Tech

Roland’s iconic RE-201 Space Echo returns with two new Boss pedals


This is a good week for guitarists who love classical echo effects. Just a few days ago, Line 6 release DL4 MkII, a long-awaited update to its DL4 loop and delay pedals, one of the more widely used effects pedals of the past 20 years. And now Boss, one of the most famous and prolific guitar effects pedal manufacturers out there, has just announced the RE-202 and RE-2 Space Echo pedalsboth are inspired by Roland’s iconic, tape-based RE-201 Space Echo device Originally released in 1974.

For starters, the RE-201 Space Echo uses three analog tape heads to record and repeat a device’s signal. The device’s analog nature means that it has a number of sonic characteristics that make it unique and highly loved. That’s still the case – original RE-201s often sell for several thousand dollars.

The new RE-202, on the other hand, retails for $399.99 and offers the exact same controller as the original. Given that it’s 2022, we’re settling on a digital model that recreates all the quirks of the original, instead of the analog tape. But Boss has built in options to “age” the virtual tape, which means you can recreate the sound of the RE-201 when it came out of the factory, or give it the worn and quirky character that comes with a older devices. The RE-202 has essentially the same front controls as the original, with a prominent 12-position mode dial.

Boss pedal RE-202 and RE-2
New RE-202 and RE-2 pedals, pictured with original Roland RE-201 parts.

Boss

Of course, there are also many modern conveniences here. The length of delay you can dial is twice as long as it was originally, and there’s a footswitch so you can exploit the delay tempo, which is pretty common these days on pedals like this. There is also a fourth virtual tape head, compared to the three found in the original; this opens up five additional sound options.

The RE-2 is a cheaper and slightly less performant version of the RE-202. It’s a smaller one-foot switch pedal that Boss says has the same color scheme as the RE-202 in a more compact design. It’s not quite as full-featured and customizable as the RE-202, but it will offer larger and more expensive pedal-like sonic characteristics. It’s also a good choice if you don’t want to take up too much space on your pedals.

The RE-2 costs $249.99, $150 less than the RE-202. Both of these pedals are definitely priced in store territory. But a faithful reproduction of the RE-201 could be worthwhile for many players, as the original Space Echo has been used on thousands of recordings by some of history’s most famous artists, from Pink Floyd and Radiohead, to Lee Scratch Perry, Underworld and Lauryn Hill. If you want to get the same sound without breaking the bank for a smooth, tape-based original device, these new pedals are probably worth a look.

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