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Re: Boomerang (back attcha) (fwd)

On 18 Mar 1997, Jim Morgan wrote:

> Meanwhile, does anyone have any
> hands-on experience of this, or any clue as to how it stacks up against 
> Echoplex?

I gave a Boomerang a quick spin at a Guitar Center store a couple of
months back.  My impression was that it's primarily designed as an
off-the-cuff live tool.  The main advantages to it are that it's a
self-contained floor unit, with a decidedly sturdy construction and
casing.  Most of the main parameters have their own dedicated pedals, and
you can select from three different input gain stages.  It also has a
self-contained roller to continuously adjust the volume level of the loop
as you go, which is pretty neat (though, as I've recently discovered, you
can do the same thing with an Echoplex and a standard volume pedal --
thanks to Kim for putting up that page on footpedal/switch applications in
the Echoplex web section!)  Finally, the Boomerang can reverse a loop on
the fly (also an Echoplex feature), and can change the speed of the loop
after playback, which none of the other Big Three can lay claim to. 

Disadvantages?  You have to stop the loop if you want to alter the speed,
due to the nature of the footswitch layout.  There's no individual
feedback control to regulate the decay time of a loop; my understanding is
that feedback is automatically scaled back as new layers are overdubbed on
top of old ones, which are themselves phased out.  As I understand it,
there's no factory-installed control over this feature, i.e. if you want
to be able to overdub new layers without a preset rate of feedback decay,
you need to have it modded to bypass this feature.  (This is my main
personal quibble with the unit.) Also, the sampling resolution isn't up to
that of either of the other Big Three; its low sampling rate is pretty
much optimized for electric guitar and other "lo-fi" instruments, though
some would no doubt advocate its use for any and all instruments. 

I should also add that since I've only given the Boomerang a cursory spin 
in a music store, I don't claim 100% certainty on the above information; 
since Mike "Motley" Nelson is on the list, I'll readily defer to him if 
I'm in error regarding any of the above information.

I've seen the Boomerang on sale for around $350 at Guitar Center, which is
about $150 to $200 more than the Echoplex (which doesn't come with its own
dedicated footpedal; that costs about $100 more).  As an Echoplex owner
(and apparently one of the few who have been able to try a Boomerang), I'd
just as soon stick with what I've got, though the Bomerang is very handy
as a bare-bones live unit.  There really is a slew of features on the
Echoplex which neither of the other Big Three can touch -- so much so that
almost a year and a half after getting mine, I'm *still* discovering new
things that it can do.  It's very deep in terms of what you can do with
it, but with the combined cost of the footpedal (which is essential, as
far as I'm concerned), it is more expensive than the 'Rang.  (Note that a
MIDI footswitcher can also be used to control Echoplex [and JamMan]
functions).  If you'd be content with a no-frills unit optimized for stage
use, and if your budget's limited, the 'Rang may be for you. 

Daniel Lanois apparently uses a Boomerang quite a bit; in the current
issue of _Guitar Player_ magazine (the one with Clint Eastwood holding a
pistol and Telecaster on the cover [!]), Lanois makes several mentions of
soundtrack work he's done based around a guitar and a Boomerang pedal; I'd
be interested to hear the results.  I'd have to assume that Lanois is in a
position to use any of the Big Three if he's so inclined, so his
preference for the Boomerang suggests that even studo-mavens with
expendable income might opt for the 'Rang. 

That's all for now.  Hope this has been of some help,