Which Binson Echorec?
WRITTEN BY: Tony Miln
UPLOADED: 26th Jun 2018
Looking to buy a Binson? At the time of writing many of the machines that feature in the image above, and in the demos below, are available on the site. You can see the Echorecs we have listed for sale here, but if you can’t find what you need then please get in touch; most of the valve T7E and PE 603T machines sell on a pre-order basis and rarely make it to the site.
Which Binson Echorec?
I’ve been a Binson head for approaching a quarter of a century now, and have owned and used many examples from all eras of production: from a stunningly over-engineered early T5E dating from the late fifties, to the less iconic (but still very useful) solid state echoes produced in the late seventies/early eighties. All have their place as inspiring recording, mixing and performance devices.
I can’t remember a time when we’ve ever had such a large selection of restored Binson Echorecs for sale on the site. A customer recently contacted me to say “I’ve wanted a Binson for years, but which Echorec model should I buy?”. Here’s a brief guide and a few personal thoughts.
Echorecs were primarily designed for guitars, vocals and keyboards, and were much more stable than contemporary tape echoes. They can sound stunning on a wide variety of sources, and it’s fair to say that our Binson customers span a very wide range of musical styles and genres. Below is a brief clip (and below that the full YouTube track in stereo) of Matt Morton making great use of his Soundgas Echorec 2…
In The Beginning…
These early machines are very often badly worn and require a good deal of work and parts to become truly useful again; in my early days I must’ve bought nearly half a dozen before giving them up as a bad idea. It’s a different story today: with access to replacement parts and talented Binson engineers, we’ve had several superb examples – the last of which went to the legendary Blackbird Studios in Nashville.
A good T5E is stunning for guitar – warm and thick with tone for days – but it’s also a strong contender for anyone looking for a smoother vintage echo sound, as the demo below demonstrates perfectly.
I love Baby Binsons. There, I’ve said it. I had two for years, with serial numbers that were exactly 100 apart. I recorded much of an album by a singer songwriter friend through my Baby Binson and it sounded amazing on everything.
Syd Barrett used and abused an Echorec Baby in psychedelic era Pink Floyd. Pete Townshend told me about wanting an Echorec ever since seeing Syd play at the UFO Club in 1967. According to Pete, Syd played one chord into two Echorecs and the band jammed for half an hour to the oscillating repeats…
But it’s not just guitars that sound epic with a Baby. Jimmy Page employed one on John Bonham’s drum kit when recording Led Zeppelin IV at Headley Grange. It wasn’t just the sound of the famous stairwell in When The Levee Breaks, the Baby’s repeats not only inspiring Bonzo to play that legendary beat, but also adding to the ambience and feel.
Big Baby. Proof that you really can’t beat old analogue gear for sheer levels of filth that never get harsh. Here I’m brutally overdriving the input of this Baby Binson while the MPC-1 undergoes final pre-shipping testing (it’s fine and shipping out to its new home in NYC). The Baby is just back from a service with our in house echo specialist, Dr Huw and is sounding very good indeed…
I can recommend a Baby Binson to anyone: cheaper and simpler than the bigger machines, with shorter repeats (down to a smaller diameter drum), but with masses of vibe and character. Whether you’re a guitar player, electronic musician or studio engineer, a fully-functioning Baby is always going to bring you great joy.
Updated versions of the Baby in a larger case and with the bigger wheel, also used in the Echorec 2, these machines can be a more economic route to the valve Binson sound. Hank Marvin used one in The Shadows for many years, as well as his long-serving Baby. They can sound truly immense on drums/beats and with added varispeed, they’re a monster proposition.
Echorec 2 T7E
The daddy. Stunning-sounding valve preamps, plus the fluttery reverb-like Swell function, all housed in that iconic case. If, like me, you were raised on a diet of Pink Floyd ‘Live At Pompeii’, ‘Meddle’ and ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’, then the sound and look of this machine will be very familiar. This is the model everyone wants, and the one seen in many top recording studios around the world. Also later produced as a solid state unit, which while still very good (and capable of some immense overdrive), is not as desirable as the valve version.
A good valve Echorec 2 is a thing of magnificence and wonder, as composer Matt Morton recently discovered: “The echo sounds absolutely stunning, and it’s extremely inspiring to work with – within a few days of receiving it, I had already used it on several cues.”
Dan and Mick of That Pedal Show used one of our Echorec 2s (currently for sale) for their epic Wet/Dry/Wet episode: ‘It just makes the guitar sound BIG’. here’s Mick testing/getting lost in the same Binson in our studio:
Echorec PE 603-T
An Echorec 2 in a larger, more road-ready metal case, with individual buttons to switch the initial echo and repeats for each head. The valve version is every bit as desirable as the Echorec 2, but more solid state units were made (by which time quality was starting to slip – they can require a lot of work to be right); some 603 variants look very similar to the 603 T, but with reduced functionality. However a good valve 603 is a monster.
Another stunner of ours that wowed That Pedal Show the first time they borrowed one of our machines for their Echorec pedal shoot out:
Sound City Echomaster
A solid state B1/2 – capable of some awesome distortion and great effects, especially useable with varispeed mod. Good introduction to the Echorec.
A later solid state machine that can be tricky unless well-serviced, but like the Echomaster above, a great introduction to the Binson sound.
Echorec EC-6; PE 603T-6; A 605 TR-6
These six head solid state machines offer a wide range of echo rhythms and effects, again overdriving like demons when pushed. Seriously cool devices for electronic adventurers. Add varispeed and they’re in another realm of creativity and sonic skulduggery.
Echorec PE 603 STEREO
We’ve only ever had one of these rare beasts, and restoring it nearly broke our Binson tech at the time. Two memory systems and twice the circuitry squeezed into the same space normally filled by a single channel, circuits made from cut down pieces of boards from a regular 603, and no schematic available! It sounded amazing, but sold before we even had the chance to become properly acquainted. Not for the faint of heart.
And that’s it for now. I could (and no doubt will) go on and on about these machines. And, with so many machines sold, we have an almost endless supply of demos. If you want to see them as they appear then our instagram feed is the place to be. And if you have comments, questions or Binson war stories then they are more than welcome.
For more information about buying vintage Echorecs (and the modern pedal emulations), please see my earlier blog, ‘Why Buy An Original Binson Echorec?’.
Are you looking to buy a fully-restored and guaranteed Binson Echorec? At the time of writing many of the machines that feature in the demos above are for sale. You can see the Echorecs we have listed for sale here, but if you don’t see what you need then please get in touch; most valve T7E and PE 603-T machines sell on a pre-order basis and rarely make it to the site.
And we also have a growing Binson Resources section on the site which includes links to further useful resources for on these machines.
Tony Miln is the co-founder (& Head Gear Head) of Soundgas. See/hear him in action on Instagram.