The Roland Space Echo. It’s a very evocative name for an effects unit. It conveys a feeling of depth and complexity, which is certainly how many players describe the sound of Roland’s legendary series of echo machines. The warm delay sound and distinctive reverb are hallmarks of the unmistakable tone that thousands of guitar players and record producers have found so addictive over the years. Heard on countless recordings and live stages since the 1970s, the Roland Space Echo has the ability to act as the cornerstone of any gear setup, and is as imperative to some musicians as a guitar, drum kit or synth is for others.
As one of the most iconic tape delays ever designed, the RE-201 is an early child of Roland’s dynasty of electro-mechanical effect processors which commenced in 1973 with the RE-100. And this one we believe is from the late 70s and is in pristine working condition.
It is a tape echo and reverb unit only – it does not have chorus as featured on the later 301 and 501 models.
This box of goodies contains a specialised tape recorder that can create delayed echo effects, together with a great spring reverb. To create the delay effects, incoming audio is recorded onto a loop of magnetic tape then replayed via one or more playback heads before being erased by incoming audio as the end of the loop is reached. The delay time between echo repeats is adjusted by varying the tape speed. The length or intensity of the echo effect is adjusted by changing the amount of echo signal fed back into the pre-echo signal.
A unique feature of the Roland tape echo devices is that the tape loop is contained in a special ‘tank’ or chamber where it is free to move around as the tape is moved across the record, playback and erase heads by a capstan drive – unlike other tape echo devices that use, for example, cassette-style tape cartridges with the tape wound onto spindles. Allowing the tape to move more freely produced less wow and flutter and reduced tape wear. This design also allowed for a much longer tape length making it possible to create echoes over three seconds in length. These features gave the Roland devices a distinct advantage over their competitors.
Used as a delay/echo, the Roland RE-201 is known to produce a potentially unpredictable delay that is warm and gritty sounding. It is also capable of producing a large variety of its own sound effects, even without an input signal (by turning the intensity control to maximum and allowing the unit to self-regenerate, or self-oscillate, while manipulating the tape speed and other controls).
This RE-201 is in great condition. It works as well today as the day it was let loose in the world sometime in the 1970s. It appears to be in unchanged original condition. All we have done is clean the tape heads and voila – crystal clear analogue tape echo goodness with lots of depth and a unique spaciousness that cannot be achieved with digital technology. You just have to hear it to understand.
The excellent spring reverb is a superb bonus - this unit sounds so lush, it’s hard to go back to anything else once you’ve tried it.
The black tolex is in good condition, the very retro VU meter is fabulous, all the mechanics are solid and everything works as it should. This is a fine example of a studio and stage staple that has been well looked after, with lots of miles left on the clock.
Comes with its original black Roland branded slip cover.