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Does the JamMan loop in stereo? Read the lively discussions that follow.

compiled by Ed Drake

Wed, 9 Oct 1996

Chris Chovit: The JamMan has stereo ins and outs (ie. it will preserve the stereo signal) but only loops in mono.

Thu, 10 Oct 1996

Clark Battle: Does this mean that it will loop the stereo signal as one dual signal but it can't loop one side differently than the other? Is the 32 second maximum only for a true mono signal? In other words, is the max loop time cut in half (to 16 seconds) if you're using a stereo signal?

Rob Martino: I understand the JamMan can only process one of it's stereo inputs.

Steve Murell:The JamMan Processes BOTH sides of the stereo input but sums them into the loop/delay. What you get is real time stereo "through" and summed delay/loop. Sometimes this can be a nice effect, but I have to admit, I would prefer to have the ability to loop in stereo where each channel could be separately controlled.

Tue, 24 Dec 1996

Jason N. Joseph: Why the hell did the makers of the JamMan bother to put stereo outputs on the thing if everything it loops goes mono?? This has been VERY frustrating. Of course it's entirely possible there's something I'm doing wrong or something easy I can do to fix it... If anybody knows, let me know! Many many many thanks, Jason N. Joseph

Wed, 25 Dec 1996

James E Williamson: That, sir, is why I refuse to own a new Jamdude. I found the manual deceptive, and the VP of marketing for Lexland completely unhelpful in taking care of my problem. I would rather pay $700 for an Echoplex than $350 for a Jamdude. At least the Echoplex only has one input, and one output. I ended up selling my fully-expanded Jamdude to pay the down payment of a Roland xp80. I would love to hear what Mr Durant has to say about this feature of the Jamdude.

Thu, 26 Dec 1996

Jon Durant: Hi Gang, Jason writes (and many echoes): "Why the hell did the makers of the JamMan bother to put stereo outputs on the thing if everything it loops goes mono?? This has been VERY frustrating. Of course it's entirely possible there's something I'm doing wrong or something easy I can do to fix it..." Very simple explanation here: The JamMan passes stereo through the box. So, when you are not at 100% Wet, the Dry signal will pass through in Stereo. For example, those of use who have our JamMen in a chain of effects, it will pass the stereo stuff through. Bummer that it won't record stereo, but nevertheless quite nice that it doesn't monofy that which is passing by. Dontcha think? And if you're not in such a set-up, simply use the jack labeled "mono".

Kim Flint: I think stereo pass-thru like this can be useful in some situations, although I've never found that looping a stereo signal in mono is very satisfying. I don't think its a bad thing to have on a piece of gear. But....

Jon: Nothing deceptive here at all, folks. No one EVER claimed it recorded in stereo. We simply wanted to make it as useful as possible in a variety of settings.

Kim: Lexicon also doesn't go to great length to point out that the loop is only recorded in mono. When you see stereo ins and outs on a box, you tend to think it's a stereo device. Consequently, I've met a lot of Jamman users,who thought they were buying a stereo looper and were quite upset to discover that they hadn't. That, I think, is deceptive. (or good marketing ;-) )

27 Dec 96

Jon Durant: We have a major disagreement here. Having "stereo" inputs/outputs in the (relatively) inexpensive effects world has (almost) *never* indicated a "stereo" device. Look at all the multi-fx boxes, midiverbs, lxps, digidrecks, blah blah blahs. Most produce pseudo-stereo results. But NONE maintain a stereo image from the original stereo source. Many don't even pass stereo through the box. That's the way it is. And even today, there are only a couple of true stereo devices under $1000.

Kim: I think stereo pass-thru like this can be useful in some situations, although I've never found that looping a stereo signal in mono is very satisfying. I don't think its a bad thing to have on a piece of gear. But....

Jon: Another area of disagreement over how useful stereo pass through can be. As an example of this, my rig is set up in such a way that an Echoplex with it's single jack wouldn't work. My effects run as follows: FX Out from Maverick Amp>JamMan1>LXP-15>>Vortex>>JamMan2>>FX Return Maverick/Lab Series amp. (>=mono;>>=stereo). This allows me to make a loop in JamMan 2 which has effected sounds, and play over the top with a different set of (stereo) effects. Can't do that with a Plex. The only way to get a similar result would be to get a Mixer. More money spent. Now who's being deceptive?

