If you’re looking for a super clear-sounding delay with a ton of options at a fantastic price, then the Binary Eko should be considered. Below is a YouTube demonstrating its qualities:
This 24-bit pedal (44.1 kHz sample rate) boasts a dual-DSP (Digital Signal Processing) powered platform and a CDCM (Comprehensive Dynamic Circuit Modeling) system. This is one reason why the Binary Eko’s clarity found a secure spot on my pedal board. Not only are the tones super clear, even when adding modulation or tremolo (built into the Binary Eko), but you get a lot of usable delay variations based on several classic delay pedals and concepts, including EHX Memory Man, several Maxon models, 1980s rack delay, tape and tube delays, etc. As impressive is how flexible the Binary Eko is and within such a small footprint, thus allowing for a lot of tweaking possibilities. As cool is the fact that you can use an expression pedal with the Binary Eko to control the degree of mix, modulation, feedback (repeats) and time.
At a price of about $139 USD, there is a lot to like about this pedal. With 17 different types of delay, along with a host of features (being able to add modulation, tremolo, sweep, etc.) that can be controlled with an expression pedal, you get an incredible amount of bang for your buck. The clarity is awesome, and even when adding modulation and sweep the signal stays very clear, and this goes for the Dual Eko delay on the Binary Eko… with two delays working in unison or with different times/feedbacks – very impressive. Not only that, there is one delay in particular on the Binary Eko that is so pure (called the Pure Eko, of course) that must be one of the cleanest and clearest available. One thing I noticed that the Binary Eko does not have is a ‘tone’ knob, but having said that… I don’t miss it or think it necessary. There are plenty of delay variations that offer more ‘dirt’ (e.g., Tube Eko, Sweep Eko to name two) that allows you to achieve varying qualities in your overall tone. And if you’re working with any degree of distortion or drive, you likely want the delay to remain crystal clear and relative to the guitar’s signal – which the Binary Eko does in spades.
EASE OF USE
I really appreciate the easy-to-use downloadable software. This allows you to control the pedal from your computer monitor, if you wish, rather than having to stoop down to your pedal board to make adjustments. Obviously this is a perk for home-users, but also initially to create your patches since you can be very exact (e.g., 23% mix), as opposed to dialing in a knob. Scrolling through patches is very simple (two Banks x 5 patches each) – stepping on the Patch/Tap switch moves from one patch to the other (A1 through A5), whereas you need to step on both switches (Patch/Tap and the On/Off) simultaneously to access B1 through B5. Because of this, you would want your most used patches to be in A1 through A5 when gigging since stomping two switches 3-inches/8mm apart at the same time may not work fluidly always.
As with any digital delay pedal with a lot of features, the difficulty with the Binary Eko is what settings to choose, and there are plenty. You have 17 types of delay, ranging from vintage stuff (Tape, Tube, Rack and Slap Back) to modern classics (several Maxon models, an EHX Memory Man, Sweep Eko, Tremolo Eko, Dual Eko, Ping Pong, Lo-Fi, etc.). As with any delay pedal you then need to figure out your mix, feedback, time (or use the Tap Tempo feature accordingly) and if you’re going to add any modulation and how much. And to make matters more complicated and super fun, you can hook up an expression pedal (and determine the range parameters) so that you can achieve some very cool effects, like having a basic delay transform into a sweep delay. The Binary Eko may not be a basic plug-and-play pedal, but it’s certainly addictive and enjoyable to explore.
RELIABILITY & DURABILITY
Hotone’s Binary Eko appears to have a cast aluminum body (it’s not very heavy and feels like aluminum to the touch). The soft touch foot switches (no hard-lock clicking) feel very solid and are raised much higher than the other knobs and buttons – consequently, it is unlikely stomping will produce any damage issues to the other controls. The push buttons (those controlling Global, Save/Exit and the +/-) are small and only slightly higher than surface level; the OLED screen is at surface level and would not encounter damage under normal conditions. The top knobs (Mix, A/B, Feedback and Time) are small and encased in rubber for added protection (those knobs light up, which makes it easy to see in dark environments, and so the rubber is a good idea to help protect the contents, besides feeling good to the touch). All the connections are in the back, which saves on pedal board space and keeps the inputs/outputs away from a stomping foot. One thing to be aware of is that the Binary Eko requires a 200mA, whereas many power supplies may provide 150mA per outlet – make certain of a proper power supply. Lastly, the Binary Eko does not operate on batteries.