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Tape delay sounds fantastic, but it can be a pain. Lugging around rolls of tape and a giant echo unit isn’t exactly convenient, especially on tour. That’s why Boss made the RE-20 Space Echo, a digital twin pedal that replicates the reverb and echo of the legendary Roland RE-201.
Before you even consider picking up the RE-20, take note that this pedal is not for everyone. In fact, it’s for very few. Like all Boss pedals, the Space Echo is not true bypass, so you will experience minimal tone suckage. Additionally, like the original RE-201, the Space Echo colors your tone slightly even when not engaged, which some players might not enjoy.
The reverb is also an acquired taste. If you’re looking for an organic-sounding spring reverb, look elsewhere. The Space Echo’s reverb tone is bold and unnatural, and it’s difficult to dial it in to sound otherwise.
That does it for the potentially bad—now, on to the good. I bought the RE-20 because of its faithful imitation to the original, which it delivered and then some. Unlike my DL4’s tape echo setting, which tends to sound a little flat and sterile, the Space Echo has a warm, organic tone that sounds almost exactly like its Roland predecessor.
Also, like the RE-201, the RE-20 has twelve selectable modes: one with reverb only, four with delay only, and seven with reverb and delay. Each setting engages a different combination of echo heads, giving you a variety of delays. When put in the long setting, the Space Echo’s delay time goes up to six seconds.
As I mentioned, though, this pedal is not for everyone. As its name suggests, the Space Echo is most at home in psychedelic, noisy, and weird genres: space rock, shoegaze, stoner metal, and so forth. If you need any proof of this, crank up the intensity knob on the delay settings and observe the face-melting and utterly unpredictable chaos that ensues.
For an even more far-out sound, you can hold down the right pedal (normally used for tap tempo) for an oscillating effect that gradually increases in intensity. If desired, you can control this ‘twist’ effect, along with the other echo settings, with an expression pedal.
[rating:4] 4 – Build Quality
[rating:4] 4 – Sound Quality
[rating: 4.5] 4.5 – Features
[rating: 4.5] 4.5 – Ease of Use
[rating: overall] 4.25
Purchase Info and More Details:
So, for all you space cadets out there, take it from a fellow psych-head: the Boss Space Echo is a must-own pedal. However, if you’re looking for a simple, creamy analog delay, MXR’s Carbon Copy might be a better purchase.