Look: Everyone has a different take on what's important with these boxes. I don't think Oberheim were being deceptive in their marketing any more than Lexicon. The fact is that as a manufacturer you try to build a device that willbe as useful in as many situations as possible. You ask questions. And you make decisions based around all the input you receive from the field (sales reps, stores, etc.) Sometimes you make the right call, sometimes you make the wrong call. But let me assure you that no one was trying to sell these boxes as something they weren't. (Hell, no one was trying to sell them, period!)

Sat, 28 Dec 1996

Kim Flint: ooops. Looks like I hit more of a nerve than I intended to! No offense meant there, Jon. In a way, you're actually helping me illustrate my point. The whole reason I was motivated to spend years of my life studying engineering, becoming an electronics engineer, and getting into the music industry was out of frustration with the gear I had or considered buying. It was either poorly designed or it didn't do what I wanted. I decided to do it better myself. And I decided that if I was going to do it, I would do it from a musician's standpoint and create things that work well in musical situations. My whole approach was and is to not be complacent with things as they are. I'm not willing to say "That's the way it is."

The music industry has a long history of dishonesty with their customers. A lot of poor quality junk gets passed off as more than it is. A lot of perfectly good products get passed off as more than they actually are, too. This pisses me off a lot. To me this is showing a huge amount of disrespect to the musician who buys that product. I hate that kind of attitude, and I've seen it a lot in the music industry. I certainly had a lot of disagreements with people at G-WIZ and Oberheim over this sort of thing. Either with engineers making compromises because they were too lazy or didn't care enough to do it right, or with marketing people stretching the truth real thin just to make a sale. Made me sick sometimes. And I don't think we were nearly as bad in that regard as some.

I don't think of Lexicon as being in that questionable tradition. You may know better, I don't know. There is a long history of quality products from Lexicon, and I think that's something to be proud of. I don't think you or anyone else at that company ever set out to intentionally deceive their customers in the way some lesser corners of the industry do.

Some of the other companies you alluded to are pretty guilty, though. I think the stereo question illustrates this quite well. I don't have any problem with a device that has stereo ins/outs but is actually mono. I think it's a reasonable compromise to get a product into a particular price range while maintaining versatility. I have a huge problem with not telling the customer/musician what they are getting. I think that if it looks like stereo, but really isn't, the customer should know before they buy it. Mostly it's not at all obvious. That's the way it is, and I think it sucks.

My Rocktron Intellifex can be a case example. I bought it shortly after they came out, and it cost me a lot of money. It appeared to do what I wanted, and sounded really good to me. The selling point, though, was that Rocktron actually explicitly stated the sampling techniques and digital audio specs of the box. All the other companies at the time wouldn't do that, and seemed to expect me to be real impressed just because they used the word "digital." I was impressed with Rocktron's honesty and integrity about that. I did my homework, shopped around, and got the Rocktron.

Everything about the Intellifex indicates it is stereo. But guess what? I later discovered that the inputs get summed to mono for the effects. In fact, if you use the Hush on your direct path, that gets monoized too. After digging deep in the manual just now, the only place this is indicated seems to be a signal flow diagram in the back. (They also didn't say anything about the giant wallwart, another thing that pisses me off) It seems to me that Rocktron was bragging up and down about the things that were actually good, while burying the shortcomings in the most obscure way they could. So now I have something that is still useful to me, but not as much as I had thought when I bought it. More reason to do it myself.

The Jamman seems to do its thing just fine, and for the most part Lexicon seems to be quite forthcoming about its pros and cons. Yet there are people out there who buy them thinking it is stereo and are later disappointed to discover that the loop is actually mono. Apparently there is nothing indicating to these customers that they are not getting what they think they are getting. Lexicon is a company that seems to have a lot of integrity, so why does that happen? Lack of attention? Competitive pressureto be like the rest of the industry?

