What Tape Should I Use In My Roland Echo?
WRITTEN BY: Tony Miln
UPLOADED: 16th Oct 2017
Tape: The Never-ending Quest…
All tape is not equal. One of the conditions of our guarantee is that you only use new EchoFix tape loops – supplied by us or by Shane at Echo Fix in Australia (we fit new Echofix loops in all our machines). Shane is, like us, somewhat of an obsessive echo perfectionist and his site is the number one resource in the world for new Space Echo parts: if you need something to fix your echo, head over to Echofix.
[link to our echo tapes & Echo Fix site]
A couple of years ago, we suddenly had around a dozen of our machines stop working 2-5 weeks after we sent them out. We weren’t selling as many back then and this occurred over the course of about 3 months. The cost of return shipping, re-servicing and re-sending hit us hard. By a process of elimination we narrowed the culprit down to sub-standard tape loops – they worked fine for a few weeks before they shed their coating, clogging everything up. At the time we were supplied by a well-known online tape echo supplier; I contacted them to explain that they appeared to have a bad batch of tape, but received a reply that they’d had no other complaints. Needless to say, that was the end of our association. Fortunately, Huw had found EchoFix when on tour in Australia and we were soon up and running again.
[photo of tape??]
This is not our only caveat regarding tape loops – many online ‘experts’ (including another European supplier whose loops also caused us great trouble) will assert that BASF LGR-50 is the best tape to use in a Space Echo. LGR-50 is a broadcast quality formulation and does sound very good, however the tape is much thicker than original Roland tape, and we have experienced problems with loops made using LGR-50 (I know it’s possible for some LGR-50 loops to work well in a Space Echo, but we neither recommend nor guarantee it).
We also sell original NOS Roland RT1-L tapes, when we can find stock, and they do sound great, but we do not guarantee our machines if RT1-L tapes are used. This may seem odd, but tape stock is very susceptible to atmospheric conditions – unless it is stored in a cool dry stable environment, it can degrade over time. Given that the Roland loops are in some cases approaching 40 years old, we cannot be sure how well they have been stored and therefore cannot guarantee their performance. Echo Fix loops are the only tapes we recommend (and they’ll also work fine in Korg Stage Echoes).
What did Roland use?
This is a question that remains unanswered – Tony has personally asked the CEO of Roland, Jun-Ichi Miki (who started his career on the RE-201 assembly line) but it appears that Roland themselves no longer have that information – they do not even know who designed the RE-201. We’re still investigating – anybody who has information, please get in touch.
Tony Miln is the co-founder (& Head Gear Head) of Soundgas. See/hear him in action on Instagram.