This space-saving echo delivers a digital version of the classic tape unit.
Immersive, lush delay textures that sound fantastic in small doses or super-wet settings. Clever consolidation of Space Echo controls. Fun to use. Sturdy.
No independent bass and treble settings.
Boss RE-2 Space Echo
As good as digital emulations are today, there’s not much engineers can do to approximate the tactile experience of interacting with vintage hardware. Few devices illustrate this divide quite as effectively as tape echoes. Take it from a masochist who knows—tape echoes are intrinsically infuriating machinery. They break often, sometimes spectacularly, always expensively, and generally at the most inconvenient possible time. Think of your most-disloyal-ever significant other: Chances are, your fave tape echo will beat them hands-down for unreliability.
The problem, as any experienced tape-echo user knows, is that these lumbering analog hulks are instruments in their own right—with functionality and feel that that can become foundational parts of a playing style not easily replicated in the digital domain. This is especially true for the original Roland RE-201 Space Echo. It invites on-the-fly tweaks ranging from playful polyrhythms to time-smearing, oscillating mayhem. Its capacity to double as a mix-stage instrument in the studio also makes it extra-invaluable to many player/recordists. And it’s pretty hard to replicate the intuitive, hands-on experience of working with its well-spaced knobs and their unique taper, layout, and sensitivity.
Boss’ RE-2 ambitiously attempts to distill the RE-201 experience into a compact digital format. But unlike the RE-20 pedal or the new RE-202, which utilize larger, more full-featured layouts that approximate some interactive thrills of the RE-201, the RE-2 fits all that functionality into a standard-sized Boss enclosure. Inevitably, that requires a hidden function or two—like the digital preamp and twist functions, and the assignment of (optional) expression pedal functions. But what Boss accomplished here in terms of delivering a Space Echo vibe in a pedal for space-conscious players is impressive. And in practice, it’s a fun and inspiring unit.
One great thing about any Boss pedal is the seared-in-the-prefrontal-cortex familiarity of the form. It enables you to approach any compact Boss pedal with a lot more confidence. That sense of assuredness comes in handy with the RE-2 because there are a fair number of controls to manage. Packing that many control options into such a small space is not an enviable task. But Boss, to their credit, made the essentials—reverb, echo volume, intensity (repeats), tone, repeat rate, and a wow and flutter control—easily accessible via clever concentric knobs. The critical 11-position mode knob is vague and hard to read in low light, though. So, you’ll probably want to keep a printed copy of the head-combination matrix handy—or just navigate the multi-head sounds by feel.
Space constraints mean that some classic Space Echo features are hidden or consolidated into simpler controls. The very flexible bass and treble controls on an original (and the RE-20 and RE-202) become a single, if effective, tone control here. And the instrument-volume preamp control is a fixed analog preamp emulation option that, nonetheless, adds a discernible element of warm saturation.
Putting Heads Together
Much of the Space Echo’s allure is down to the painterly way you interact with it. And despite the RE-2’s size, you can still get pretty creative on the fly. With the pedal’s three virtual heads, it’s easy to create complex rhythmic textures that don’t collapse into a chaotic, odd-metered, miasmatic mess. The tap-tempo function adds a measure of additional control. It’s fun exploring these compound echoes, even if they lack some of the hiccup-y, polyrhythmic potential of virtual tape echoes with more playback “heads.”
Some players ignore the original RE-201’s spring reverb. But for this reviewer, it’s an essential part of the Space Echo sound that I love using on its own. It’s represented on the RE-2 by a nice spring emulation that complements the echoes in seamless fashion. Although it doesn’t have quite the character of the RE-201’s spring, it still sounds cool by itself.
Fitting all the functionality and feel of a Space Echo in a compact Boss Pedal is impossible. But if you drop the comparisons to the RE-201, the RE-2 is an engaging, flexible, and very practical delay with a lot of personality. Delay-soaked settings sound beautiful, rich, and immersive. Even players that have never touched an original Space Echo will still find a lot of expressive potential and utility here. The fact that the RE-2 makes so much of the Space Echo’s essence accessible in a small pedal is no small victory. I suspect that even a lot of jaded Space Echo purists with an interest in downsizing will find reason to celebrate.
The world-famous RE-201 Space Echo effect makes its return in compact-pedal form with the BOSS RE-2 Space Echo! Offering authentic multi-head tape echo effects with expanded delay times, the beloved spring reverb sound, and a ton of control over effects parameters, the RE-2 Space Echo sounds amazing with guitars and keyboards, as well as drum machines. An external footswitch/expression pedal input gives you creative hands-free control options, and the true stereo signal path is perfect for multi-amp rigs and studio mixing applications.
