Tuesday, September 1, 2015
(Many) Loopers Have Issues
I've become somewhat of a looper freak. It turns out the building up complex track with your modular, using a looper as the 'multiplying device', is both a useful and fun way to create a track. Over the past few years, I've tried a bunch of different loopers, and now I've got a bone to pick
Most commercial loopers that I've used (or tried) have a fundamental problem for me: they will only loop in time. You create a 'master track', then every other loop that you record has to be some even-numbered multiple of that track length. This is great if you are trying to be Reggie Watts and making a tight beat. But what if you are doing a sloppy ambient piece, with drones sliding in and out to create a never-ending harmonic swill? Can't do it.
I've gotten to the point of poring over user manuals before buying a looper so I don't get stuck with this problem. You see, I want to be able to choose whether or not loops are synchronized, and use the differing modes for different composing processes.
So far, the biggest 'losers' are all Electro Harmonix loopers. I love the layout of these loopers, with their front panel mixers, easy bouncing functions and great sound. But there is no way to de-sync. The looper (i.e., Pickup Engine) in the Octatrack is similarly hamstrung, requiring all loops to slave to a master loop's length.
Sorta-winners include the Boomerang looper pedal, which does have a de-linked mode, but is so non-visual as to be a complete head-fuque. Much better is the Boss RC-505 - a device I was using until recently. It has the most flexible looping engine I've ever worked with, but is combined with some of the worst internal effects I've ever heard in a Boss unit.
I'm currently experimenting further with the Octatrack; rather than using its Pickup Engine loopers, I'm trying to get comfortable with live sampling into the standard sampling engines and working with that. Not sure it'll work, but I'm trying.
Do you have a looper that you love? Does it do de-linked looping? If so, let me know your experiences - I'm all ears!!!