Korg SE-300 vs. Watkins Copicat (solid state)

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Korg SE-300 vs. Watkins Copicat (solid state)

Postby Sir Ruff » Wed Oct 29, 2008 8:23 pm

Someone is selling a Korg SE-500 locally (for 600)... Seems like a lot, but I'm not real familiar with prices for these... The RE-201 doesn't seem to go for much more. I've always wanted a tape delay, but am unsure if I'm commited enough to drop such coinage on one effect... however, cheaper more modern units aren't a whole lot cheaper (like the hiwatt, which appears to only be one head).

Do I have any bargaining room here, and is it worth the investment? (i take it these are pretty reliable)... I already have a couple analog delays that I'm pretty happy with, so I'm wondering if there's much to gain from pure tape.
Last edited by Sir Ruff on Mon Nov 03, 2008 5:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Korg SE-500 tape delay: worth the cash??

Postby Alex Hamilton » Thu Oct 30, 2008 12:55 am

As far as I'm aware, the answer is YES YES YES YES YES. Take it. :lol:

Sir Ruff wrote:is it worth the investment? (i take it these are pretty reliable)... I already have a couple analog delays that I'm pretty happy with, so I'm wondering if there's much to gain from pure tape.


For one thing, tape sounds very different from analogue. For another, I take it you have more than one analogue delay because they sound different from each other, right? So why would a tape echo not add something new?

$600 isn't so unreal for a tape echo, certainly not over here in the UK. I'd say that's about the going rate for a Space Echo 301 etc. Copicats are cheaper here, but rare in the US.

I can't imagine a scenario in which a tape echo fails to add anything to your setup. If you feel it wasn't worth the money having bought it, it should be easy to sell on. These things only go up in price.
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Re: Korg SE-500 tape delay: worth the cash??

Postby Stab Frenzy » Thu Oct 30, 2008 1:26 am

The Stage Echo is a really nice unit, I'd personally rather have one of those than an RE-201. If it's in really good condition get it.

However, buying a Timefactor has killed all desire for a real tape echo for me. Sounds incredible and you can dial in exactly how much hiss, wow, flutter and top roll-off you want. It also has 2 delays, tap tempo, is cheaper, doesn't need to be serviced and is gigable. It's also got 8 other delay types and a looper. The only things the Korg has over it is the three taps and the mojo of having something big and old sitting in your studio. For me, no contest.
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Re: Korg SE-500 tape delay: worth the cash??

Postby Sir Ruff » Thu Oct 30, 2008 9:45 pm

thanks for suggestions... So one vote for yes, one for no.. It's true, if I already have different delays, then a tape delay would certainly add more variety...
but there are all the other issues with such hardware... Stab, you say get it if it's in good condition (which it is), but then your timefactor does a similar job, so.. I'm not in dire need of another funky black box in my setup, so it seems like I could probably live without it... (kicks logic in head for preventing another purchase!)...

my favorite thing about tape is the muddiness that develops over time-prevalent in so much dub (my one old digital delay does this well, but I'm sure it would sound different/blurrier on the real tape, or something trying to emulate it).

the hi-cut sound that you hear in dub echoes-is that due to them EQ-ing the delay output by hand (cutting bass), or is this a natural artifact of tape delay if feedback is high?

What is the best alternative to an expensive tape delay? either cheaper tape delays, or something that emulates it, like the new roland RE-whatever it is?
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Re: Korg SE-500 tape delay: worth the cash??

Postby Stab Frenzy » Fri Oct 31, 2008 12:37 am

Sir Ruff wrote:the hi-cut sound that you hear in dub echoes-is that due to them EQ-ing the delay output by hand (cutting bass), or is this a natural artifact of tape delay if feedback is high?

That's a low cut, not a high cut. You get it by running the delayed signal (0% feeedback) back into another channel, EQing the bottoms out and the high-mids up and sending it back to the delay. Tape delay naturally cuts the highs, so if you just turn up the feedback you get lots of lows and low mids.

Sir Ruff wrote:What is the best alternative to an expensive tape delay? either cheaper tape delays, or something that emulates it, like the new roland RE-whatever it is?

I haven't ever seen a cheap tape delay, there's the hiwatt which I've heard mixed reports about and then there's the fulltone, but it's stereo and valve, and priced accordingly. Then there's the second-hand market, but there's not many bargains to be found there.

