Soundtoys Echoboy by lanschuetz
So I have to admit I came late to the Echoboy party. I have plenty of verbs, echoes, delays, tape simulators that I've spent large dollar amounts on, and have managed to wrestle a few into submission such that they sound good. Most, at the start, sound like what they are: software emulations of real things.
Small digression: I still remember picking up the spring reverb unit sitting atop a guitar amp and dropping it just for the ""
effect from time to time. Weird device, but it sounded for all the world pretty darn good. It gave just enough shimmer to make guitars, and sometimes drums or electric pianos that extra spectral fill.
So after months of fiddling with, well, a fiddle, I still didn't like anything that I could throw at it to make it still sound natural but yet full. A little bird told me about having seen a thing called "echo boys" at another studio and I - sort of begrudgingly - got the demo. I think the gap between demo and purchase was under 10 minutes.
Most of the work i was doing at the time was acoustic, and with lots of space in the recordings a fake sounding echo just sounds, well, fake. That was not the case with the Echoboy.
In most verbs and delays I own, the sound readily heads towards the metallic. Even with convolution reverbs I still hear that metallic sheen. That's perfectly ok if I am, in fact, looking for a plate verb, but not otherwise. To my ears at least, with most verbs, the difference between plate and room is smallish, with mostly just more bottom end congestion.
The Echoboy unit, however, used by me primarily by starting with presets in the "classic" group, does not have that sheen, but rather a clean and distinct echo that clears cleanly and with a soft tail.
Even with 2 delays, the sound is pleasing. Adjusting to the song tempo is as easy as turning on the MIDI switch. Cranking saturation was helpful though distortion started later in the curve - which was what i needed in this situation.
Artists have responded with cheers and are virtually unaware of the sound of the delay until you turn it off - a fact that was almost never true with other verbs and delays, even those using convolution.
There are some adjustments under the covers, which are often helpful in fine tuning the response, though these windows overlay the main window rather than popping out. I've not been personally troubled by that, but can foresee a case where you want the adjustments and the main window to be available at the same time.
The number of pre-sets, and the ability to tune parameters is almost mind boggling. That gritty guitar sound is easily achieved as well as some unique (in my experience) vocal efx.
I think I'm unlikely to ever exceed the limits of just a few standard settings. But knowing the degree of change you can create on a track is always a good thing. And, frankly, the price is pretty reasonable.
So I still use some other ITB verbs, delays, tape sims, but this is my first choice at this point. It is as if the sound quality it produces were already there, and you just had to free it. Not many plugins make me feel that way.
The only other drawback you might run into, which happens with convolution verbs a lot, is that it is not exactly a lightweight process. So putting different efx on different tracks takes some planning (i.e. print the tracks with the efx and move on). But that's a small price to pay.
Count me in as an Echoboy Fanboy.