Difference Between Reverberation and Echo

Reverberation vs Echo | Echo vs Reverb

Reverberation and echo are two phenomena discussed in acoustics and waves. Echo is the reflection of a sound or some other wave off a surface. Reverberation is the sound or the pattern created by the superposition of such echoes. These concepts are very important in fields such as acoustics, RADAR, SONAR, Ultrasound scans, architectural designs and various other fields. In this article, we are going to discuss what reverberation and echo are, their applications, the definitions of reverberation and echo, the similarities and differences between reverberation and echo.


Echo is a phenomena observed in mechanical waves. The term echo is mostly used in the context of sound waves, but it can be applied to other types of waves such as radio waves, ultrasound waves, shock waves and other mechanical waves.

When a sound is produced inside a large hall or a similar structure, the sound bounces back from the walls of the structure. The sound reflected back from the walls is known as the echo of the sound. The amplitude of the echo is always lower than the amplitude of the original sound. The echo can create a secondary echo by bouncing off another wall.

An echo is usually clear and can be clearly distinguished. If the echo is formed by a set of words spoken, these words are clearly understandable from the echoed signal as well as the original signal. If the delay of the echo is smaller than 1/10th of a second, the echo cannot be distinguished by the human ear. The echo can be used to determine the distance of a reflecting object such as a large building or a mountain, if the ambient temperature is known. When the reflecting object is far away, the echo cannot be clearly heard due to the damping of the sound wave.


Reverberation is a phenomenon which is fairly similar to echo. These two concepts are commonly misinterpreted as the same phenomenon. The phenomenon of reverberation is caused by overlapping of multiple echoes.

The product of reverberation is known as a reverb. A reverb is not a clear replica of the original sound sample. If the original sample consists of words, those words will not be distinguishable in a reverberation. Reverberation cannot be utilized for distance measurement applications.

Reverberation is usually experienced in closed spaces with multiple reflecting objects. The reverberation time is the most important property that is discussed with reverberation. RT60 is the time that is taken to reduce the original sound intensity level to 60dB. RT60 is a very important property when designing buildings such as theaters and large halls.


What is the difference between Reverberation and Echo?

• Echo is a single reflection of a sound wave whereas reverberation is the superposition of multiple echoes.

• An echo is easily distinguishable and is almost as same as the original sound. The reverberation is not distinguishable and fades out in an exponential manner.