I don't have a jamman, nor have I spent any length of time studying the way it's marketed and sold. So its probably a bit brash of me to say Lexicon is being deceptive here. Sorry if I riled you up a bit with that, Jon. No harm meant. But still, if the stereo ins and outs are just pass-through, are they labeled that way? Is it something you could obviously figure out from glancing through literature available in a typical music store? If not, that could be the source of confusion.

I don't mean to be picking on the Jamman, or Lexicon, or you, Jon. As you pointed out, it happens all over the industry. I've watched these sorts of things happening right under my nose. And I see people get deceived by it all the time. I happen to come from a long line of high-minded opinionated bastards, and it's just a part of my nature to challenge the status quo. Its sort of like jousting windwills I guess. Or wallwarts maybe. But if we just put up with all the b.s. that happens in this industry, it won't be changing anytime soon.

Jon: I think stereo pass-thru like this can be useful in some situations, although I've never found that looping a stereo signal in mono is very satisfying. I don't think its a bad thing to have on a piece of gear. But.... Another area of disagreement over how useful stereo pass through can be.

Kim: Whoa, Jon. I don't think we're disagreeing here. Like I said, its a useful feature. Especially if you need to put a mono device in a stereo setup. Personally, I've found that stereo signals sound far better when looped in stereo than mono. I recently converted my rig to stereo, but I have to loop in mono because I still only have one echoplex. It sounds terrible to me, I'm not satisfied, and no pass through jacks are going to help. One of these days, the echoplexes I have on order will finally arrive, and true stereo loops will make me slightly more satisfied with the world than I am now.

Jon: (=mono;=stereo). This allows me to make a loop in JamMan 2 which has effected sounds, and play over the top with a different set of (stereo) effects. Can't do that with a Plex. The only way to get a similar result would be to get a Mixer. More money spent. Now who's being deceptive?

Kim: Well I suppose that was deserved, if a bit unfair. The echoplex has mono in and mono out. Mono all the way through. That's all pretty obvious, just from looking at it. There may be other things about the echoplex that qualify as deceptive, but I don't think this does. It was originally designed quite some time ago, when stereo setups were not nearly so common. Accommodating stereo guitar racks wasn't high on the list. And if you look at the back of an echoplex, you'll see that it already has jacks going all the way across. (Plus that rugged internal power supply needs some room. Quite a bit more than those flimsy little jacks used for wallwarts. :-) ) Adding pass-through would have meant sacrificing some other functions to make room for the extra jacks, or making the mechanical design more complicated and expensive to manufacture. Low priority, didn't happen. Instead, we made it possible to link two (or more) of them together to get true stereo loops. Its not cheap, but at least its possible.

Jon: Look: Everyone has a different take on what's important with these boxes. I >don't think Oberheim were being deceptive in their marketing any more than >Lexicon.

Kim: Oberheim didn't actually do any marketing, so maybe they just didn't have an opportunity.....

Sun, 29 Dec 96

Jon Durant: OK, here's a thought for the Holiday season in which we find ourselves:

Enough of the slagging. It's way too easy to get bogged down in it, and it doesn't gain anyone anything, except a nice big ego. (And, yes I'm as guilty as anyone, so I've already slapped myself on the face!)

Now that we've all had our say about relative plusses and minuses attributed to the stereo/mono issues, and nearly any other Jam/Plex issues, I'd like to propose the following new years toast (a day or so early):

"Let's all recognize that none of these devices are perfect. Let's all recoginize that we all have significant investments in these devices, both emotional and financial. Let's all recognize that this list can be a valuable source for putting our own indeas/wishes on (paper), in the hopes that someone with the resources and and manufacturing abilities might care to pick up on them. But mostly, let's all REJOICE in what we do have. Four years ago we didn't have any of this, the JamMan/Echoplex/Whatever, and now we do. Our lives are significantly enhanced from these (imperfect) devices, so let us give thanks for a minute rather than complain about what they can't do. And let us all revel in many hours of contented looping in 1997."

Glass (pint, Boddingtons) raised and offered, Jon Durant

Mon, 30 Dec 1996

Jason N. Joseph: Um, WRONG here, Mr. Durant. While up until about 3-5 years ago quite a lot of effects boxes crossed to mono SOMEWHERE in the effects chain, ALL of them, if they had stereo outs, DID have different signals in each output. The JamMan, however... Stereo outs with identical output in each (oh, except for the virtually useless input signal being passed through). This *IS* misleading, no doubt about it.

