Pro Audio

Engineering the Sound: What’s the best Space Echo? Original, pedal, or plugin?

The Roland Space Echo hardly needs an introduction. Engineering the Sound tested out the original, pedal, and plugin versions of the iconic unit. Which one came out on top?

The Roland Space Echo is one of those effects that transcends studio expertise. It’s an iconic sound because it only takes one listen to make an indelible imprint on your memory — no matter if you’re an engineer, musician, or innocent bystander.

At Engineering the Sound, we were lucky to come into possession of three different versions of this famous unit (which is by no means an exhaustive list). On test is the original Space Echo RE-201, BOSS RE-20 pedal, and the AudioThing Outer Space. How do they stack up?

To get the measure of these different flavours of Space Echo, the team at Engineering the Sound set them up on snare drum, guitar, vocals. Endeavouring to replicate the same functions as closely as possible across the three versions, all the classic attributes of the Space Echo were tested — intensity, different echo modes, delay times — and of course — that spring reverb.

They say beauty is in the eye (or ear) of the beholder, but it’s hard to match the warmth and hands-on workflow of the original. Sure, they have their idiosyncrasies and imperfections, but in production and mixing, these are traits that can be celebrated. All that said, good luck trying to find one for less than a few grand.

Space Echo

The RE-20 pedal from BOSS might be just the thing if you’re aiming to incorporate Space Echo tones into your pedalboard. And nothing beats the Outer Space plugin for convenience and affordability.

One thing’s for sure — experimenting with three different versions of this bonafide classic is about as much fun as you can have in the studio.

While you’re here, read our feature article on the Space Echo and the artists that made it famous.