We take a look at the wonderful world of tape delay plugins with this offering from French Developers Pulsar Audio. Let’s check out their Magnetic disk delay plugin in this Echorec review.
Echorec Review In Brief
The Pulsar Echorec is a software emulation of the iconic echo/delay unit of the same name produced by the Italian brand Binson in the 1960s. This sound has been a great contributor to audio produced in the 70’s from popular rock bands due to the sound of the magnetic disk delay differing from the tape delays normally seen in use in that era. We take a look further in our Echorec review.
Vintage Echorec devices are known for their saturation, self-oscillation, and over-sound, all shaping the music produced in the 70s. They are also, however, known to be fragile and difficult to maintain.
That is where the Pulsar Echorec plugin comes into its own, gives you a faithful emulation of this legendary echo unit. Additionally there are lots of improvements to the workflow from the original. Within this Echorec review we were able to see the ability to change the motor speed (and so the delay time) in real-time or to sync it to any tempo, including a tapped tempo.
Three different units, in different conditions, have also been precisely modelled, to have all sounds from the cleanest magnetic delay, to the most grunge.
Main Features of Echorec
Authentic Tube Sound
The unique sound of the tubular input section of the Binson Echorec has been accurately replicated. Special attention has been focussed in the filters.
Magnetic Field Recreation
All sorts of sound being passed through a magnetic device are modified in a specific way. Complex processes in the Echorec disk involving magnetic saturation have been precisely modelled.
Pulsar added the possibility of slightly detuning the left and right channels as a way to improve to the original unique hardware design which has resulted in a large stereo echo with precision placed repetitions.
A unique feature with the Echorec is the ability to slow the disk down with a finger. This results in creative pitch modulation and flutter effects on the delayed processed signal.
Three States of Wear
The fact of matter is that a Binson unit found nowadays has time travelled 50 years. Some can be found in in mint condition, and some are worn and used. When replicating these units, Pulsar found that each unit had a special colour, and some are really nice independently from the unit condition from which they selected the three units they liked the most which we can experience in this Echorec review.
Some effects just sound incredibly good, even when they’re not supposed to affect the sound at all. The Binson Echorec is one of these. So they carefully designed an Off mode that reproduces the colour and grit of the delayed signal, without any delay.
A tape echo uses a loop of tape to record and play back a signal. The Echorec uses a magnetic drum. There was one record head and four playback heads placed strategically to produce quarter, 8th, dotted 8th, and 16th note delays.
A selector switch allowed you to choose between various combinations of the playback heads, giving you the option of multi-tape delays.
The multi-head delay isn’t the only thing that makes the Binson Echorec special. The Echorec T7E model had six 12ax7 tubes. When you plugged a source into an Echorec, it would go on an audio journey through lots of tone sweetening.
There’s a magic in the circuitry of this product for the Echorec review, as with a lot of old analogue gear including the Maestro Echoplex. Many guitarists use old Echoplexes primarily as a preamp to get some of that sonic magic.
There is a need to emphasize that what makes this Echorec in this Echorec review special which isn’t just its multi-playback heads. Over the years, there have been so many attempts at capturing the Echorec sound in delay pedals with no attention to the sonic imprint a real Binson Echorec adds. For some that would be a fail. It’s the equivalent of trying to copy a tape echo by just cutting the high end on the repeats.
How does it perform?
In my tests with Bitwig Studio for the Echorec review on a the master output bus, I just got a real sense of nostalgia from this plugin and it added a little something special to my production. On the master buss this would effect the whole mix. However I wanted a portion of the effect, so dialled back the Wet/Dry know to about 40% to give me the sound I was after. Gritty and raw.
I hope you can tell from this Echorec review that it is certainly worth a look. Hence my 5 star rating.