “Gating and Limiting” or “Dynamics” sub-menu. A noise gate is a signal limiter. It mutes any signal under a pre-selected threshold.
Click the “S” icon on the audio track that has the unwanted echo. This solos the audio so everything else is muted.
Hit “Play” and adjust the threshold parameter on the noise gate interface. This interface governs how strong the audio signal is before the gate allows it to pass. Since the echo will be a lower level than the original sound, set the threshold so that it sits between the level of the sound and the echo. This way the original sound will have a sufficiently strong signal to breach the gate threshold, while the echo is too weak and will be muted.
Removing Echo Effects
Open the program on which you recorded the audio.
Click on the track with the unwanted echo. By clicking on the track, you bring up all associated effects and parameters. These typically appear in a side-bar on the left.
Examine the display to determine which virtual effect is creating the echo. It is likely to be one of “Reverb,” “Delay” or “Tape Echo.” Reverb is a more subtle effect, similar to an echo but distinct from it in that only the ambiance is audible, rather than a recreation of the original sound. Delay and tape echo effects are more obvious.
Open each effect interface by clicking on the effect icon in the sidebar. Turn the effect off by clicking the “Bypass” button.
Play the audio back. If the echo is still there, bypass the next effect. Once you bypass the offending echo source, click “Bypass” once again on each of the effects that you tried. This brings them back into operation and returns the audio to its previous form, minus the echo.
Record audio in an acoustically dead environment. It's easier to add an echo effect than to remove a natural echo.
Simon Foden has been a freelance writer and editor since 1999. He began his writing career after graduating with a Bachelors of Arts degree in music from Salford University. He has contributed to and written for various magazines including "K9 Magazine" and "Pet Friendly Magazine." He has also written for Dogmagazine.net.