I had the RE-20 until two days ago. The Timefactor sounds more like a real tape than it does cause you can turn up the wow and flutter til everything gets all wonky. Love it!
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Re: Korg SE-500 tape delay: worth the cash??

Postby Alex Hamilton » Fri Oct 31, 2008 12:50 am

Sir Ruff wrote:What is the best alternative to an expensive tape delay? either cheaper tape delays, or something that emulates it, like the new roland RE-whatever it is?


I bought my Copicat for £90 (about $180 now), but they aren't common Stateside. I can't really recommend you anything as I don't know what prices are like in the US. The price I paid for the real thing is cheaper than most emulators!

I've heard demos etc. of the RE-20, Eventide, TC etc. emulators, and I always think they sound really very good - like tape, with a natural decay, not to mention the advantages that Stab mentions. But that's listening to them in a recording - the difference is like listening to a recording of a musical instrument, versus listening to the instrument itself, you know? It's not that one is bad versus good, or even that other people can or can't tell the difference - it's about what you feel comfortable working with. And it's always nice to have one or two pieces of old-fashioned technology lying around.

Sir Ruff wrote:my favorite thing about tape is the muddiness that develops over time-prevalent in so much dub (my one old digital delay does this well, but I'm sure it would sound different/blurrier on the real tape, or something trying to emulate it).


Sure, but the thing with tape echo is, it's not exactly muddiness, as the sound is still clear - it's more of a general change in timbre, from being defined to being diffuse. It becomes homogeneous, while still maintaining detail.

These things are difficult to put into words!
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Re: Korg SE-500 tape delay: worth the cash??

Postby OriginalJambo » Fri Oct 31, 2008 1:00 am

Alex Hamilton wrote:I bought my Copicat for £90 (about $180 now), but they aren't common Stateside. I can't really recommend you anything as I don't know what prices are like in the US. The price I paid for the real thing is cheaper than most emulators!


Yup - it's one of the few gear benefits of living in the UK.

Sure, but the thing with tape echo is, it's not exactly muddiness, as the sound is still clear - it's more of a general change in timbre, from being defined to being diffuse. It becomes homogeneous, while still maintaining detail.


And since the pitch of each echo is sightly different you often get a pleasant phasing too.
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Re: Korg SE-500 tape delay: worth the cash??

Postby Sir Ruff » Fri Oct 31, 2008 4:21 am

Stab Frenzy wrote:
Sir Ruff wrote:the hi-cut sound that you hear in dub echoes-is that due to them EQ-ing the delay output by hand (cutting bass), or is this a natural artifact of tape delay if feedback is high?

That's a low cut, not a high cut. You get it by running the delayed signal (0% feeedback) back into another channel, EQing the bottoms out and the high-mids up and sending it back to the delay. Tape delay naturally cuts the highs, so if you just turn up the feedback you get lots of lows and low mids.


hmmm.. ok.. I have done this traditionally by sending delay straight to desk and cutting the bass by hand...

EDIT: just done what you suggested... oh my god... incredible! SF, you are officially my favorite VSEr as of today... that has always been my favorite sound ever, but it sounded too "automated" for someone to just be sitting there cutting the eq all the time. And now I can do it pro'er!

I don't quite understand the dynamic... why the feedback loop increases the hi freq content and cuts the bass... my electra 12-bit delay, despite being digital, actually does a really nice analog-esque hi-end roll-off, and really blurs the sound with long feedback... this technique makes me not even want another dela! Saying that tho, the artifacts become somewhat grainy over a long feedback loop... I realise only tape would get that perfect kind of dub saturation.

Alex Hamilton wrote:Sure, but the thing with tape echo is, it's not exactly muddiness, as the sound is still clear - it's more of a general change in timbre, from being defined to being diffuse. It becomes homogeneous, while still maintaining detail.

These things are difficult to put into words!


No, I know what you mean... you say tomtao, etc.. but it does lose definition, and gets blurred, muddy over time... however you call it I really like that sound.

I just wish my damn electra wasn't so noisey... I have a DOD 585 BBD pedal that is really gritty.. will have to try this low-cut effect with it too.
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Re: Korg SE-500 tape delay: worth the cash??

Postby Stab Frenzy » Sat Nov 01, 2008 7:23 am

Sir Ruff wrote:EDIT: just done what you suggested... oh my god... incredible! SF, you are officially my favorite VSEr as of today... that has always been my favorite sound ever, but it sounded too "automated" for someone to just be sitting there cutting the eq all the time. And now I can do it pro'er!

