How to Create Deluxe SlapBack Echo Using Channel Tools in SONAR X1

I love to use mono slapback echo to support lead vocals or guitar solos. This classic effect has been used for decades and continues to be an important music production technique. Slapback has its roots in reel to reel tape and is characterized by the vocal or guitar part mixed with a single, audible echo.
While, you might associate this effect with late 50’s rockabilly, slapback echo is probably more common than reverb on modern pop and rock mixes. I often use a slapback delay along with other beat synced stereo delays as an important part of a lead vocal sound.

One of the quickest and easiest ways to set up a master slap-back delay effect in SONAR X1 is to use the Channel Tools effect. Channel Tools is the swiss army knife of effects offering a range of stereo imaging tools that are more handy than glamorous. For this application it’s the simple left and right delay controls that get the job done with minimal complexity.

Here is the setup:

1. Create a bus channel and insert the Channel Tools effect. Label the bus “Slapback”

Channel Tools

2. In Channel Tools, click LINK to link the Delay L and Delay R times, then set the times to 178ms. This is my starting point for slapback delays, but you can adjust up and down between about 120 and 200ms to match the tune.

Channel Tools

3. Next, adjust the L and R sliders to the middle to make sure the output is mono.

Channel Tools

Here is the full setup for Channel Tools:

Channel Tools

4. On your lead vocal and guitar solo tracks, setup a send to the Slapback bus. Sends like this are typically set to post fader as shown. Turn up the send level and mix to taste!

Channel Tools

To get a more authentic vintage slapback effect, I roll off the lows and highs using the ProChannel EQ. The HP and LP controls are perfect for this. I select the E-Type filters but really any of the four equalizer types will get the job done.

Channel Tools

To add more color to the slapback echo, apply some Pro Channel Saturation:

Channel Tools

Channel Tools along with one or two SONAR X1 ProChannel modules gives you everything to create one de-luxe master slapback effect!  Have fun.

Buy SONAR X1 Producer to get Channel Tools and other great effects.

Or check out my new video Mixing with SONAR X1 for more great tips.

Published by

Bill Edstrom [Groove 3]

Bill Edstrom is the author of "Mixing with SONAR X1" available now in the Cakewalk Store. He is an independent audio engineer and author of numerous video training titles published by Groove 3.