The Roland RE 201 Space Echo, the iconic tape echo machine introduced in 1974, is one of the most sought-after sound tools of all times (don’t just take my word, it’s been used by the likes of King Tubby, Radiohead, The Orb, Portishead and many more).
To me, the RE 201 has always been a creative machine. It wasn’t just used for straight echo effects, either—by manipulating the tape speed and intensity while signal was present, you could coax a Space Echo into oscillation and pitch shift for some unreal sound effects.
Unfortunately, getting a second-hand one is not an easy option for many musicians (price, condition, etc.). Software emulations don’t provide the same instant gratification experience and gritty sound, but they are a convenient way to get you in the ballpark.
On my older Mac, I still cherish the good old UAD-1 Space Echo plugin and I’m glad to see that folks at AudioThing have recently created a new affordable emulation of the Roland RE 201, Outer Space.
AudioThing have modelled three different tape frequency responses and saturations, along with all the analog imperfections of tape recording/playback. They’ve also modelled the ballistic response of the delay rate which can create eerie pitch shifts, one of the classic tape echo-based sound effects.
Point Blank’s resident plugin test-dummy JC Concato has decided to put it through its paces, making it their Plugin of the Week this week. As the original unit, Outer Space features an echo section with three playback heads and a spring reverb tank.
If you’d like to learn mixing and mastering techniques, Point Blank offer courses for those at any level. Their BA (Hons) Music Production & Sound Engineering Degree in London is one of the most comprehensive courses out there, with modules covering mixing, sound design, production and much more.