• Pros: Great reverb sounds and the onboard tap-tempo is very useful.
• Cons: For the price and with 12 modes, I expected a lot more from this pedal.
• Overall: It’s mostly a pass. You could get the same sounds and a lot more with a reverb pedal and a decent digital delay. It doesn’t do nearly enough for the price.
I’m a frequent user of the Boss RC-20XL loop pedal. It does a lot of cool stuff in a relatively compact package. The RE-20 Space Echo is a strikingly similar design so when I fired it up to test it out, I was expecting a universe of possibilities. I mean, how cool does “Space Echo” sound? It was pretty disappointing.
The best part was the onboard tap-tempo. So many delay pedals require an external expression pedal to get the tap-tempo feature, but the RE-20 has a dedicated pedal for just that purpose. However, out of the 12 settings on the central mode selector knob, 7 actually require you to tap in a tempo before you get any echo. They are basically just reverb settings and what’s worse, those 7 settings sound almost identical. It made me think I was doing something wrong so I started fiddling with the other knobs–bass, treble, reverb volume, repeat rate, intensity, and echo volume. The only one that seemed to make a difference was the intensity knob, but if you crank that up, it just turns into an endless crescendo and wash of noise. I think I actually freaked out the guitar shop employees in the vicinity whose entire day is spent endlessly listening to musicians experiment badly.
As a reverb pedal, it would be pretty great. The two EQ adjustor knobs allow you to custom-make your reverb sounds and shapes and the reverb volume allows you to adjust the wetness/dryness of your effect sound. But eight out of 12 of the settings on this pedal are reverb and they are all subject to the whim of the control knobs. It’s just a bit superfluous. You could get all of this stuff in a standard reverb pedal for quite a bit less.
The other four modes (1-4 and labeled repeat) are honest echo sounds–and they are spacey! If I were to ever come across this pedal at a garage sale for less than $3, I’m pretty sure the selector knob would never leave settings 1-4. It’s reverbed-out, trippy, psychedelic echo at its best–and with the option of a quick-access tempo setting. I could see some indy rocker having this thing on for the whole show.
The biggest letdown is that I have to write such an inglorious review about a Boss pedal, which has built a well-deserved reputation for making many other great effects pedals. In fact, I seem to have an ever expanding collection of Boss pedals. I guess it goes to show you, you can’t win ‘em all.