Jon Durant: Having different signals in each output is not stereo. If you were to make a loop of a stereo source in any of these devices, the original stereo input would be summed to mono, thus destroying the original stereo image. In the reverb programs of these devices, the reverbs did not maintain stereo image. Now, Digitech did come out with their TSR series (true stereo reverb) named specifically to point out that they are actually stero. Unless you want multiple effects, at which point memory gets shared, and processing power is limited, and you're back to pseudo stereo land.

As for the "virtually useless input signal being passed through", I'll refer you to several people who have chimed in with their gratitude for this feature.

Jason N. Joseph: **Please don't insult my or any other consumer's intelligence by claiming that a) this is not misleading, and b) having "stereo" outs on the jamman when looped output is in mono is in any way useful.**

I apologize for being strong in my statements here but there is no defense for this intentional misleading or eggregious oversight. Just buck up, call a spade a spade, learn a lesson from this mistake and from the NON-misleading practices of EVERY other effects manufacturer out there.

I fully accept responsibility for not "digging deep enough" in researching the JamMan to figure out that in fact it was NOT a stereo unit. However my entire point is that this should not be the struggling musician's job. If someone at Lexicon had bothered to be thorough in their a) advertising, b) unit labeling, and c) manual, then none of this crap would have occurred.

Case in point: both Guitar Center and Musician's Friend, being major mailorder retailers of Lexicon products, *both* indicated, both in their printed advertising *and* in numerous conversations with supposedly knowledgeable sales people over the phone, that one of the major selling points of the JamMan was that it would loop in stereo. Now, if Lexicon WASN'T being misleading, why the hell did its retailers disseminate such supposedly obvious misinformation? And yet it's my fault for not figuring out that it was a mono unit before I bought it?

Jon Durant: I'll refer you to several posts from the past year to give you my thoughts about the retailers. However: Lexicon neither writes nor has an opportunity to edit copy in Musician's Friend. (or any other mail order house) It is a constant source of frustration, but no one (either their local rep or Lex's sales managers) seems to be able to cure the problem. They do what they want (which is often wrong). As for GC, they have historically had the most turnover in sales staff, which leads to poor training, and bad information. Every manufacturer tears their hair out over this problem: they're the number one dealer in the country, and nobody gets decent information put across. Not Lexicon, not Oberheim, not Digitech, not Paul Reed Smith, not Korg,not anyone. So as a manufacturer, what can you do? Drop them and watch your sales drop by 30%? Try explaining that to the shareholders.

You're quite correct: it's not your fault that you were given incorrect information from these retailers. And I'm personally very sorry if you feel that you were mislead.

Sun, 5 Jan 1997

Jason N. Joseph: Ah, therein lies the rub. You're right of course; it's the retailers who, having represented themselves as products experts & etc, did the bulk of the misleading. Apparently my fury has been misdirected... Please accept my humble apologies for the rant... Should have waited a few days before writing that one.

Kim: Jason is replying to a letter from Greg Hogan of Lexicon, which was sent to a few of us. Greg's statement on the matter ought to be public, since he sent it before he actually joined the list. Here it is:

Dear sirs, Jonathan Brainen forwarded your recent postings in loopers-delight regarding the JAMMAN to me. It was not the intention of Lexicon to be deceiving in offering stereo in and out of the JAMMAN while the processing is mono. I do not no why no one thinks that it is useful for your dry signal to remain in stereo allowing you to play over your (mono)loop in stereo. I would also like to know where the deception lies in the owners manual. I am responsible for customer service here at Lexicon and I would be happy to address any of your questions and concerns. Best regards, Greg Hogan Lexicon Customer Service

Jason: I also shouldn't have fallen into the trap of believing anything a retailer says... how stupid of me. I do still feel, however, that the fact that the looping capabilities of the JamMan are mono only should be CLEARLY and prominently displayed on the unit, in advertising, etc... Again, any musician who sees such a device, and sees that it has "stereo" outputs, is going to naturally assume, unless knocked over the head with a brick (d'oh!) that the output will be in stereo. If this was clearly displayed on the unit then we wouldn't have to rely on the misleading input of sales people.

