Imagine I'm in a situation I don't have any gear with me (a meeting with a client).
When I want to explain what a 'slap-back delay' sounds like, I could put on a typical Elvis song, but 'wood room' is trickier.
And how to show what the difference would be between a short and an long pre-delay?

Does anyone know of some sort of list with previews, short mp3s maybe, of what these things actually sound like on something neutral like a hand clap?

Or even better: some kind of online emulator, you can send a track to & that lets you tweak the most common controls.

Any other ideas?

  • For migration to SD please Tim
    – Rory Alsop
    Jan 27, 2014 at 16:12

6 Answers 6


I guess you're looking for a sound effect equivalent to a herbarium or a wine aroma dictionary.

However, the result of an effect only means something when applied to a sound source. So whereas everybody can see what a dandelion looks like or what elder flowers smell like, the ability to understand and separate the original sound from the sound with a particular effect applied might require training and experience with sound production.

I think hands-on demonstration on something the client already knows, i.e. the actual material you are working on together works much better. They might not be able to tell what the effect does, but they can pitch in with whether they like the result or not. I've worked on projects in the past where I would make several alternative mixes to gauge reactions and gather hints for further directions to go down.

I'm wondering why you would be discussing effects with a client up front. Maybe you have good reasons for doing so, but I'm thinking that referencing well-known songs as you mention yourself works pretty well. Again, without knowing your specific context, I would think discussing styles and artistic directions rather than particular effects would be a much better goal and mind set for both of you when laying out a potential project with a client.

  • Great points. The variations for effects are endless. Examples from client's material or referencing well-known songs seems like the best way to do it. What might be useful is a neutral hand clap (or other appropriate sound) with a "typical" or default setting applied for each common effect. So the client can understand "this is delay" or "this is reverb" or this is "flange". Something that could be used for basic client education.
    – bogeymin
    Jan 9, 2011 at 12:32
  • I would also agree that discussing specific effects with a client is not the best move. Barring special situations, you may find that as you get into the nitty-gritty of a mix the effect you demonstrated to the client doesn't work as well as you thought and you have to swap it out. You'd then need to explain all of that to the client. Oct 21, 2011 at 16:30

I own a POD from Line 6 with which I got the POD Farm plugin offered (but I think you can buy it as "standalone" plugin).
It's a VST plugin that you could plug to an audio editor that support it (even the last version of Audacity supports it).

Then you just record a riff with any instrument (but it's more guitar-oriented) in your DAW and voilà ! With your editor you can apply a whole range of effects, with a lot of tweaks available, on your riff.
Maybe it's too much just for effect demoing (as it includes amps, etc.) but something similar must exist.


Another good tool could be this one. This is the BOSS website that allows you to test some BOSS pedals on a predefined riff (rhythm & lead). The options are quite limited but there is a quite good set of pedals (once again, this is mostly targeted to guitars).


My best guess would be to create some examples with your software and to host these somewhere, if you can bring a laptop you could use software and be able to show more than an online emulator.

I don't think that there would be a site that would have specific examples of the effects you mentioned, and an online emulator (which would probably be too simple) would be very hard to find...

The sites that come close and might have examples are FreeSound Project and ccMixter.


I did a little searching and was surprised that I couldn't find a good collection of samples out there. I did come across a few reverb samples:


If an "online emulator" would suffice, why not use a collection of plugins? You could take a single sound (like the hand clap you mentioned) and put it through several different effects for your client. You wouldn't get the sound of a real wood room, for example, but you could use an impulse from a wood room in a convolution reverb plugin and give your client the basic idea.

If you don't have your gear, you could always make yourself some preview recordings, especially if the client has already told you what sounds they're working with.


Easy one ;)


create whatever you want ;)

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