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Re: JamMan stereo?

At 9:20 AM 12/27/96, Jon Durant wrote:
>Kim writes:
>>Lexicon also doesn't go to great length to point out that the loop is 
>>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 
>>;-) )
>We have a major disagreement here. Having "stereo" inputs/outputs in the
>(relatively) inexpensive effects world has (almost) *never* indicated a
>device. Look at all the multi-fx boxes, midiverbs, lxps, digidrecks, 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. 
>the way it is. And even today, there are only a couple of true stereo 
>under $1000.

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 pressure
to 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.

>>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.
>Another area of disagreement over how useful stereo pass through can be.

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

>(>=mono;>>=stereo). This allows me to make a loop in JamMan 2 which has
>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 
>More money spent. Now who's being deceptive?

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.

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

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


Kim Flint                   | Looper's Delight
kflint@annihilist.com       | http://www.annihilist.com/loop/loop.html
http://www.annihilist.com/  | Loopers-Delight-request@annihilist.com