Pigtronix is proud to announce the launch of Echolution 3. Following the success of its sought-after predecessors, Echolution and Echolution 2, the all-new Echolution 3 offers a streamlined user interface, remarkably hi-fidelity audio, and more selective sound design options than ever before.
Echolution 3 is a multi-tap stereo modulation delay offering a myriad of sound design options including reverse, jump, pong, modulation tempo sync, variable low pass filter, flexible signal routing and comprehensive MIDI control. Delay times ranging from 100ms to 5 seconds can be dialed in using the Time knob or via Tap Tempo using the left footswitch. A second delay tap can be set to the same length or a fraction of the main delay time to create rhythmic echoes. The ¾ fraction creates a dotted eight note delay, while the Golden fraction uses the sacred geometry of the Golden Ratio (.382) as the multiplier for the second tap. The multi-tap settings can be even further enhanced by the stereo ping pong effect, which causes the different delay taps to switch sides on each repeat. Store up to 4 presets, unlock hidden features with the Universal Remote footswitch, and design yet unheard delay lines. Runs on standard 9VDC.
Pigtronix Echolution 3 | Stereo Multi-tap Delay | Official Demo
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Pre-digital delay emulations are full of quirky character.
Superb warts-and-all retro delay sounds. Great variation and tweakability within each model. Desktop and mobile apps for editing via USB and Bluetooth.
No real time modulation. Power supply not included.
Universal Audio Starlight Echo Station
Universal Audio excels at wart-and-all models of vintage audio effects. True to form, their Starlight Echo Station replicates three pre-digital delay effects in all their wonderful wartiness. Its algorithms derive from the tape-based Maestro Echoplex, the bucket-brigade Electro-Harmonix Deluxe Memory Man, and the Cooper Time Cube, an obscure effect that generates echoes via (no joke!) a length of rubber hose. There's also a modern digital delay.
Delay of the Land
Each algorithm has three variations, selectable via toggle. A color knob adds additional variations, while another knob introduces tape wobble or other modulation effects. Starlight stores one sound in memory, so you can toggle between the current front-panel setting and the saved effect. There's a tap-tempo footswitch. With its dual effect processors, Starlight provides true stereo sound and seamless spillover when switching algorithms.
This mode resurrects the Maestro Echoplex tape delay. The brightest, cleanest setting is based on the EP-4, the "studio" Echoplex that added a compressor and bass and treble controls to the signal path. The B and C algorithms derive from better known EP-3, one with a slightly worn tape and motor, and one with even greater wear and tear.
The EP-4 settings are perfect for clear, articulate delays with subtle analog coloration. The B and C settings display the treble loss and playback glitches of a well-loved EP-3. UA didn't just slap on a low-pass filter and a pitch LFO here though. This really sounds like a geriatric machine. The modulation knob adds simulated wow/flutter, while the color knob sets tape input level. In other words, you can overdrive the modeled preamp.
This effect mimics Electro-Harmonix's Deluxe Memory Man with its bucket-brigade delay chip. Nowadays this technology's limitations are its chief appeal. The wet signal lacks treble, and fidelity decreases with each echo repeat. These soft, lo-fi delays sit discretely behind your dry signal, evaporating before they outstay their welcome.
Starlight nails this quirky color, especially the idiosyncratic distortion. The modulation knob clones the original's chorus and vibrato effects. Again, the color knob drives the input level for additional distortion. It's a stellar simulation, full of warmth and weirdness.
UA didn't just slap on a low-pass filter and a pitch LFO here though—this really sounds like a geriatric machine.
This straightforward digital delay generates crisp, non-degrading echoes. Here the color knob is a low-pass or high-pass filter that darkens the echoes or rolls off the bottom end. Meanwhile, the modulation control adds chorus or flange, simultaneously controlling mix, depth, rate, and feedback. Slight delay-time tweaks uncover cool new colors.
Cooper Time Cube
This obscure "garden hose delay" has acquired a cult following. The original could only generate 30ms of delay. That's too short for a perceptible echo—it was simply an early doubling effect. UA's emulation adds greater delay times, feedback, and tempo sync. (The original Cube would have required a half-mile of hose to generate Starlight's longest delays.)
The core tone isn't as freaky as you might expect. The wet signal is a smaller, filtered version of the dry signal that rarely overpowers it, especially if you nix some treble. There's no modulation here — instead, you get bass and treble filters. These discrete echo tones suit many musical contexts, however.
The Starlight Echo Station convincingly conjures tape and bucket-brigade delays in all their anarchic glory. I'd consider buying it if it only included the Echoplex or Memory Man simulations. The digital and garden-hose delays are welcome extras. Starlight has a "Goldilocks" interface: lots of tonal options without excessive complexity. It occupies the same price category as fine delays from Strymon, Eventide, and others. But if you cherish the weird, warped aspects of pre-digital delays, Starlight may be your best option.