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T-Rex Binson Echorec: Echoes of the Past

A New Take on an Iconic Studio Effect

Brian Griffith · 04/24/23

For eight years, T-Rex has been developing a modern version of one of the most beloved delays ever created: the Binson Echorec. While tape delays dominate the vintage delay enthusiast market, Binson's original design offers something decidedly different and difficult to engineer—with a sound that few other devices could create.

In some old military technologies, magnetic wire was wrapped around a drum, flattened, and used for recording—rather than using magnetic tape. That same idea was used in the original Binson Echorec, but with adjustments for musical applications. Added level controls, multiple playback and recording heads, and a tube-powered preamp all contributed to sounds that have been heard most famously on Pink Floyd records and live performances…as well as countless other '60s and '70s psychedelic acts.

While the Echorec's sound has been chased and coveted by many, the originals did have a few issues that made it hard to maintain. The nature of the rotating drum and its exposure to the elements meant that cleaning it was necessary very often, to the point of having a small holder and cleaning solution built into the unit. We all love that vintage tube sound, but the reality of maintaining equipment built using that technology means that spare fuses, tubes, and a watchful eye (ear?) is necessary to make sure it's in tip-top shape. Another limitation, that can easily be argued as a welcome creative constraint, is the fixed nature of the speed and delay times. You got four record heads and four playback heads with fixed timing; you're free to use any combination you want, but there is not a lot of fine-tuning you can do to the delay time. Well, that is, until now.

The Past Repeats

T-Rex meticulously studied the original, as documented on their website, and kept all the wonderful things that made the Echorec so special, but also added a few modern adjustments to ensure reliability for years to come. The most obvious difference is the size: the T-Rex Binson Echorec can easily be moved, and then just the fact that we have modern components that will have longevity that vintage gear simply doesn't. However, a few other touches that make the T-Rex Binson Echorec special is the fact that you now have control over the speed of the rotating drum. Adjustable from +/- 20%, you can now dial in delay rhythms that are more precise and locked in with any project. And of course, adjusting the speed as it plays is a sure way to create all manner of peculiar, time-warped, psychedelic effects.

T-Rex did remove the option to have four record heads and give you the option for either Short or Long time ranges, but most people won't notice, and the Long option is identical in length to the original's fourth record head—David Gilmour's purported favorite. T-Rex did leave the playback heads intact, however, giving you four buttons to engage any combination of playback heads you'd like, easily making most classic sounds readily available. An added Echo Tone knob lets you adjust the color of your sound, as well, for the perfect hug for your audio signal.

Of course, the most important detail that has remained intact is the haunting Magic Eye that was featured on the originals. This is simply a glowing circle that reacts to the audio signal, but creates a wonderfully dynamic effect in a darkened studio or on a dimly lit stage. T-Rex's Binson Echorec is quite possibly the most unique, impressive modern recreation of a vintage piece of gear we've seen, and we cannot wait to get lost in the swell.