The Best Binson Echorec Style Pedals For Great Analogue Echo Tones

Are you looking for the best Binson Echorec pedal clone? But don’t want to lug around a big magnetic drum echo machine worth over $2K to each gig?

Or maybe you want to get that Pink Floyd ‘Live at Pompeii’ guitar sound at home.

In this post, I’ll be testing the best Binson Echorec pedal clones and reviewing each one to help you find the ideal pedal for you.

I’ll be looking at pedals from across the price spectrum. From the cheapest and most affordable right up to the more boutique end of the spectrum.

And, towards the end, I’ll answer some common questions about the Binson Echorec.

Let’s dive right in:

The Best Binson Echorec Pedals For 2020

Pedal

Make + Model

Check Price + Availability

Dawn Prince Boonar

Strymon Volante

Catalinbread Echorec

Foxgear Echosex Baby

Keeley Darkside

Gurus Echosex 3 Delay

1. Dawner Prince Boonar

The Dawner Prince Boonar is a popular multi-head drum echo for those who want to recreate the magic of the Binson Echorec.

This pedal is handmade in Croatia and despite it’s fairly small footprint, comes with a large array of functionality.

You can control the volume of the echos, repeats and swells, adjust the tone from darker to brighter, increase the echo length (from 40ms to 1000ms) via the swell control and select which combination of playback heads you want to use.

Input control and drum age controls are adjusted via trimpots but you don’t have to take the backplate off to get at them. They’re located on the sides of the stompbox.

Removing the backplate does reveal additional controls in the form of dip switches. From here, you can switch between true bypass and buffered output (labelled as ‘Trails’ in the manual). 

You can also switch between vintage and modern modes. The vintage mode is darker, whereas the modern mode introduces more clarity and dynamics to your tone.

Personally I preferred the vintage tone setting the most. 

Dawner Prince states that they use the same analogue signal path for the Boonar as you would find on an original Binson. There are however, a few changes, naturally there is a DSP unit that emulates the behaviour of the magnetic drum. And a FET-input op amp to emulate the tubes that you would find in a Binson.

But most importantly – the Boonar sounds incredible. I highly recommend it.

2. Strymon Volante

If there was one echo pedal to rule them all, it would be the Strymon Volante. It may be more expensive than most but it also has far more functionality than any other Echorec emulation pedal on this list.

The Volante doesn’t just do the Binson Echorec thing. You also get multi-head tape echo and studio delay as well. It’s got stereo ins and outs as well as MIDI.

You can adjust the pre-amp gain, turn up the mechanics so you hear more of the inner workings of the playback heads, or increase the wear on the heads. So you can go from the sound of a pristine new Echorec to an Echorec that is almost falling apart.

You can adjust the number of repeats, spacing between the playback heads and dial in just the right amount of echo and spring reverb.

Choose which playback heads you want to enable and toggle between full or half volume. You can also control whether the feedback from the playback head will be fed into the corresponding record head.

There’s a TRS jack for an expression pedal, infinite repeats option, tap tempo and more.

But what I love most of all is that while there is a lot more functionality than you might think, all the important controls are at your fingertips. There’s no messing around with settings menus to fine tune your sound. 

So, in a way, this is a pedal for those who love to tweak but it also works well for players who want to get a great sound and not mess around too much (the favorite recall button is great for that).

3. Catalinbread Echorec

The Catalinbread Echorec is a great sounding Echorec style emulation pedals I’ve tried and it sits in the middle of the price spectrum. And is the size of a standard stompbox.

Across the top, we have – swell, tone, delay time. Followed by mix and program selection below.

The original Binson was limited to 300ms delay time but the Catalinbread Echorec offers more. Using the program selector in position one, you will have a single head with variable delay time of 40ms-1000ms.

In total, the program selector offers 12 different combinations of the 4 playback heads. One thing to note is the selector isn’t notched but that isn’t been an issue for me.

The mix control seems to be a fairly unique feature in these types of pedals and it’s useful to have because you can dial in just the right amount of echo.

And the features don’t stop there. There are internal controls as well. For example, we have a modulation trimpot, gain trimpot and bypass mode switch.

Catalinbread have become well known for high quality effects pedals in recent years but I haven’t tried many of their range yet. The Echorec gives me reason to explore more.

4. Foxgear Echosex Baby

There was a time when Echorec clones were all rather expensive but the Echosex Baby Delay from Foxgear has changed all that.

Now you can get Binson Echorec tones for less than a third of some of the other drum echo pedals on this list. Great, right?!

