Posted on03 August 2017 9:56 PM GMT

9 of the Best Stereo Looper Pedals for Your Consideration

Electric GuitarGuitar OwnershipGuitar PedalsEffects PedalsLooper PedalsLooping Pedals+-
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Ever since I switched out the TimeLine for the EchoSystem, I’ve been short of a Looper. The EchoSystem Looper firmware update does not appear to be happening any time soon, so I need to find a replacement for that functionality. My pedal chain is stereo, so to capture and loop the chain, I need a stereo looper.

 

Funny thing about ’Loopers’ is that the synonymous nature of the word means confusion between Looper ’Loop Switching’ pedals and Looper ’Looping’ pedals - which is what we are concerned with here. Historically this sector was pretty much owned by Boss - with its RC family of pedals, and DigiTech with its JamMan series. Latterly though TC Electronic have kind of cleaned up with ’Ditto’ - there is no type of looper pedal more often featured on pedalboards than one type of Ditto or another - Ditto comes in mini, regular, X2 and X4 varieties.

 

The Mini is mono only, but is great near the start of your chain - for testing modulations and secondary effects pedals by looping dry or drive signals while you tweak dials. The regular Ditto, X2 and X4 are all stereo and can be placed at the end of the chain to capture the full stereo load. Ideally I wanted a regular-sized pedal with 2 footswitches for ultimate control, but the regular only has 1; my choice was therefore the X2 which is nearly twice the size of the regular; the X4 is almost regular x 4 in size so a little large. I’m waiting for someone innovative to come out with a full-featured stereo looper with 2 footswitches in the regular-sized enclosure - something like a Chase Bliss or Foxpedal layout.

 

When it comes to Stereo Looper Pedals you really don’t have too much choice - there are lots of lower-cost clones of Boss RC-1 / RC-3 type pedals like the Nux Loop Core etc. - but these all tend to be mono only. There are also several TCE Ditto X2 style clones with a Left/Right channel volume control - like the CNZ RePete - these look like white-label manufactured clones in a couple of alternative enclosures. I’ve not featured any mini pedals in the list for once, as none are stereo, but if I needed a mini, I would not hesitate to get the Ditto Mini.

 

For top-level pro style Loopers, you should be looking at the Boomerang III, EHX 22500, or what would be my pro choice - the Pigtronix Infinity Looper. The dual Boss RC-30 and DigiTech JamMan Stereo look kind of old-fashioned and clunky now - they really need a more contemporary refresh.

 

Finally we have the Line 6 DL4 Modeler, which is principally a delay pedal, but with a great looper on-tap and really intuitive controls. Then there is the DigiTech Trio+ which is its own thing really (Auto Bass+Drum Accompanist), but does also have stereo looping onboard. I’ve had the Trio+ for a while, and even though there is no doubting its amazing smart functionality, I’ve not found much use for it recently. The Ditto X2 though is very intuitive and really easy to use - would prefer to have it smaller, but the functionality it contains is perfect for my needs. With the size of enclosure, I also think TCE could have packed a few more features onboard - ideally I either want the same enclosure size with additional functionality or the same functionality in a smaller regular enclosure - both should be possible.

 

NOTE - Pedals are pictured and listed alphabetically by brand, prices are the lowest I could find online for new. I generally look for a range of pedals at different sizes, price ranges and varying degrees of functionality / ability - to suit most scenarios.

Boomerang III Phrase Sampler - $589 (Full RRP)

This one has actually been out of production for a while - made in Texas, but is in the process of a revival, with a new version feted to be released later this year. Has an incredible feature set to go with its pretty massive footprint, but then it does have 5 sizeable footswitches. It is one of the 3 super-class Loopers here, alongside the EHX 22500 and Pigtronix Infinity, It will have to go some though to unseat the Pigtronix as the current pro's favourite full-featured looper, I'm not sure its enormous enclosure does it any favours really, but there's no doubting this is a formidable device and the short travel switches make for very clean and crisp loops - also retains pretty decent fidelity - definitely a pro solution.

Boss RC-30 - £169

This is kind of the standard in dual stereo loopers, Ed Sheeran famously uses a modified version of its RC-20 predecessor. Does everything you might need a looper to do, with additional rhythm track and decent feature-set, although the pedal design is starting to look clunky and old-fashioned. Several old pros swear by Boss loopers, you know you're getting rock-solid build quality, could probably do with a refresh though.

