CATALINBREAD ECHOREC – DESIGN PERSPECTIVES
The Echorec was so cool we wanted to bring it back. And we wanted to bring it back right. We wanted to take all the goodness of that huge Binson Echorec and squeeze it down into a standard sized stompbox without losing anything. In fact, not only did we not want to lose any of its qualities that made it such a compelling musical device, we wanted to EXTEND its capabilities because the original Binson hinted at possibilities that it couldn’t realize. We’re talking about variable delay time! We thought, “What if we had the same four playback head concept but could stretch the delay time out beyond the 300ms limitation? Then the rhythmic patterns suggested by the various combinations of those four playback heads could really come to life!” Since most of the Binson’s settings were basically within the “slapback echo” delay time range, you couldn’t really play off of the syncopations suggested by the head combinations. And it turns out the one example that we all know of that IS syncopated, namely the bass part on Pink Floyd’s “One Of These Days” uses a single-tap setting – just head 4, which is 300ms, with a few repeats – so really, you could play that part with any old delay pedal. We felt there was something lurking in the Binson concept that hadn’t been realized yet and could be unlocked by allowing longer delay times while still maintaining the equidistance between the four playback heads. For example, if we selected for playback, head 1,3,4 then the rhythm becomes: P 1 x 3 4, where P is your initial picking and x is head 2 turned off. The “x” becomes the rest note in the rhythm. This is hard to explain in writing but you hear it right away! So variable delay time up to 1000ms for head 4 was our goal, with heads 1, 2, and 3 divided evenly within that. For example, if set to the maximum delay time, head 4 would be 1000ms, head 3 would be 750ms, head 2 500ms, and head 1 250ms.
And we wanted a more musically useful tone control so we came up with a “tilt” style tone control that centers around noon and allows you to get warmer and deeper or brighter and thinner so you could either have the echos behind your playing with the darker settings or on top of your playing with the brighter repeats that emphasize the pick attack.
And we also wanted to provide an audio path that was as musically compelling as the tube audio path in the Binson, because what the Binson does for your overall guitar tone and response is as important as the fact that it is an echo device. We came up with a preamp circuit that utilizes two silicon transistors specifically tuned for huge clean headroom and maximum touch sensitivity. We didn’t want to go with the normal audio driver circuits commonly found in delay pedals. They get the job done but they literally constrict your guitar signal and take away your playing dynamics; playing soft or playing hard results in the same response – flat. Our circuit actually ENHANCES the touch sensitivity of your amp. You’ll find that you’ll be able to go from whisper soft to full-on hard and loud attack just from varying your picking strength with the Catalinbread Echorec between your guitar and amp.
The combination of the four-tap delay with our exclusive audio path gives you an immersive playing experience that will have you playing inside the sound rather than on top of it. Our vision for our Echorec was to make it a musical instrument, not just an “effects processor”. To us, what makes a pedal become a musical instrument is when it responds to your playing nuances rather than just adding a coating to your sound that ends up reducing your potential for expressiveness; light and shade as Mr. Page would say. Specifically, the Echorec gives you a huge dynamic range to work within – play softly and delicately and it breathes and shimmers gently. Hit it hard and your volume jumps up and hits your amp hard. Most common delay pedals end up functioning somewhat like limiters, evening out your playing dynamics regardless of how hard or soft you’re playing. So while the delay lines in our Echorec are digital, your direct guitar signal never gets digitized. Our preamp driver circuit drives both your direct signal and the digital delay line system and is mixed passively without buffering to preserve and enhance the integrity of your guitar’s signal.
Another thing we focused on was how the dry signal and the echo signal blended. We wanted the dry and echo sounds to be well integrated together and not separate and disconnected like you’ll find on some delay pedals. What we achieved was a blend that allows you to go from soupy and ambient to distinct and separate just by how you play it – let the notes hold out and overlap and the Echorec responds by creating a wide spacious swirl; play muted staccato passages and you’ll hear the distinctive Echorec syncopation repeats.
Just like a musical instrument, the more you play your Echorec the more expressive depth you’ll find in it.
Yeah, we’re pretty stoked on this thing. We know you will be too!