A fellow emailed me asking about my thoughts on the new boutique hardware looper on the scene, and this is what I wrote back:
I have mixed feelings about the Looperlative. I do think it’s really
cool that somebody is answering what a lot of people have been asking
for for a long time: a stereo, high-resolution long delay. Certainly,
there’s more to it than that – the idea of multiple sync’d or unsync’d
stereo loops in a single box seems like the biggest “wow” factor
involved. But it strikes me as a sort of “modern retro” version of a
looper – modern technical specs being dedicated to a souped-up version
of the sort of long-delay paradigm that’s been so prevalent in looping
Reservations/questions/concerns I have?
– The much-ballyhooed “easily updatable software via Ethernet” feature
seems like a very similar basic concept to the Electrix CFC card update
paradigm, so I’m not sure I understand how this is such an innovative
angle from what the Repeater had nearly half a decade ago. Bob seems a
lot more together than Electrix (granted, that’s not saying a whole
– As far as I can tell, Bob has basically had two musicians working with
the unit for about a month, and is now preparing to ship version 1.x
units. Without wanting to take anything away from Steve Lawson or Rick
Walker (or Bob), I have a suspicion that, as more and more players use
the unit in different ways, under different circumstances, that more and
more bugs will start showing up which simply didn’t reveal themselves
from what Steve or Rick do. I could be totally wrong, and that the
three of those guys have come up with a totally, 100% bug-free software
version. But based on my experiences in beta-testing two different
software upgrades for the Echoplex, I have a hard time thinking that
there won’t be at least a few bugs needing to be ironed out.
– Maybe the single biggest thing, for me: I don’t get a strong sense
that there’s a serious overriding, consistent design angle involved. I
get the sense that Bob had some ideas for what he wanted to see
implemented, solicited some more ideas from a couple of his favorite
musicians, and put them into a box. As time goes on, it looks like
he’ll continue to solicit more ideas and add them as he has the time and inclination.
The idea of a “design philosophy” has much more to do with the world of
instrument design than effects design, I think – one of the biggest
aspects of the Echoplex is the way that all of the functions and
parameters are based on a few basic, fundamental design aspects, which
are followed through in numerous different applications. I don’t see so
much of that with the Looperlative – maybe because it’s coming from more
of an effects-based paradigm, or… maybe because there’s no feature
list or spec sheet available?!
In any event, all of this – not just my talk, but the ideas of anyone
other than Bob, Steve, and Rick – is completely hypothetical speculation
until such time and the unit actually starts shipping and being used by
a fair number of players. I definitely don’t see it replacing or
supplanting an Echoplex, and it’s been gratifying to see that there’s
been relatively little trash-talking involved – Steve’s website comment
about the LP-1 “kicking the ass of every other hardware looper out
there” is about the worst I’ve seen, and I’ll grant him a bit of
spur-of-the-moment-excitement chest-beating for the time being.
I hope it works out, I really do.
I was astonished when the first LD list member put his pair of EDPs on eBay, saying he was getting a Looperlative. I appreciate there may have been financial constraints, but this seems rather premature to me given that the first customer units have yet to ship.
It also seemed odd given this comment by Steve Lawson on the LD list on the 14th of December (taken from a much longer email):
“If you’re looking for something to replicate the feature set of the
EDP, it’s not that. It may well end up incorporating some of the more
esoteric EDP ideas, but I’m guessing Andre is about to switch units
after spending a decade building up the facility he has with the
echoplex… What I predict will happen is that a fair few people will
end up with one of each – especially those who like the granular cut
‘n’ paste freakery of the Echoplex, but want the option to a) go
stereo and b) reorder those bits and keep some stuff going while they
they carry on chopping elsewhere.”
(It makes more sense if you assume he meant to write “I’m guessing Andre isn’t about to switch units”)
From my POV “It may well end up incorporating some of the more esoteric EDP ideas” says “don’t sell your EDP anytime soon” and certainly don’t sell all your EDPs, as at least one LD list member has done.
Having said that, I’ll still order one if people say good things about the first batch.
the Suit & Tie Guy Band concurs with the Altruist.
i have my own set of issues with Bob’s box … however i still want one really bad.
it does most of what i want. keep in mind that i do no rhythmic or structured looping (like you and Travis H do) so this box should work just great.
EDP replacement? no way. i hate gibson’s guts and will never own one of those overpriced boxes ever again but the interface and the LoopIV software is the ultimate development of the rhythmic looping idea.
Re: the Suit & Tie Guy Band concurs with the Altruist.
If you think EDPs are overpriced where you are you should try buying them over here 🙁
They’re as rare as rocking horse droppings here too, it took me six months to track down each of my used (and relatively inexpensive) ones.
i actually wish i could have bought kris hARTung’s echoplexen.
that was a fucking deal.
can’t believe i’m saying that about EDPs at 600 apiece used, a hundred more than i paid for mine new.