Hardware loopers

What hardware loopers do / have you use / used and what do you like / dislike about them?

I’m looking for a looper to use primarily with my ambient guitar setup, by kut also would be nice to use with a small eurorack system.

Currently have looked at the EHX 45000, TC Ditto X4, Pigtronix Infinity, Boomerang III… but I’m probably missing some and don’t necessarily know all the pros and cons.

I also have an Octatrack but it feels like using it for a looper is overkill, and the pickup machines are pretty buggy. Also then I’d need to create some custom MIDI foot controller for it (my FC-300 is already controlling my VG-99 in Sysex mode).

1 Like

The eventide timefactor is my favorite looping pedal. Movable start/end points and varispeed that can be locked to specific divisions (octaves, fifths, chromatic etc). My main ambient guitar setup that I used for years centered around a pair of timefactors. Super good.

4 Likes

You know you can use the Octatrack as a looper without using the pickup machines? It can be set up to record incoming audio on flex machines and then start playing back the audio after a pre-defined recording length. It can be pretty handy, too - I have mine set up so that I can begin sampling just by pushing the record button.

To be honest, I’m not sure why they put the pickup machines in there. :confused:

2 Likes

I thought about that, then I thought “I’m already using the Timefactor as my delay, so I should get something else.” Maybe I just need another Timefactor though…

I guess the only disadvantage is there’s no multitrack or undo

Yeah I’m aware of that and I’ve used Flex machines pretty extensively for looping modular stuff. It’s nice because I can make drones rhythmic by putting down trigs etc. But I digress… the problem is I don’t think the UI is well suited to use with a guitar…

1 Like

maybe check out Boomerang III loop pedals

1 Like

I’m getting used to my 4ms Dual Looping Delay as my main looper. Enjoying it. No pitch adjustment though.

3 Likes

Timefactor is my favorite too. For me, it’s the sound quality as well as feel as well as a number of the features Marcus mentions.

1 Like

I bought one of these but I read the manual (or maybe 10% of it) yesterday and I’m a little overwhelmed. I bought it to use primarily as a looper, but it seems too complicated to be simple to use… am I wrong?

Answering the first post - I still have an Oberheim Echoplex and I still haven’t found anything I like better for real time looping, but syncing is a pain.

1 Like

I’ve used both the Infinity and the Boomerang III. The Boomerang has more easily accessed options and is (to my mind) a little more ‘user friendly’, but I prefer the sound of the Infinity, and ended up keeping it. (And the Inifinity’s not hard to use or anything, I just think the Boomerang is easier).

Some people like the Boomerang’s footswitches more; they are not the usual ‘stompbox’ switches and require a lighter touch, which would probably be better if you’re going to use your hands with it at some point.

2 Likes

My very quick review of loopers I’ve used for guitar.

Akai Headrush E2 - Short loop times, real cool non loop mode that does multi head tape out, two switches, kinda noisy.

Line 6 DL4 - Short loop times, very cool loop manipulation, 1/2 speed, high speed. One shot for playing with a beat. Mine has been good, but apparently very flimsy.

TC Electronic Ditto - Long loop times, single switch, really good for practicing not so much a performance looper.

I have my eyes set on the Boomerang mostly because the most fun I had looping was with the DL4, and the boomerang seems to be that and more, however I will never get rid of the Ditto. It’s to useful and the footprint is perfect. These can get pretty cheap on the used market.

Check out this setup built around Boomerang III:

Excellent Facebook group:

1 Like

@marcus_fischer I’ll have to play with the Timefactor as a looper this weekend… I can always use the onboard delay of the VG-99, though it doesn’t sound quite as nice.

Using a boomerang for years now - love it to bits, it’s so incredibly well-designed & thought out I don’t resent them their jealously guarded source code. (besides IIRC sysex firmware updates are somewhat precarious, with potential to brick the pedal - no desire to hack on it). The only problem with it is syncing to other gear. Still kind gradually working through those issues with the device:

  • I figured out how to read/write it’s brosync protocol from my lisp sequencer. Non-standard sysex thing, happy to share, PM me… sync can drift noticeably using this, possibly need to figure out whether/what timebase the boomerang snaps loop-lengths. Possibly just need to deploy the brosync->clock multiplier to a teensy or similar in order to get accurate enough timing!
  • I also find midi-slave sync drifting sometimes (i.e boomerang slaves to incoming midi clock) in current setup, despite the fact I thought this was fixed in most recent firmware update. Might be because I’m not transmitting the start/stop clock messages to boomerang in current software, just the ticks. Watch this space…

One of the killer features there is ‘serial sync’ mode - kind of allows you to record a short boom-chuck thing/clave pattern or whatever on ‘master’ loop. Then the three remaining loops become serial ‘song sections’, which you can cue up while playing - recording those sections snaps to the master loop. It’s great for more structured setpiece or song-structure playing.

And yea, the buttons are the best designed foot buttons for looping! you can be incredibly accurate with foot taps compared to plunger-type buttons available for easy diy or the massive clunky things on the Boss offerings…

I’ve found it ok. It doesn’t have a start/stop function so you just have to start playing… definitely easier to learn by messing around with.

I use an octatrack(pickup and flex). Never found either to be buggy. I just setup and save a looping template. I currently use a disaster area DMC midi pedal with my own custom firmware, but I’ve used the logidy pedal with perfect results.

hmm reminiscing how many features on the boomerang & the great freedom of that device, thinking again about ditching the sequencing part of my setup (and associated drumbox) and concentrate how to create a flexible hybrid analogue/DSP mini-hand-percussion kit that you actually hit to generate vibration, rather than half-baked guitarist fingerdrumming on FSRs. Possibly just contact mics on wooden salad bowls or whatever else a charity shop trawl throws up.

Could have a small-pedal-factor brosync sync unit clocking the aleph via i2c or CV-inputs - it’d all be a bit less computer-ey and a bit more modular. also pedalboard the whole rig, just kneel to plonk away on percussion objects & ditch the keyboard stand. With recent improvements to BEES UI it’s starting to feel a lot more like home in there…

4 Likes

See, this is why I’m excited for when I’m able to get an aleph.

1 Like

I think the Octatrack pickups not buggy in the literal sense, they are just very, very limited. Once you know & accept their limitations, I found them to be quite reliable.

And once you get on terms with them, the OT lets you do realtime sample-based improvisation on your loops like no other stand-alone hardware looper device. Like having a Flex machine tear up the loop you just recorded…

As you already do have an OT, you know what the OT can do and are familiar with the interface concept, so one alternative to buying an additional looper is to buy a separate MIDI foot controller just for it.

BTW: I still believe that the OT’s Flex machines can not replace the Pickups, as only the pickups
(a) allow recordings can be longer than 64 steps
(b) let you set an arbitrary length of the initial recording with one button press
© loop automatically after initial recording (either going into overdub or play)
simultaneously.

1 Like