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The Making of The Echo

posted by Mattias Häggström Gerdt 2012-05-03 at 12:51

In this second behind the scenes look we’ll talk about how The Echo was designed and created, from early concept to your favorite delay unit! Like Pulveriser, The Echo was born in Mats Karlöf’s twisted, geeky imagination.

- DDL-1 had some functionality left to wish for and you had to build a lot of different Combinators to get really flexible delays, especially for stereo. It felt more practical and useful to have a dedicated stereo delay that was a bit more advanced and it’s something our users have asked for too.

The first step—as with Pulveriser—was to list the requirements and features on the “design poster”. Compared to Pulveriser, The Echo actually looked very different at this stage compared to how it ended up! The feature list and mockup shows almost another device than The Echo you know and love:


• Based on the Scream 4 UI

- 1 Algorithm selector

- 2-3 Specific parameters for each delay type 
- Separate components out side the algorithm that is common for all algorithms

• Limiter in the feedback loop

• External feedback loop

• Few, but great Patches per algorithm

- The first version was pretty much just like Scream4 but for delay, Mats tells us. Then as the design progressed more and more feature were both added and “lifted out” and made as their own sections. 

- There were also many ideas that were considered. Should we have a resonator in the feedback loop? How exactly should the ducking feature look? The original ducking feature was much more advanced to begin with but in the end it didn’t add much and took up too much space.

- At one time there was even a “morph” section where you could morph between two different delay settings. The problem with this was automation conflict. Because you could automate the morph AND the parameters that the morph affected, it wasn’t very predictable. Whichever control gave the last instruction to a parameter “wins” in this system, something that made it very unwieldy.

Even on this early design poster however, Mats did detailed some of the unique features that he wanted The Echo to have. Many of these ended up in The Echo anyway but in a different form than in the original designs. This is how Mats described some of them:

Breakout jacks

This lets the user set up his own effect chain in the feedback loop. This keeps things interesting for the more advanced user as it adds to the geek factor of this device.


Pitch neutral

Want to change the delay time without having the resulting pitch shift? No problem, use this algorithm.


Stereo delay

The stereo delay has controls that offsets delay time and feedback for the right channel from the left channel.


Read Only

This enables the delay memory to be read without writing to the memory. There is a CV input on the back that can enable this function.

- Breakout jacks were there from day one, it’s a great feature and makes The Echo much more flexible.  We also added a limiter in the feedback loop so it can’t actually break your speakers when you’re messing around with it.

- With the stereo delay, the offset was always the thought too. It makes it possible to change the delay time for both left and right with just one rotary. If there were separate delay times for left and right that would make it less usable, especially considering the cool effects you can do with the “Keep Pitch” feature.

A device can really change its appearance and features during development and The Echo is a really good example of this. In the end as more and more features got “lifted” from the original Echo design and put as their own section it became clear that this made the device easier to work and more flexible.

- The big reason it moved away more and more from the original Scream-like design is that we realized a problem. What if you want a stereo delay that’s also pitch neutral? Or a tape delay with tube distortion? We sacrificed flexibility by letting one algorithm be active at a time. When we lifted out the various “characteristics” as their own sections (Color, Modulation, Ducking etc.) it became a much better device with more freedom.

Some changes to The Echo also came from people other than Mats.

- We had a tester here who was a DJ and used quite a few effects live, Mats remembers. I asked him what his coolest live effect was and what he described is what we made the Roll feature for.

- Then the Diffusion section is something Pelle came up with actually, it’s similar to the diffusion in RV-7000, which we’ve always liked. He also came up with the envelope!

The feature set wasn’t the only thing that changed with The Echo either. The Echo was actually a purple device for a very long time but Mats disliked the color so much when he saw it that it had to be changed.

- I said something along the lines of “It can’t be purple, no way. Any color but purple! It can even be orange!” and before I knew it, it was released and it was indeed orange. 

That’s it for this behind the scenes look! Hopefully you enjoyed reading some of the thoughts behind The Echo. We still have Alligator to cover so watch this space for the next behind the scenes look!

.plan comments

Comments (4)

Comment posted by: JiggeryPokery - 2012-05-03 13:25

That wasn't purple! That's definitely pink!

My flatmate would have loved it. If she any interest in this at all. Which she doesn't. ;)

Comment posted by: EnochLight - 2012-05-03 13:38

Nah, that's purple. That said - orange DEFINITELY looks better!

Comment posted by: JiggeryPokery - 2012-05-03 14:14

Yeah, orange is definitely nicer!

But in terms of RGB, purple has way less red in the mix, say 100 0 255, than in that image above, which is closer to magenta-pink, roughly 200 0 255. ;)

I don't like pink much, as you can tell!!


Comment posted by: iamspartacus - 2012-05-03 16:35

Wow. That was a cool read. I'm thankful the Echo didn't end up like the Scream. The Echo is an incredible tool. Flexible, but easy to get great results out of. A well thought-out design!

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