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Reviews Looper

TC Electronic Ditto X2 Review

The Return of the Same Thing Following up on the success of the original Ditto, which had only two controls, TC strikes again with the X2, featuring more than twice that. Can it give the final blow to its competitors in the not-too-expensive loopers market? read more…

Boss Loop Station RC505 Review

Looper Trooper While guitar players might have been disappointed by Musikmesse 2013, keyboard players, sound designers and home-studio owners were delighted by numerous new products. read more…

TC Electronic Ditto Pro Review

Did You Say Ditto.... Ditto..... Ditto ? For a while now, TC Electronic has been delving into its first love by bringing us new guitar pedals at a frenetic pace. Along the lines of the Toneprint series, comes a small (very small) loop effect. The keywords here are: simplicity and effectiveness. read more…

User reviews on Looper products

His Excellency Ditto II (TC Electronic - Ditto X2)

By wesmontgo, 12/11/2015
See the detailed specs on TC Electronic's website.


USE

Since this is the first review on a device of a new genre, I will be as precise, especially as the user manuel (to be downloaded from TC's website) is not as clear as it seems - just like the device itself by the way.

The compact user manual is a pdf file with a better layout than this very paragraph: I have edited it as a personal memo, provided you undesrstand French I willingly share it with you at the following address : http://1drv.ms/1BuAMux

Basic features

It is a bit subtle at first, but it soon becomes automatic after tapdancing with it for some time. Starting from scratch, both LEDs off:
- activate once the left ( "Loop" ) footswitch to start recording a first loop (-- red LED on)
- activate a 2nd time to end the loop that keeps being played (-- green LED on, blinking when the loop ends)
- activate it a 3rd time to record an overdub on the previous loop (-- red LED on)
- do it a 4th time to end the recording of the overdub (-- green LED on, blinking when the loop ends)
- following pairs of activations of the footswitch behave as 3rd and 4th time for additional overdubs

To stop the sound, with the right selector on "Stop":
- activate once the right ( "FX" ) footswitch (-- left green LED blinking, signaling a sound is ready to play), or activate twice the "Loop" footswitch (but it is less precise and lets unwanted sound be heard in between - a flaw already present in the first Ditto).

To start the sound again:
- activate the "Loop" (left) footswitch (-- green LED on, blinking when the loop ends)
- 2nd, 3rd (etc) activations act rhe same for overdubs

To erase the last overdub ( "Undo" process):
- while the loop is playing, press a long time the left switch to "undo" (-- the green LED blinks for half a second), and the loop keeps looping without the last overdub (-- green LED on, blinking when the loop ends).

To restore the last overdub ( "Redo" ):
- same as fo "undo", long press while the loop is playing (a short press will record a new overdub).

This Undo/Redo feature is useful and convenient. Please note that the original loop remains the basis, unmodified in length, though you can overdub and punch in/ou at any moment of the said loop.

There are three ways to erase the whole loop and its overdubs:
- a long press on the FX (right) footswitch (whether the loop is playing or not)
- a short press followed by a long on on the "Loop" (left) footswitch (the same as in the first Ditto)
- a long press on the "Store" switch, which also erases the backing track recorded in the "B" memory slot (read below).

Ditto 2 contains two memory slots, read simultaneously:
- slot A ( "Loop" ) is where the live loops are being recorded
- slot B ( "Backing track" ) is where the files that transit to and fro the Ditto and a computer are stocked. The files (all named "Track" ) can be wave, aif or mp3 files from the computer or wave or aif coming transferred from the "Loop" slot.

Ditto's memory keeps both the contents of the A and B memory slots when unplugged.

The "Backing track" feature
To save in slot B a loop recorded in A (hence saving the latter):
- short press the "store" handswitch (-- the left green LED blinks quickly for half a second). This erases any content already stored in "B".
Ditto then plays simultaneously the "A" loop and the last file stored in "B" (the sound level of A can be changed at anytime using the loop level knob, that of B requiring to use the level knob + handswitch on "level").
A only contains the loops recorded as described earlier for the basic "loop" features, in parallel to the backing track which is the constant reference which will be played again and again.
The "backing track" stored in B is not affected by the "Loop" or "FX" footswitches, and can only be erased by a long press on "store".

The handswitches are located on the left and right sides of the knob:
- a short press on the left switchstores the loop in B, a long press on it erases everything (as was already described).
- the right switch switched up or in the middle position makes the "FX" (right) footswitch control the half-speed (green LED on) or reverse (red LED on) features. Pushed down, the same right handswitch makes the same footswitch control looping.

