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Boss RE-2 Space Echo review

The long-rumoured and much-anticipated compact Space Echo arrives, but is it worth the wait?

Boss RE-2
(Image: © Phil Barker / Future)

Guitar World Verdict

On almost every front, the RE-2 has knocked it out of the park. It sounds good, it looks good, and it’s fun to use.

Pros

  • +

    Super simple controls make it easy to find great echo tones.

  • +

    Plays nicely with distortion.

  • +

    It’s a compact Space Echo!

Cons

  • -

    Number labelling for modes is not very helpful.

  • -

    Reverb is hard to dial-in.

There’s been speculation about a compact Space Echo emulation for years, ever since a photoshop mockup went viral on pedal forums. Boss, with their ear to the ground, couldn’t have failed to notice. 

A couple of years later and here we are with the RE-2 in hand. So how does it stack up?

The first thing you notice is how sharp the design is. The front panel takes visual cues from the original Space Echo, while the pedal enclosure itself sticks to the now-classic Boss pedal aesthetic. It’s a fine line to tread the two design styles, but this is one cool-looking pedal.

It takes seconds to dial in a great tape echo sound and get going

Sound-wise, it takes seconds to dial in a great tape echo sound and get going. The enduring popularity of the Boss compact line is their simplicity as much as their sounds. Even the three double-action rotary pots here take only a second to work out.

The mode control is the only exception, and it takes a few tries of rotating it to get a handle for what’s going on: tape head combinations, as it turns out. 

Boss RE-2

(Image credit: Phil Barker / Future)

On some modes, the reverb is off – perplexing, since it has its own pot, so having it off in some modes seems redundant. The tape repeats are convincing, and the separate tone control is a nice touch for controlling the ‘tape age’, or darkness of the repeats.

Like the original units, there aren’t long delay times available, but they’re long enough for most applications. 

One of the best things about tape echoes is creating a reverb-like ‘smear’ of shorter echoes which blend together due to their dark timbre. Especially by inching up the Wow and Flutter control, dialling in these kind of washy sounds is very easy.

The RE-2 responds well to distortion pedals in front, or indeed after it, and it’s less jumpy than the vintage originals, lacking a controllable preamp. Sound-wise our only complaint is that the reverb, like on the original RE-201, is a bit hard to dial in. 

Also, on the control front, it would have been nice to have some kind of heuristic to remember the modes by. It feels like the numbers are used for design reasons rather than to aid the player in a hurry.

All in all, it’s a pedal with serious amounts of vibe. And though it’s edging towards the price of larger units like the Strymon El Capistan and the Boss DD-500, both of which boast larger feature sets, that vibe may tempt you to find space on your pedalboard for the RE-2.

Specs

Boss RE-2

(Image credit: Phil Barker / Future)
  • PRICE: $259 / £199
  • POWER: 9V battery or DC Centre-negative power supply
  • INPUTS: Stereo In, Stereo Out, Ctl/Exp in
  • CONTROLS: Echo/Reverb, Intensity/Tone, Repeat Rate/Wow & Flutter, Mode
  • CONTACT: Boss (opens in new tab) 

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Alex Lynham is a gear obsessive who's been collecting and building modern and vintage equipment since he got his first Saturday job. Besides reviewing countless pedals for Total Guitar, he's written guides on how to build your first pedal, how to build a tube amp from a kit, and briefly went viral when he released a glitch delay pedal, the Atom Smasher.