Ask the Dude: Is there a pedal sounding like the Binson Echorec?

Ask the DudeRecently, I found the following request in my mailbox:

I think, I actually would need a Binson Echorec, but they are in fact beyond price. I love the flutter echo mash, that the Echorec is able to create.
In the meantime, I think, that an analog delay is able to produce every sound, I long for. Digital delays with analog emulation do not sound that nice to me. But at the same time, I don’t want to get into dept.
Could you tell me, if the Ibanez Echo Shifter might be a suitable pedal for me? Especially in contrast to the Ibanez analog delay, AD9, mini or even the EHX Memory Toy?
I have already tried to many sappy pedals. Right now, I do (still!) use the Hardwire DL8. But in my opinion, it is too cold and inorganic.”

DelayDude: This is a really interesting question. In my opinion, too, there is the right sound for every kind of feeling and each song. And, the sound of the Binson Echorec indeed is outstanding. It provides a percussive attack and the multi head option enables to create beautiful rhymical guitar sounds.
Besides, the modulation of an aged device creates a certain kind of three dimensionality.
It actually is pretty hard to emulate this beauty via an effect pedal.

The Binson Echorec is a “magnetic drum” delay, which produces a clear signal that reminds of the sound of a tape delay. I would classify the Echorec between digital delays (because of its percussive attack) and analog delays (for the natural modulation and the organic repeats).

Digital emulations

The Catalinbread Echorec, the Dawner Prince Boonar and the Gurus Echosex are able to emulate the sound of the legendary Echorec in a quite brilliant way.
But also, more current pedals like the Strymon Volante and the Crazy Tube Circuit Echotopia belong to this category. They excel through their virtual tone heads and as well as with their sophisticated modulation.
Here you will find a YouTube demo videos of both pedals.

But I agree with your statement that digital effects mostly dispense with a certain character.
Furthermore, a “magnetic drum” delay always adds some kind of “dirt” or saturation to the signal.
Regarding this aspect, an additional preamp might make sense.

Recently, I built an analog preamp of the Binson Echorec. Because of the refined sound, it works perfect with a delay pedal. If you are also interested in such a pedal, don’t hesitate to contact me.

If you wait patiently for a while, you can also get the T-Rex Echorec which ought to be available soon. At the latest NAMM Show they launched a prototype of an exact clone of the Binson Echorec. But until now, T-Rex has not specified a date of market launch.

Analog pedals

Regarding analog pedals, it is a bit more complicated. For none of them provides a multi head option. Only the Pigtronix Echolution, which is an analog/digital hybrid pedal may provide what you are looking for.
Besides, the repeats of an analog delay become more and more dull, for the heights are cut with every repeat.
Whereas a “magnetic drum” delay cuts the low end and therefore, its sound becomes a bit thinner.
But this kind of sound fits perfect in the acoustic pattern and the following notes will not be overlaid.

If the multi head option is not as important for you, and you are rather looking for the percussive attack and the modulation, I would recommend the EHX Deluxe Memory Man (Big Box version).
It provides a clear sound, a percussive character and a nice modulation. The sound of the Deluxe Memory Boy is a bit darker, but it provides a low cut option and thereby gets a mite closer to the sound of the Echorec.

The Ibanez AD9 as well as the ADmini do not offer modulation, but generally, they are both really nice sounding pedals. Their sound is a bite darker, but they fit perfect in the mix.
The AD9 only offers a maximum delay time of 300ms, but with a mod this pedal can create a beautiful soundscape of self-oscillation.
Regarding the Ibanez Echo Shifter, I personally think that the sound somehow lacks a bit of character and the setting of the tapped tempo gets lost while you turn the pedal off.