A whole genre of music has evolved around looping devices. Players like Matt Stevens, Steve Lawson - heck Robert Fripp pioneered looping decades ago. And the gear you’re using really dictates just how free or constrained you will be within your musical explorations. TC Electronic’s Ditto series of loopers are among the best you’ll ever find, and they’ve now bumped it up to almost ridiculously adaptable proportions with the Ditto X4 Looper.
LOOP, THERE IT IS
The X4 builds on the same easy use and high audio quality of the original pedals and it kicks things up a couple of notches with two loop tracks, two loop modes, seven effects, a loop decay feature, MIDI sync/CC, loop import/export and stereo ins and outs. The MIDI control on a unit this exible is great news for those who like to use more intricate guitar rigs, but if you don’t want to use it you don’t have to.
The controls include Loop 1 and Loop 2 volume levels with a serial/sync switch (serial lets you select one or the other, while sync lets you run both at once), mini-toggle which lets you store a loop to use it live or export to your favourite DAW via USB (and you can also import MP3 and WAV files to the pedal), loop decay which determines how quickly your previous layers fade away, and the FX section.
The effects include reverse, half, once, tape stop (a really cool effect you can use for all sorts of dramatic musical transitions), fade, double and hold (which is especially great for building dramatic tension before crashing in with the next section. There are foot switches for Loop 1 and Loop 2 plus a stop switch (hold it down to erase your previous loops), an FX switch, and each loop has up to fivve minutes of looping time, so you can really expand your creative potential.
Around the back you’ll find the stereo inputs and outputs, USB jack, MIDI jacks and a mode DIP switch with four adjustments: Switch 1 changes the default record/play/overdub order to record/overdub/play. Switch 2 changes the default overdub mode from being instant to starting at the end of your loop cycle. Switch 3 lets you switch between your loops instantly or at the end of a loop cycle in serial mode, and Switch 4 changes the looper from true bypass to buffered bypass.
CAN YOU REPEAT THAT?
Here’s an example of what you can do: set up a percussive loop that runs for four bars in Loop 1, then create a 16-bar chord progression on Loop 2, swimming in effects and textures while you solo over the top. Or you can capture a verse play-through on Loop 1 and a chorus on Loop 2, then kick them in when you need a rhythm track to solo over. And whether you’re aiming to give the impression of a straightforward band or you want to create some alien textures, it’s easy to take your ideas and turn them into sound.
The effects are very handy and you can of course send the output into further pedals for deeper signal processing – although it’d be really great if there were a pair of FX loops built into the pedal so you could independently effect each loop while playing over the top. Wouldn’t that be something? Sure, you could just record an effected track into the looper to begin with but onboard loops would open it up even further.
ROUND AND ROUND
This is a very creative, inspiring pedal which goes as far out as you want to take it, but can also behave in very practical, conventional ways. Teachers are going to love it but anyone can benefit from its particular charms.
For more details on TC Electronic products, visit www.ambertech.com.au.
Hits and Misses
10 minutes of combined loop time
Great sound quality
No FX loop
Ambient effects would be nice