The Roland RE-100 and RE-200 tape delays are the direct precursor to the well-known RE-101 and RE-201 Space Echoes. Both 200 models have a spring reverb, while the 100 series don’t, which is pretty much the only difference between them, as the internal electronics and sound are, as far as I can tell and apart from the reverb circuitry, identical.
The big difference between these early models and the famous Space Echos is the transport type, which on the RE-100 and RE-200 uses the Sony RE endless loop tape cartridges. The transport on both my units is stable, steady and reliable, but it tends to be a bit noisy (mechanical noise coming from the unit itself, not from the output) and, of course, there’s the problem of finding replacement cartridges more than thirty years after the last ones were manufactured… You can find more info on the Sony RE-4 & RE-5 cartridges here.
I don’t know for sure why Roland decided to abandon the Sony RE based transport for the more common free-running tape; perhaps increased fidelity, easier replacement and maintenance, or maybe Sony simply stopped making the cartridges and Roland had to change the design. It could also be that Roland didn’t want to depend on another company’s product for their machines. I have seen transition models of both RE-100 and RE-200 Space Echos, with orignal front panel but the new, free-running tape transport of later 101 and 201 models. I guess Roland had some front panels left over and didn’t want to waste them when they made the switch…
Both my RE-100 and RE-200 sound remarkably similar to my RE-201, so I guess nothing much was changed apart front the actual physical transport. These early models are thus a much cheaper alternative (about four times less here in Japan) to the now famous, sought-after model 201; they can deliver a similar sound, albeit with a few inconvenients: increased mechanical noise (which is really only an issue for studio work) and the ever-present risk of tape failure and difficult to find replacements, although I must point out that I’ve never had any tape failures with the Sony RE tapes….. so far…..
Technical Info / Service Notes
The main issue I had with my RE-100 and RE-200 was dirty contacts. The motor speed dial, particularly, can really mess up delay stability if it’s dirty. I sprayed some contact cleaner in all pots, wiggled for a while, and all the problems disappeared.
There’s also the issue of mechanical noise; I’m not 100% sure if it comes from the motor, the capstan bearing, the cartridge, or a combination of all of them. I haven’t really made any efforts to remove the noise, so I can’t be certain what’s causing it. It is annoying, though, when doing quiet studio work, because it’s loud enough to clash with quiet level monitoring. Once I get to fixing the problem, I’ll update this page.
Apart from that, I just did the usual head cleaning, and that was about it. Perhaps I was lucky….
|Manufacturer||Roland Corporation (Japan)|
|Transport type||Sony RE tape cartridge (some transition models feature a free-running tape like the RE-101 / 201)|
|Head selection|| 6-position dial (RE-100)
12-position dial (RE-200)
|Inputs||5 (mic x 2, instrument, line in, from PA)|
|Outputs||1 (with high/mid/low switch)|
|Wet output only||Yes, using 'from PA' input
|Pinch roller||Standby switch disengages pinch roller from capstan
|Tone control||2 (treble, bass)
|Remote Control||Echo on/off footswitch jack|
|Related models||Roland Space Echo RE-101 / RE-201, Ace Tone EC-10