It’s clear that compromises have had to be made to get the price down. The main change being that there aren’t multiple playback heads.

That said, you can still get a heck of a lot of tones out of this pedal. Playing with the tone and age control yields some interesting tones and you can control the repeats, delay time and level.

And most importantly, the pedal sounds fantastic. 

The only real downsides to the Echosex Baby is that the stompbox enclosure is moulded so getting inside the pedal isn’t that easy and the footswitch is a bit too close to the controls.

Regardless, there’s so much to love about this pedal. Most importantly – this Echorec style pedal sounds great. Lush and warm vibes await you.

5. Keeley Darkside

The Keeley Darkside is unlike any other pedal on this list. 

One of the reasons Echorec pedals are so popular is because of the legendary guitar tones of Pink Floyd frontman, Dave Gilmour. 

Instead of simply going down the route of recreating the Binson Echorec in a pedal, Keeley went so much further and created what can only be described as Pink Floyd in a box.

Let’s start with the multi-head delay. On the left side of the pedal, we have a 12-way selector switch that allows you to choose which playback head combinations you want to use. Control delay time and feedback.

We can then switch from delay mode to flanger + rotary speaker or phaser and uni-vibe. Then, the tape head control becomes a blend control between both effects.

On the right hand side of the pedal, we have an op-amp Big Muff ‘77 style circuit offering glorious fuzz tones. We can switch between flat, scooped and full.

We can also change the order of the fuzz and modulation. There’s an expression TRS jack that will control the feedback of the delay or rate of modulation. There’s a TRS insert jack for good measure.

The Keeley Darkside is endless fun and sounds great.

6. Gurus Echosex 3 Delay

Gurus Echosex is the big brother of the Foxgear Echosex Baby.

This is the only pedal on the list that I haven’t tested but I would be remiss if I didn’t include it in a roundup of Echorec pedals.

So, how does this compare to its smaller sibling? 

The controls are very similar but there are a few key differences. Firstly, like the original Binson, the Echosex is tube powered. Specifically, by a 12AX7/ECC83 tube (or valve as we say here in the UK). 

The other significant difference is the tap tempo footswitch. This model also requires a 12 volt power supply.

What is the Binson Echorec?

The Echorec is an early Italian made echo machine that uses a magnetic drum instead of tape. The original Echorec was quite a large machine that was taken on the road by the likes of Dave Gilmour & Syd Barrett (Pink Floyd), Hank Marvin (The Shadows), Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin), and more.

Binson went on to produce several variations of the Echorec including a smaller version that used a magnetic disc, instead of drum.

One of the keys to the Echorec’s sound was it’s preamp. It was in fact tube powered and some artists used it purely for it’s preamp – it was that good.

Emulations and clones in pedal format have become popular in recent years because original units can set you back over $2,000 and require significant maintenance.

For a good primer on the Binson Echorec and to see how it compares to the pedals I mentioned earlier in this post, I highly recommend watching this episode of That Pedal Show, where Dan and Mick compare the original to the likes of the Dawner Prince Boonar, Catalinbread Echorec, and more.

This article from Abbey Road Institute is also worth checking out.

How does the Binson Echorec compare with other vintage echo gear?

Of the early analogue echo machines, there were two others that have become sought after.

This was the Maestro Echoplex (mainly the EP3 model) and the Roland RE-201 Space Echo.

The Echoplex is a single head tape echo, whereas the Space Echo is a multi-head tape echo.

Conclusion

There’s nothing quite like the sound of analogue echo. Especially the Binson Echorec. And they sound great with a bit of dirt behind them from something like a Klon Centaur style overdrive.

I particularly love the guitar pedals that allow you to dial in the wear and/or mechanics of the Echorec. There’s just something about the sound of analogue gear that’s falling apart.

Unlike types of pedals such as fuzz, reverb, preamps, etc – there’s not too much choice available for Echorec inspired pedals. But the pedals that are available all have that something special.

In the past, there was a huge price vacuum and affordable (you won’t have to sell your kidney) type pedals didn’t exist.

Fortunately, the Foxgear Echosex Baby has filled that gap without compromising on sound quality. However, you won’t be able to play around with different drum head combinations.

You could go to the other extreme and get the Strymon Volante – it handles drum echo (e.g. Binson Echorec), tape echo (e.g. Echoplex) and studio echo.

Then there’s the box of dreams – the Keeley Darkside. You get fuzz, echo and a bunch of modulation effects. It’s pretty much Dave Gilmour’s tone in a box.

Featured image credit: Tone Island // Adam Connell

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