December 7, 2023

Valve Echo

Yesterday we had a look at valves or vacuum tubes and today I`m going to take that thinking to echo. What kind of echo do you like? Crisp clear and digital? I`ve got a Line 6 echo park under my desk but that`s just because I use it for fun at work – it`s not really got the flavour and the behaviour I really dig. It`s just not tasty enough. If you really want to get fat rounded sounds then these are the echo units you should consider having a look into.

Gibson Echoplex
Roland Space Echo
WEM copycat
Binson Echorec
Blue coconut echoverb

The absolute beauty of tape based echo units lies in the fact that tape itself is analogue – moving the tape across a tape head polarizes the magnetic domains in the tape in proportion to the fluctuations in the audio signal. The granular nature of the magnetic material adds noise to the signal and because the magnetic characteristics of tape are not linear tape exhibits a characteristic hysteresis curve, which causes unwanted distortion of the signal. Any analog signal must theoretically have noise and a finite slew rate. It`s the imperfection in tape that makes the sound so delicious.

Whilst having a jam outside in the hot sun one year the copycat tape began to melt, decay and whither and this lead to some pretty crazy sounds coming through the p.a. and across the Surrey Hills. If you want to hear some Space Echo then maybe have a look at Adam Ants Table Talk from his unbelievably mind blowing 1979 release Dirk Wears White Sox. If you haven`t heard it buy it. It`s incredible IMHO.

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