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


It’s a good week for guitarists who love a classic echo effect. Just a few days ago, Line 6 released the DL4 MkII, a long-awaited update to its DL4 delay and looper pedal, one of the more widely-used effects pedals of the last 20 years. And now Boss, one of the most prolific and well-known manufacturers of guitar effects pedal out there, has just announced the RE-202 and RE-2 Space Echo pedalsboth of which are inspired by Roland’s iconic, tape-based RE-201 Space Echo unit that was originally released way back in 1974.

For the uninitiated, the RE-201 Space Echo used three analog tape heads to record and repeat an instrument’s signal. The analog nature of the device meant that it had a number of sonic characteristics that made it unique and highly coveted. That’s still the case – original RE-201 units regularly sell for several thousand dollars.

The new RE-202, on the other hand, retails for $ 399.99 and offers the exact same set of controls as the original. Given that it’s 2022, we’re dealing with digital modeling recreating all the quirks of the original, rather than analog tape. But Boss built in options to “age” the virtual tape, which means you can recreate the sounds of the RE-201 as it was out of the box, or give it the worn nature and quirks that come with an older unit. The RE-202 has essentially the same front controls as the original, as well, with the 12-position mode selector dial prominently featured.

The new RE-202 and RE-2 pedals, pictured with the original Roland RE-201 unit.

Boss

Naturally, there are a lot of modern conveniences here, too. The delay length you can dial in is twice as long as the original, and there’s a footswitch so you can tap out the delay tempo, something that’s pretty common these days on pedals like this. There’s also a fourth virtual tape head, compared to the three found in the original; this unlocks five additional sound options.

The RE-2 is a less expensive and and slightly less capable version of the RE-202. It’s a smaller, single-footswitch pedal that Boss says captures the same tones as the RE-202 in a more compact design. It’s not quite as full-featured and customizable as the RE-202, but it should provide the same sonic characteristics as the bigger and more expensive pedal. It’s also a good choice if you don’t want to take up quite so much space on your pedalboard.

The RE-2 costs $ 249.99, $ 150 less than the RE-202. Both of these pedals are definitely priced in boutique territory. But a faithful recreation of the RE-201 might be worth it for a lot of players, as the original Space Echo has been used on thousands of recordings by some of the most popular artists in history, 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 wonky, tape-based original unit, these new pedals are probably worth a look.

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