Weak feedback on Roland Space Echo RE-201 tape delay

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touched1
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Weak feedback on Roland Space Echo RE-201 tape delay

Post by touched1 » Sat Oct 31, 2009 4:19 pm

So I scored a mint, and I mean MINT Roland RE-201 tape delay. It functions really great, except the feedback/intensity is weak for my taste. Not nearly as strong as my other RE-201.

Considering that I killed my other RE-201 trying to fix it, I am hesitant to tamper, but I did try increasing the tension on the metal arm with felt padding that guides the tape to the heads, I think it's called the "leaf spring". When the leaf spring arm is pressed harder against the bearing, the intensity/feedback increases dramatically..

I read a post on Gearslutz where someone just bent the arm, and that did the trick. This unit is in such perfect shape otherwise and I am hesitant to bend the leaf spring. But what harm could it really do? Should I just bend the damn thing and get the sound I want? Or should I ship it to someone who specializes in Space Echo repair?

I am guessing I should just bend the damn thing.

Also, any advice on general maintenance that I should do on an almost 40 year old machine that is barely used would be appreciated. The tape loop is OK. I might open it and clean the pots, but I would prefer someone go through it properly.

Thanks in advance.

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Dakota
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Post by Dakota » Sun Nov 01, 2009 1:52 am

Weak feedback may also be the tape used for the loop, fyi.

Do you know if it is orig. roland or 3rd party?

Clean the heads and rollers (with correct fluids of each type) first in any case...

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Post by touched1 » Sun Nov 01, 2009 10:40 am

Thanks for the response Dakota.
I've heard that it can be the loop, but does it tell us anything that if I increase tension on the leaf spring manually, the intensity of the feedback increases? This made me think "misaligned leaf spring" not old tape or dirty heads.

It's certainly worth a shot though.

I suspect that the loop is factory. It came with 2 extra loops marked RT-1L with a silver sticker and the Roland logo. It also has a cleaning kit secured under the lid. (Did I mention how mint this thing was?). I have a few after market loops that I need to retrieve from a friend, so I can try those as well.

Would there be any danger in using the potentially near 40 year old alcohol that came with the machine? Should I use drugstore Isopropyl, I've heard that's a bad idea. I can run to GC today to pick up some better cleaning products if necessary.

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Post by touched1 » Sat Nov 07, 2009 1:15 pm

Cleaning the heads made no difference. I will try another loop this weekend.

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Post by rjd2 » Sat Nov 07, 2009 2:33 pm

on the 101, there's calibration pots internally for feedback and echo volume. thats my guess. they are labelled as such on the pcb.

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Post by touched1 » Fri Nov 27, 2009 6:35 pm

Yeah, I don't know if this is a calibration thing. Maybe it is, I really don't want to open this up and poke around if I don't have to... Again, if I increase tension on the leaf spring, it behaves the way I want it to. Self-oscillation to the point of distortion...

To bend the leaf spring, or not bend the leaf spring...

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Post by emrr » Sun Nov 29, 2009 9:18 pm

it's way f&%in easier to open the damn thing up and turn the adjust trimmer than it is to cro-magnon the physical tension.
Doug Williams
ElectroMagnetic Radiation Recorders
Tape Op issue 73

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Post by touched1 » Mon Nov 30, 2009 9:29 pm

Are you speaking with experience tweaking Space Echos Doug?

No one is talking about going Cro Mag on the leaf spring. And I disagree about which is more involved.

While the RE-201 is not the biggest pain to crack and navigate internally, with a flick of the wrist using a Leatherman I am getting the intensity I want. It's not holding though. If I stop and start it too many times, I have to tweak the leaf spring again. it seems to be OK right now...

I should poke around and see if there are Youtube examples of how this thing "should" behave with the intensity cranked vs how I want or expect it to behave. The sound I am after may actually have nothing to today with a well tuned Space Echo.

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Post by touched1 » Mon Nov 30, 2009 9:37 pm

Just checked your site Doug, I see that you are also the proud owner of 2 RE-201s. Have you personally seen the problem I am having corrected by adjusting the internal feedback pot? Some experienced perspective would be appreciated.

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Post by emrr » Tue Dec 01, 2009 6:35 am

Yes, I've tweaked two of them to react the same, and set the point on the knob for infinite feedback to match. The manual can be had as a download, I think someone here has a link. You take the screws out of the case, lift the chassis out, and tweak while it's running. 5-10 minutes max. It's way harder if you over-bend irreplaceable mechanical parts, and make a dead machine.
Doug Williams
ElectroMagnetic Radiation Recorders
Tape Op issue 73

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Post by touched1 » Tue Dec 01, 2009 7:54 am

Thanks Doug. I appreciate the first hand experience. Hard to tell when someone is speculating about what they think will fix something or if they actually know what the hell they are talking about.

I've got the service manual, thanks,
My backup plan, which adds to my fearlessness about bending the leaf spring, is to send the unit to Orbit Electronix to get it tuned up. I have another RE-201 unit that I personally effed up by poking around inside. Maybe it was already on the edge of dying. I don't know. But now I am gun-shy about poking around in there. A leaf spring/tension arm will be much easier to replace than internal components.

When I get my other 201 back from the tech who is not fixing it, it gets sent off to Orbit to be overhauled, If that goes well, this unit will follow. My goal is the same as yours, two units that behave more or less the same way. Not sure how attainable that is... But it's a nice idea.

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Post by emrr » Tue Dec 01, 2009 9:12 am

Mine don't really sound the same, even though I have the controls more or less responding identically. Head wear differences? Bias? Tape? Can't say what the difference is sonically.
Doug Williams
ElectroMagnetic Radiation Recorders
Tape Op issue 73

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