The Roland RE-100 and RE-200 tape delays are the direct precursors to the well-known RE-101 and RE-201 Space Echoes. 200 series units have a spring reverb, while the 100 series don’t, which is the main difference between them, along with the addition of a peak level indicator and a few more settings on the mode selector switch. Apart from that, the internal electronics and sound seem identical.
The big difference between these early models and the famous 101/201 Space Echos is the transport type, which uses Sony RE tape cartridges. The transport is stable, steady and overall reliable, but it tends to be noisy, with lots of mechanical noise coming from the cartridge and motor.
The main issue nowadays is finding replacement cartridges, more than thirty years after the last ones were manufactured. These units’ reliance on Sony RE cartridges is, in this day and age, certainly their weakest point. The reason why Roland decided to abandon the Sony RE based transport for a more common free-running tape is uncertain; perhaps increased fidelity, easier replacement and maintenance, or Sony stopping production of the cartridges. Transition models do exist, with 100/200 front panel and controls fitted with 101/201 free-running tape transport, but they are uncommon. You can find more info on the Sony RE-4 & RE-5 cartridges here.
Technical Info / Service Notes
Some of the issues encountered with ESTECHO’s units were mostly due to dirty potentiometer contacts, which could be resolved easily with contact cleaner spray.
As previously mentioned, mechanical noise is problematic. Compared to the RE-101/201, noise emanating from the motor and the tape cartridge itself is fairly high, enough to create annoyance in a studio environment. Cartridge noise can be reduced by keeping the lid on the unit, but the motor’s rumble cannot. Perhaps at the time of leaving the factory, these units weren’t as noisy, but comparing is impossible, and both of ESTECHO’s units are just as noisy, which tends to show they were always like this.
A small-signal audio amp transistor had to be replaced in one of the units, after it began making squeaking noise at the output, even with no input signal present. Identifying the failed transistor was fairly straightforward, using standard signal tracing techniques, and once replaced the unit was fully functional again.
|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