After working eight years on its development, the retro-obsessed boffins have recreated the Binson Echorec. That’s the rare mid-60s echo box beloved by Pink Floyd and The Shadows, in all its magnetic disk delay glory.
And yeah, blah blah, the history of this as a production tool and – HOLD ON THE DAMN THING SPINS! Let’s watch it freakin’ spin!
The Echorec was the invention of Milano-based Binson. You’ve no doubt heard these sounds in Pink Floyd, at least (that landed their Echorec in a V&A exhibition). The unique twist was that these used a magnetic drum recorder in place of the tape loop. One example:
Musical references or no, the Echorec is itself a great moment in engineering history, on par with the creation of the Roland Space Echo. And it represents a landmark for Italian instrument creation. (The company was founded by Bonfiglio Bini, with the engineering work on Echorec done by Emilio Bellintani, Donato Polignano, and Gianfranco Avona. It’s worth visiting separately. And actually, given Ikutaro Kakehashi’s interest in Italian design, it may have even influenced the Space Echo.)
If you want too much information on the original, check out these excellent pages, including a tour of the Milano factory:
And just so many pages on the Echorec, including how to repair an original if you come across one:
If you were to pick a single piece of vintage gear to try to clone, the Echorec would be … really one of the worst possible ideas. T-Rex didn’t just create something that looks like an Echorec and then slap some DSP inside. They went as far as to recreate the magnetic recording heads and controls. There are four switchable playback heads. There’s even that Magic Eye indicator on the front. It’s totally daft.
At US$2100 list, this is basically something for folks to show off in pricey analog studios. (I was just in one in Berlin that I suspect will jump at this.) But hey, if that bankrolls some fantastic engineering projects, I’m all for it. And it’s not that it isn’t useful – you get balanced I/O and this thing is designer to actually be used.
And sure enough, weird still rules the music industry – various folks reported this was the talk of NAMM. Maybe cheap clones won’t take over after all.
Alternatively, kinetic and electro-magnetic are the future! Erm, past! Whatever!
For us mere mortals, you can still get reasonably crazy with the company’s tape echo and other devices:
They’ve done a nice job of offering both studio effects and pedals.