Effects
When the FX handswitch is used to select either of the two effects, activating the "FX" footswitch starts or stops the same effect, no matter whether the loop in playing, being recorded or stopped. Overdub can be done forward, backward, at half or double speed, and the LED blinks alternately in green and red (a real Christmas tree) with both effects on.
No limit!

Stereo
Everything is doubled, including the two memory banks, so we have 2 devices with a single recording and playing command.
If the guitar is plugged in the "mono" in with nothing in the "stereo" in, the mono signal entering is identically duplicated to both outs, including in "bypass" mode.
Any instrument plugged solely to the "stereo" in is only routed to the "stereo" out
Plugging two different, mono instruments on each of the "in"s leaves them independent, each will have its own dedicated out even in "bypass" mode.

A stereo backing track stored in the "B" memory slot comes out translated in mono if only one out is being used.
Combinations are almost endless...

Quality and conception
- the footswitches are soft and look sturdy. They're very sensitive as contact is done after only 2mm, with no hardpoint, allowing for an esceptionnal precision, no need to stomp violently. Beware not to wear too large a shoe so as not to risk switchinh both unwillingly.
- as usual with non-slanted pedals, activating the footswitches requires to lift the whole leg, which (for a guitar player) can soon become exhausting. A little DIY can help here to make things more comfortable and also to make the LEDs more visible and the knob easier to reach. The wedge I use can be seen here https://flic.kr/s/aHsjXnEY6f , and another (more elaborate) version for an Xotics RC Booster here : https://flic.kr/s/aHsjPdJw2c .

- the handswitches are small and compact. The left one (3-position, spring-return) is a bit hard. They are fixed straight to the electronic circuit, not on the external case - a benign exception to the general high building quality of the whole.
- the level knob is great: huge in size, shaped for fingers, the white mark on it can be seen from 6ft above. Too bad there is no mark on the box itself, though - no, I'm just splitting hair.
- connectors aregathered on the upper side of the box, which is a great choice which avoids cables to take too much space on both sides - a problem too often encountered.
- the box is made of sturdy molded aluminium, the paint reminds of that of a luxury car. The good taste of the discrete, metallic, dark grey box color is not to be discussed - we don't care btw, only sound colors are relevant.

SOUND QUALITY

Review conditions

Test 1 in mono: Solid body -- effects -- tube amp -- Ditto in FX loop

It seems quite logical to use the Ditto in the amp's effect loop, at the very end of it, so that the initially recorded loop's sound remain unmodified by any other factor (effects, hi or lo gain amp in, amp settings...) that will still be useful to shape the overdubs. In case you don't have an FX loop, the best is to use the Ditto last in the chain, just before the amp's input.

Test 2 in mono : Hollow body -- Ditto -- Acoustic guitar amp

Test 3 in stéréo : Solid body -- stereo effects -- Ditto -- mixer -- studio amp
Ditto respects the stereo loop, which is a good point.

The result

Both the true bypassed signal and recorded part sound transparent, no color or spectrum, no gain in highs or lows.
No difference can be heard on a studio stereo amp (the loop is also recorded on the second channel, which couls have been thought of as a mere bypass).
No much more to say here, the signal is perfectly respected.
I even unwillingly tried the true bypass in reverse order after inverting the in and out jacks by mistake, it works just the same in both directions!

A real pleasure to be able to add counterpoint high and low funky riffs on a series of bossa nova rhythm changes, for instance. Of course the mix shouldn't be overloaded, but this device can be used to record a whole musical piece.

OVERALL

What makes His Excellenct Ditto II better than the first is the ability to stop a loop by pushing the second switch only once, and the possibility to erase it by a long press on the very same switch, hence suppressing the short, audible transition (a real liability in live situation).

The possibility to use batteries instead of an adapter is also a good thing for those reluctant to adapters, but I haven't tested how long batteries last.

The "Backing track" and the possibility to import external files can be useful depending on the user's need, but it can't compete with pro backing tracks played on a CD or MP3 player or a guitar trainer such a s Tascam's GTR1 (which includes an efficient loop feature), which allow instant play of any music track of your choice.
Indeed, the way to transfer files through a computer is not very quick, and Ditto can only keep one track at a time. For mere backing track, one had better export their best Ditto-recorded tracks to their computer so as to be able to play them back later through a more versatile and convenient device.

The half speed feature can be used to provide violin-like or fast sounds, but prove less useful than a customizable speed rate which would allow analyzing a fast part.

The reverse feature is not something I use much, except for goofing with friends once in a while. A basic reverb or metronome would have been more useful to me, but that is not so important and it's just a question of taste.

The secondary features can be of interest for some, but as far as I'm concerned I essentially bought the Ditto for a basic use as a looper with a mono guitar signal. I use it in rock and jazz styles to work alone as well as in a band for some phases and analyzing some parts which are hard to set efficiently in rehearsal.