Kim: This is basically my point as well. Many people were apparently confused by this aspect of the Jamman. Its sort of a moot point now, obviously, but in the future, all I ask is that Lexicon try to make their products such thatpeople can easily determine what they are getting and whether or not it meets their needs. Whether that means better labeling, or better sales training, or what, is up to the folks at Lexicon. We'll just sit here and self-righteously judge the results! :-)

Jon: However: if you can find a piece of advertising material from Lexicon (not from a retailer) that indactes that it is a stereo looper, (or any other kind of stereo anything) than I'll accept that Lexicon is guilty of putting forth misleading information. What was always said was that it was a 32 second (w/optional memory upgarde, 8 sec standard) looper/echo/sampler. Which is what it is. Mono or stereo was never discussed. No review ever errantly claimed it was stereo. (Or whined that it wasn't.) So at worst they're guity by omission. Just like every other manufacturer in the MI world. BTW, when anyone called MY office and asked the mono/stereo question, they were told in no uncertain terms that it loops in mono, but passes through stereo. Can't vouch for anything post February 96 since I've been gone since, but I never heard anyone call it stereo while I was there.

Jason: Case in point. Again I was daft not to researched it well enough on my own, and accept my share in that guilt. Again sorry to have ranted.

And all stereo/mono discussion aside, I am still having an extended love affair with my JamMan... Finally popped in the extra memory a few months ago, and am in looping heaven ... Everything from African percussion to bizarre conversation to guitars & random found noise, etc.... Aaaahhhh...

Fri, 27 Dec 1996

Chris Chovit: My bro and I used to use a similar setup, with the JamMan with the Art SGX2000, which has a stereo effects loop (which occurs after all the other effects, in the signal path). Placing the Jam man here allowed us to play stereo sounds on top of mono loops -- I think this is DEFINTELY better than having only mono -- you can use only mono, if you want to -- and if someone bought the unit thinking it was a "true stereo" device, he/she better do his/her homework a little better next time. I imagine that if the Jam Man were "true stereo", it would cost significantly more -- and then there'd be folks griping about the price. Alas, you can't please everybody.

I'm probably not the only one who would love to provide input/feedback/design specs for a customized looping device. And in all fairness, I have to say that the Echoplex DP is not far off from being an "ultimate looper", in my mind. Its MIDI implementation provides lots of potenitals, that I have only speculated about, and have not yet explored. It is obvious that a lot of thinking and musical experience went into its design. And maybe, one day, the bugs will be fixed.......

Anton Chovit: I agree with Chris.

At least the JamNan passes a stereo signal through. In a sense, this creates another channel (psychoacoustic at least) if your original signal is heavily in stereo. With the SGX 2000 the JamMan makes a great soloing slapback (a la Gilmore) with distorted stereo signals.

Chris and I have been experimenting with a JamMans &/or Echoplexs panned to separate channels, rather than worrying about a stereo sound field for the loopers. The spacial bounce from the individual channels is very groovy. Adding a vortex or DDL to loops can create stereo images separate from the mono sources and adds to the depth and complexity ofthe soundscape.

ALTERNTIVE PERSPECTIVE Geez, I deal with a huge-ass tangle of cables as it is; if all effects were in true stereo our hassles would be doubled!

Mon, 30 Dec 96

Tom Attix: Speaking only for myself, I *DO* find the stereo outs useful, as i have 2 (other) stereo effects units in my effects chain. While I'm willing to admit that I'd love a true stereo JamMan, a really hate overly broad and incorrect generalizations.

Thu, 2 Jan 1997

Dr M. P. Hughes: Jon did not design the Jamman. Jon did not sell you your jamman. Jon worked for Lexicon, but doesn't any more. I really think you, and a few others on this thread, are way out of line attacking Jon for a product that is produced by the company Jon used to work for. Similarly, it would be out of order attacking Kim or Matthias for the Plex and PARADIS. We're mature, grown-up people here, and don't need to start behaving like Congress. ;) Please, people, be nice.

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