Concerning the categorization of delay pedals, guitarists mostly refer to analog delays, tape delays and digital delay pedals. But one true classic is often overlooked because it is pretty rare and only available in used condition: the Binson Echorec.
In the 1950s the inventors of Binson searched for a was to create a delay effect without the need for an error-prone tape. They wrapped a magnetic metal tape around a steel/ aluminum disc (or rather a kind of flat can). The motor-driven disc offered a frequency range which was much wider than the frequency spectrum of a tape echo. Furthermore, it works pretty stable and with less besides noise. Because of these advantages, this technique was ideal for recording.
The disc echos provided several playback heads and by activating various of them, you could create interesting rhythms. The circuit was tube based and the device was quite robust – these aspects made the Binson Echorec even at those days pretty expensive.
The sound is unique and one of the most famous users was probably David Gilmour.
The legendary sound in a current enclosure
Currently, several manufacturers try to revive the legendary sound of the Binson Echorec. It convinces because of its atmospheric delay sound which is beautiful blurred and appears almost like a reverb.
Unfortunately, the Binson Echorec only offered a fixed maximum delay time of 300 ms ( head 4). The other three heads provided factors of this time: 1. head 75ms, 2. head 150ms and 3. head 225 ms.
One of the most famous delay pedals which emulates the combination of several heads is the Catalinbread Echorec. In accustomed quality and a compact enclosure, this digital pedal provides an astonishing good emulation.
Another emulation which actually uses a real tube while the delays are also created digitally, is the Gurus Echosex2. Although its sound is really good, this pedal lacks the multi-head-option of the Original.
The Dawner Prince Boonar offers the multi-head-option and a drum age option which emulates the aging of the device.
Some time ago, T-Rex announced that they want to put a faithful replication of the Echorec on the market. This means, a real disc echo and no digital emulation. This device could be very interesting and a sonic complement to the delay pedals that are currently available.
This year, Strymon brings out its Volante. This pedal also includes a drum echo, or rather a disc echo mode. Because of the various combinable virtual heads, the accustomed Strymon quality and the numerous setting options, this pedal is supposed to become a modern classic. Besides, you can also adjust tape and studio echos and it is the first Echorec emulation with tap tempo!