In a nutshell, I consider this device to have been cleverly conceived with high quality materials for a high-quality sound in the end. What more could we ask for?
»

Made for instant playing (TC Electronic - Ditto X4)

By Al x, 25/03/2016
I tried it in a mixed setup : with a Flashback X4 and its looper followed by a Vox VDL 1 Looper then into Ditto.

The pros :

- Couldn't be more intuitive. You choose from either serial of parallel mode, start playing and you're not even 2 minutes away from new musical ideas. All can be setup in real-time using the front knobs - perfect for people like me who can't stand menus/submenus and so on.

- the "smart" serial mode which only start loop 2 when loop 1 is over. I didn't have this option on my Vox VDL1, making it impossible to switch naturally from a verse to the chorus. With the Ditto, you just play without having to keep focused on your feet. Now, I use both chained so as to benefit from each of them's proper features.

- It looks goog (yes, it does count for me)
- Features MIDI (for possible expansions)
- 24-bit sound
- Included effects - plus they're easy to reach.
- Loop length

The cons :

- No mic in (perhaps a next version with 3 loops? that would be the perfect looper)

- Impossible to save more than a single loop or wav file, so unsuitable for backings tracks

- Impossible to sync it with the other Ditto pedals that I own, so as to increase the number of loops (the Digitech Jam Man allows it: if the future Ditto models add that feature there'll be nothing left to complain about)


I long hesitated between the TC Helicon Voicelive 3, Stereo Jamman, Boss RC300 or Ditto, and finally opted for the Ditto. Here's why :

Voicelive : after watching the Youtube videos dealing with its looper feature, I decided all the manipulations that were necessary to enter and exit each mode definitely didn't suit my workflow. If I haven't been able to use a digital mulit-effect in a live situation for the past 25 years, there's no reason to expect me to manage to use a Voicelive in such a situation, especially with the stress of being on stage. The Voicelive certainly was made for a brain that doesn't get as easily saturated as mine.

Jam Man : Almost perfect - except for the fact you can't play several loops in the same time, plus each loop has to be saved before getting to the next one. Unusable outside of the studio.

Boss RC300 : Almost perfect for me - except for the MIDI sync problems often debated on forums and that still haven't been solved since the 10+ years-old RC 50. Plus, recording is 16-bit while others are in 24 (not that much of a problem to me though, especially for live).

I had recently bought a discounted VOX VDL1 but it didn't totally suit me as both loops don't automatically work in series while that was an important feature to me. I was about to sell it but adding it to the Ditto I now have a very interesting multiloop system (with effects).

This Ditto is a great purchase I made, it makes me smile the moment I start playing.
»

With BeatSense, you now can loop seamlessly with a live drummer (TC Electronic - Ditto JAM X2 Looper)

By MGR/Brian Johnston, 26/07/2018
SOUND:
With 24-bit (CD and studio quality) recording and playback, the Ditto JAM X2 Looper by TC Electronic is an ideal band-mate and solo practice device. The YouTube video below demonstrates some of the settings and capabilities.



The Ditto JAM X2 is the latest in the line of TC Electronic loopers that stores sound files (upward of 2 minutes) and as many dubs or layers/tracks as you wish. It reproduces whatever goes into it faithfully, and so ‘garbage-in-garbage-out’ or it can sound as clear and wonderful as a master CD. Obviously the more dubs the more ‘junky’ the output can sound unless mixing the tracks or dubs effectively. In that regard I do suggest keeping heavy rhythm parts (particularly if distorted) fairly free of delay or reverb (at least keep any delay/reverb light and barely audible) while mixing in clean non-distorted guitar parts or bass and then finally some lead parts (that can have a bit more delay or reverb). As well, if each guitar part recorded on the Ditto JAM looper has a slightly different EQ range or frequency, then each part will cut through better and not ‘blend’ so much (I did not do that in the demo video, but perhaps I should have).

OVERALL IMPRESSION:
The Ditto JAM X2 Looper has a maximum loop of 120-seconds, which typically is more than enough for some fairly long riffs and rhythm lines, although it may be considered short if you want to jam along with an entire song. However, you also are afforded unlimited dubs, which typically will not exceed 3-5 parts in any case as it would start to sound a bit congested unless playing and timing are superb and without too many effects, like reverb.
What is unique among loopers is Ditto JAM’s BeatSense Mode. It will listen for a rhythm (supplied by a drummer, metronome, etc.) and quantize or ‘fit’ a guitar player’s playing more effectively based on that rhythm. In other words, your riffs and rhythm may be off slightly, but when it is recorded in the Ditto JAM it will play back more accurately and in accordance to the supplied beat… even if your drummer speeds up or slows down slightly! This is great for bands using a looper live, but it’s also great for home use (I use a metronome, placed next to the Ditto JAM’s microphones).

