Echo: Do I Really Need One?

Never a day goes by that a customer doesn't walk into our shop and ask for a Connex board to be installed in his radio. Then he will say that it must be a real Connex board, not an imitation. The truth is that all CB shops sell the real Connex board. Whatever one they stock is the real Connex board. The fact is, the real Connex board doesn't exist in the aftermarket CB business. Two boards dominate the market. One comes from RF Limited and one from Workman Electronic Products. Both are very well made and do a great job. Most installers can install one in an average CB radio in about 15 minutes.

Why does the customer want an echo? Because all the other radios out there seem to have one. All his friends tell him he needs one. Someone told him it would give him more power out of the radio. Some customers just want to be aggravating. They play with the echo effects and generally show off the fact that some men have more money than brains. Most drivers want echo just to sound good and for the clarity that it gives to their transmitted audio.

If you are going to spend your money on an echo board or an echo microphone, listen to what some experts say. These people own their own CB shops and submitted these words of wisdom.

Handy Andy: Echo Mics and Echo Boards, for me... the boards work better for there is more room and more discrete parts, which can be modified for better tonal quality to the echo. The hand-held may be the quickest way to put echo on the air, but in many cases it turns out to be a toy for annoyance and being a pearls. (If you know how pearls are formed, we don't need to go there. If you don't, look it up in an encyclopedia). Another factor is the tonal filtering in today's radios. They are considerably narrower than they were in earlier models. If you have a tinny response curve and use echo, everything sounds like you've got tissue paper in front of the mic and no one will want to talk to you.

Toban: When you set the delay slightly and open up the echo, you get an effect called reverb. Reverb to the voice over a microphone on the airwaves makes it stand out, sound more dynamic if you will, giving your modulation a full (mid-low-high) range. It makes it easier to pick out your words in a crowded channel, eliminating the "Come back, what did you say?" Many echo type mics and echo boards claim to be echo/reverb, but seldom are. The only two boards I've come across that were capable of true reverb were the Connex style (with the whip) and the Internal Bandit Echo Board. I prefer the Bandit Echo Board since you set the controls and seal it up inside the radio, no bumping knobs. It's more compact and offers a slightly different tone quality from the Connex style.

Most drivers have enough to worry about with driving and keeping up their logbook without trying to adjust their echo to please every listener. In short, my opinion is that an echo board is a necessity. When properly tuned, you will sound clearer and more sharply defined.

As popular as echo is, the FCC may still consider it a voice disguise. That would make a radio containing echo an illegal transmitter. That said; if you want an echo, choose wisely. Contact a dealer you trust and be an informed consumer. Know what you want and get what you want, not what the dealer has to sell.

A final comment from Dave's radio: "Most people don't want to hear me the first time, let alone the second time...second time...second time...second time..."

Enjoy your equipment and stay safe.

Written by: Stan Wells