Awesome! You can use that trick for a whole lot of different effects, it's like having the loop out on the Moog delay but cheaper. I kind of found it by accident a while ago when I was trying to get more feedback on a delay that wouldn't freak out quick enough. It's a cool trick.
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Re: Korg SE-500 tape delay: worth the cash??

Postby RobotHeroes » Sat Nov 01, 2008 7:48 am

If you can haggle try to get them down to $500 or $550. What's the worse they can say? No? $600 sound ok if it's in real good shape. I have an RE-201 and wouldn't mind owning a Stage Echo. I hear it has a different sound and a really good one at that.

Do it if you are into it and want to experiment. If you end up feeling like something else or new fits the bill, or what you already have makes having it overkill, you could sell it to me later on when I have the money. :wink:

Like I said up top there is nothing wrong with making an offer as long as it's close to their asking price. They are either firm or priced it to get the most or prepared for lower offers that would end up in their acceptable target zone. Hopefully it's in top shape though which I think it is if that's what they are asking.

Edit: I just watched a demo of the timefactor and it's a nice pedal. The Empress Superdelay also looks interesting.
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Re: Korg SE-500 tape delay: worth the cash??

Postby Sir Ruff » Mon Nov 03, 2008 3:19 am

thanks RH, you're actually pushing me back into the fray! ha...

Q: how easy is it to replace the tape loop on these? I found a UK site offering stage echo specific loops for like $20 shipped. I don't know how much normal tape would cost to by and then splice myself, but that seems reasonable given its from a site that specifically makes seemingly good quality tape loops!
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Re: Korg SE-500 tape delay: worth the cash??

Postby RobotHeroes » Mon Nov 03, 2008 3:43 am

As easy as putting in a new tape loop. I only have an RE-201 but looking at the pictures of the Korg it looks about the same. You just remove the clear plastic cover and follow the route across the heads. There is probably something to hold the tape, with felt on it, as it exits the chamber and as it goes back in. You just have to make sure you don't put it on backwards. After that you put it at the slowest setting and let it run making sure it doesn't get caught and creased up somewhere. After that you just let it run for a while so that it gets used to the path.

You could always make loops out of 8-tracks if you want to experiment. Just buy a splicing block and some splicing tape. I have some 8-tracks but haven't gotten a block or tape off ebay yet. You can probably find a whole reel and make your own you just have to figure out what type(I think people online mention which ones work and sound best). When my tape wore out, it came with it and had a small crease, I just bought one off the guy from eBay, the seller from Canada. I will try out the 8-track and making my own though.

I just saw a picture of the stage echo again. Damn doo want. I like how you can activate whatever heads you want and I had forgotten about the sound on sound option. It is definitely on my want list. I bet a stage echo teamed up with that vermona retroverb would be so ace.
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Re: Korg SE-500 tape delay: worth the cash??

Postby Sir Ruff » Mon Nov 03, 2008 4:12 am

yeah, tape replacement seems easy. I guess I'm just wary of the whole mechanical/potential to fail issue (tho these seem better than most in that respect). motors would be hard to replace I would imagine. also I guess it depends on how much use it originally had... can anyone boost my confidence in this regard? :?:
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Re: Korg SE-500 tape delay: worth the cash??

Postby RobotHeroes » Mon Nov 03, 2008 6:31 am

Btw here is the owners manual, along with other manuals as well.

Analog hell pdf downloads

The motor thing can be scary I suppose. Roland discontinued the one for the space echo a few years back. If I had mine back then I would've bought a motor just to have it in case. I know the motor in them are vacuum sealed so I hope that means they were made to last if well taken care of.

As for Korg SE's I know they use a dc direct-drive servo motor. A tech would have to tell you if the right ones are available, maybe one of the resident tech's could answer that. Would be great if it turns out to be a part you can easily get.
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Re: Korg SE-500 tape delay: worth the cash??

Postby Sir Ruff » Mon Nov 03, 2008 7:15 am

man.. I'm torn now between an old WEM copycat or a SE-300, both same price.. only benefit of the korg seems to be longer delay times and reverb , but the cat seems to be a little wilder which is cool.. I suppose the korg would be more reliable, if a little cleaner... blast. where will my $$$ go?! :?
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