What's a BinAmp? Well, the fine folks at PSPaudioware love the sound of the preamp section of the Binson Echorec 2 delay, those cool metal-based magnetic drum delays from Italy, first introduced in 1960. Utilizing six 12AX7/U7 tubes, the real Echorec 2 tonally changes instruments run through it. Listen to Pink Floyd's music to hear everyone but the drummer filtering their instruments through an Echorec 2 up until the mid-'70s, and don't tell me that it didn't sound cool.

The crunch of the virtual Class A triode preamp circuits in the PSP BinAmp is generally very musical. On bass guitar, I thought it could add some good bite or edge as needed. I can hear the signal clamp down at some extreme settings; the same effect you get when pushing tube amplifier stages too hard. On drums, the presets varied from very subtle to blown out, but many offered up slight tonal shifts that I could imagine helping out a mix in a few beneficial ways. I've long been using guitar amp/cabinet simulation plug-ins to EQ and change electric guitar tracks when mixing. I find that with these different shifts of tonality I can frequently find sounds that fit in a mix better than simply using normal EQ or compression. I can see using the PSP BinAmp in exactly this same way, shaping sounds to all work together in a mix. I was able to get well-recorded guitars to sound even deeper, or crunchier, or sizzley than they had been, but, once again, in musical ways that would work – far unlike some of the ancient plug-ins that scorched my ears back in the day.

There are a fair number of extra controls, and I would recommend checking out the manual to understand some of the workings and slightly hidden features, but – as always with PSP – there are a lot of presets to try and all of them work well in different ways. Mainly, note that Character plays with the amplifier's time response and changes the Saturation's sound, and keep an eye on the BLN "trimpot" as it controls the blend of saturated and clean signals.

In some ways the PSP BinAmp might be a hard sell to many users, but they will be missing out. I have a weird feeling it will be insinuating itself into my in the box mixing workflow, and in a slightly subtle way – like how a real console or summing changes the results. I think I found what the PSP folks heard in the Echorec in the first place!

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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