CNZ RePete - £89

This looks a little bit like a Ditto X2 clone, and I have seen similar pedals with the same feature set, making me believe that this is some kind of white-label manufacture. This is though a decent and very affordable looper, easily the lowest cost in this current selection. I would of course still go for the Ditto X2, but if you have a budget of £100 or less, this is a decent choice.

DigiTech JamMan Stereo - £199

This is kind of DigiTech's counterpart to Boss's RC-30, now also looking rather old-fashioned next to TCE's Ditto range, but both the Boss and DigitTech devices have their own advantages - like the rhythm track function and a significantly broader feature set. Many are of the opinion that the DigiTech loopers are a little guilty of colouring your signal, so you need to factor that in too; generally Boss and TCE are held to be slightly more pristine, and obviously the pro-level ones will have very high fidelity. I kind of prefer button switches to Boss's latching plates really, but would still probably go for the Boss over the DigiTech - it is currently lower-priced also. I feel both pedals need a bit of a contemporary face-lift.

DigiTech Trio+ - £199

It is rare to feature two pedals from the same manufacturer, but the Trio+ is quite a unique pedal, and warrants consideration. In essence it uses the 'Band Creator' or 'Band-in-a-box' algorithm to automatically create rhythm and bass patterns based on your strumming / playing. You can then capture and loop that using the left-hand footswitch. So this is a competitor both for those 'Beat Buddy' style pedals, as well as being able to be used as a looper. Not as full-featured as other loopers presented here, but it is stereo out, and of pretty decent tonal quality.

Electro-Harmonix 22500 - £255

This is a pro-level looper with the added bonus of rhythm backing track. Does not have quite the bells and whistles of the Boomerang or Pigtronix Infinity - yet is very versatile in layering up and creating proper multi-layered tracks - somewhat easier to use than those two others. It has a certain appeal to me for sure. Seems to be a really sound jamming pedal, if that's your sort of thing - the Boomerang and Infinity offer a little more versatility for live improvisation.

Line 6 DL4 - £181

Like the Trio+, this is not strictly speaking a looper, but has a decent looper as a key secondary feature. Even though it is a clunky oldschool looking pedal with a significant footprint - it does have 4 footswitches with dedicated looper functions - so you are getting some really smart looper functionality, to which you can add a variety of delay effects! Loved by many, but not necessarily something I would go after. For a period this was the most popular pro delay pedal, has a very distinctive way of colouring your sound which lots of players seem to like, even though it is a touch 'Marmite' too. I'm still amazed that Line 6 have so many pedals out there which look like they were designed and still manufactured in the 70's.

Pigtronix Infinity Looper - £349

The pros really love this pedal, and if not rocking some form of Ditto, you are likely to see one of these on several pro pedalboards. As with all the pro pedals it does have a significant footprint, so you need to be pretty serious about looping to accommodate one of these. It is very much one of Pigtronix's Flagship pedals, as loved as their equally amazing Echolution 2 Ultra Pro - you do need a pretty big board to accommodate both of those though. If I ever get properly serious about looping I will likely switch up to the Infinity or 22500, the Ditto X4 also bears consideration. For now, the X2 is perfectly sufficient for my needs.

TC Electronic Ditto X2 - £135

And so onto the Ditto X2 - a little larger than I would like, but containing the minimum two footswitches I need for easy control. I would really have preferred this functionality inside the smaller regular Ditto enclosure, but must do with what's out on release. I am sure there will be a competing regular-sized stereo looper pedal within the not too distant future - ideally with rhythm track options too. Perhaps Boss or DigiTech will modernise one of theirs, or else Pigtronix releases a smaller version of its Infinity. I am really take with 2-switch regular pedals these days - along the lines of Chase Bliss, Foxpedal and the Dr Scientist Frazz Dazzler - if those can accommodate dual footswitches, then surely TCE and Boss can re-engineer their current loopers into more svelte offerings. I also feel that the Ditto X2 is really just a regular sized pedal masquerading in a slightly-too-large enclosure. If it's going to be that large, give me a few more dials and toggles to extend the feature set! Another area which the Ditto is somewhat lacking in is banks / presets which most of the other bigger pedals have - so you can store specific loops in sequenced banks - for easy replay in a live situation. I'm not playing live, so the Ditto X2 is about right for me - there is definite room for improvement for all of these though. Considering what TCE is doing with 'Mash' and smart switch technologies for the Flashback and HOF, what Empress has achieved in its EchoSystem, and what Source Audio is doing for the imminent Ventris - there's a tonne of features and functions right there that could make their way into loopers. I still see this as a somewhat under-developed area of guitar pedals, with still relatively few makers, and few available options / alternatives.

Stefan
Posted by Stefan
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