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Are Roland Tape Echoes Reliable? (Spoiler: yes, ours are…)

Tony-Miln-Soundgas

WRITTEN BY: Tony Miln

UPLOADED: 16th Oct 2017

Roland-Echo-Tower-copy

A quick run through some of the reasons that we are happy to call out the idea that Roland Space and Chorus Echoes are not reliable. We’re confident that this is a myth brought into being by too many people spending time with neglected and abused machines. However, like many things, it’s about arming yourself with knowledge, and realising you get what you pay for…

Note that this blog has now been repurposed in our Roland resources section.

Oh, and yes – the same applies to Korg Stage Echoes – they can and should sound superb and run reliably.

But before we get into that here’s a time-lapse video showing our tech Doctor Huw servicing one of our RE-201 Space Echoes:

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Are you experienced?

So we sell a lot of Space Echoes. So what? An immediate advantage to you when buying from a business selling as many as us is we are constantly refining our processes and systems. We never stop learning from and about the machines, and from our customers’ experiences with them. And we guarantee everything we sell, so it costs us a great deal if something goes wrong with one of our echoes after worldwide shipping – that really focuses us on making them perfect and rock solid and our return rate due to faults is very low indeed.

We only buy in machines which appear to have had below average use and are in good cosmetic condition: this is an immediate advantage from both sonic and reliability perspectives. Low hours means less head/motor wear; good cosmetics suggests easy lives not spent in sweaty studios heavy with smoke or being kicked around on tour. Tape echoes that have had 40 years of hard use are increasingly difficult to restore to a high standard. Many people (myself included) wrote RE-201s off for so long – the experience was only of abused machines that rarely performed well (if at all) and languished in studio corners looking iconic, but sounding pretty bad (I swapped my first one for a pristine 501 that ran beautifully and didn’t hum).

Over the years, we’ve seen just about every possible issue arise and have improved our service schedule to iron out preventable faults before they leave our hands. Huw’s experience keeping echoes performing at their best on the road and our extensive knowledge of the pitfalls of sourcing and sending gear all over the world – combined with our shared studio experience – means our machines not only work well on arrival with our customers, but that they should continue doing so for many years to come. We also guarantee that our Roland echoes sound as good as can be achieved with 40+ year-old machines – as close to factory spec as possible.

Roland Space Echo RE-100 RE-101 RE-150 RE-201

The Doctor will see you now

Doctor Huw, our main in-house echo tech, is a living legend who’s repaired and cared for these machines for nearly 25 years (often upside down, in the dark and with a torch in his mouth onstage in the middle of a gig). Initially BBC-trained, Huw’s skills and knowledge have been tested and honed out on the battlefield as a live tech with many years on the road with the likes of Portishead, Massive Attack and Robert Plant. His wide experience and knowledge of repairing and improving old gear has seen our Roland tape echoes go from strength to strength in recent years, culminating in us supplying Roland themselves with machines for their recent Cause And Effects show in London.

Finally, we have info on the site about other related matters including care of your Roland echo, and more about our journeys into which tape is best

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Tony Miln is the co-founder (& Head Gear Head) of Soundgas. See/hear him in action on Instagram.

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