With 24-bits buffered (it is true bypass when not recording), which is studio quality, the sound is exceptional. The ability to record in two ways (rec-dub-play vs. rec-play-dub) is useful if you need to add a dub or layer immediately after a rhythm section (ideal in live situations) vs. if you need to stop and take a few seconds pause before adding a dub (or if you’re not quite sure what the dub will be and need to practice a few lines).

EASE OF USE:
You can use the Ditto JAM in three ways, as well as two options with each of those. I’ll describe the options later. The first way in which to use the Ditto JAM is in Classic Mode (no LED light above the Stop switch), which means there is no rhythm or beat that the Ditto JAM searches for. You simply record something and then play/improvise over top… or you can add extra layers (dubs), etc. – very straight-forward. The second way in which to use the Ditto JAM is in Practice Mode (red LED light above the Stop switch), which allows you to add whatever recording and dubs you want, but it looks for a rhythm or groove supplied by your chops. In other words, it gets an idea of your rhythm and tries to quantize the riffs you’re laying down to make it more timely or regular. This is not something you have to think about – the Ditto JAM does it for you and you simply try to maintain a solid rhythm as best you can.

The third way in which to use the Ditto JAM is completely unique among loopers, and it’s called BeatSense. It uses built-in microphones (two of them) or an external microphone (on an 8-foot cable that you can attach to a snare or other drum equipment) to gather a rhythm or timing from that outside source. You even can use a metronome or tap your foot next to the Ditto JAM (although you need to make certain your cranked up amp isn’t closer to the microphones than the beat source). Now, this is cool for a few reasons. Obviously you can record a loop and play it back in time with varying human tempos and this information is quantized to the nearest beats for the best loop points (and loop playback is time compressed and expanded where necessary to stay in time). And because the tempo is guided by your drummer (or a drum machine, etc.), it makes it possible finally to use a looper effectively in live situations and without the need for finely-tuned monitoring systems.

Next, there are two ways in which to record, the first being ‘Rec-Dub-Play.’ In effect, once you press the Loop switch to begin recording, and once you stop that recording (by pressing the Loop button) that recorded part plays back while the ‘red’ record light remains… you then can record a second part. It’s only when you step on the Loop switch a third time that recording stops (although it continues to play and you need to step on the Stop switch to terminate playback). In other words, you get to record two things, one after the other, very seamlessly and immediately.

On the other hand, the ‘Rec-Play-Dub’ option records only once, and when you press the Loop switch a second time your recording plays back, but you cannot record again unless you press the Loop switch a third again. Likewise, pressing the Stop button stops recording and playback all together.

To erase the last dub or track recorded (e.g., dub #3), you simply press and hold the Loop switch. To erase the entire loop with all its dubs you press and hold the Stop switch.
It is not difficult to master any of the above, although you need to get into a rhythm with how you work with the Ditto JAM in order to coordinate the ‘Rec-Play-Dub’ vs. the ‘Rec-Dub-Play.’ There’s also an issue of timing, so that your loop beings, ends and then begins (loops) seamlessly, although TC Electronic included some very useful tips in its user manual… and for those familiar with loopers (particularly the Ditto X2) you know what I mean. If you’re new to loopers you may realize that your timing is not all it’s cracked up to be and it will take an hour or two of practice to become efficient at utilizing this tool to ‘punch in and punch out’ of recordings.

RELIABILITY & DURABILITY:
The Ditto JAM is true bypass pedal (although it is buffered when in ‘record’ mode) and slightly oversized compared to a standard pedal size; the framework is made of steel. All the connections are in the back, which saves on pedal board space, but also helps to protect the inputs and outputs. The Ditto JAM includes a USB port to download the latest firmware developments and an external microphone input, both of which are located in the back as well. The two foot switches (Loop and Stop) are ‘soft’ switches (no ‘click’ locking in or out) and nowhere near the other controls. The very large Loop Level control knob is big enough to navigate with a foot (so that you don’t have to bend down to control your output level), and is raised quite a bit higher than the only other control, which is a small toggle switch to choose between ‘Rec-Dub-Play’ and ‘Rec-Play-Dub.’ The Ditto JAM works on a standard 9V 150mA power supply or two 9V batteries, which makes it convenient for transporting and keeping jamming simple.
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[MUSIKMESSE][VIDEO] Future Artist MIDI Looper

Published on 04/08/16
Future Artist demonstrate the MIDI Looper at Musikmesse 2016.

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