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Re: Boomerang: sample time vs. sample rate

At 7:19 PM 3/25/97, David_Mitchell@HP-Australia-notes1.om.hp.com wrote:
>G'day Matthias and everyone else,
>Thanks for your reply.  Using the car analogy that's floating around at 
>moment, I'm in the position of the VW driver:
>"I've seen those big Mercedes around and they sure look nice, but my 2nd
>hand VW cost me $50 and it goes, well, most of the time.  It uses more oil
>than petrol, it's got 4 bald tyres, it leaks in the rain, but it still 
>me where I'm going sooner or later...  Why I should spend $50k on a
>Mercedes when all it gives me is some nice leather seats?"

Uh, this car analogy is a little out of hand.....

The echoplex is not a 1000 times more expensive than a boomerang!

I really hate to get into some sort of echoplex vs boomerang war, but we
need a little reality here:

With full memory expansion and a footpedal, you would pay about $725 for
the echoplex. The Boomerang website lists a fully expanded boomerang at
$599. If you apply some sort of "street price" discount, I imagine it would
drop to about $450 - $500. So that is just $125 - $275 different! And if
you don't need a pedal for the echoplex, they are significantly closer in

For that extra $125-275, what does the echoplex have that the Boomerang
does not?  Far better audio quality, an incredibly intuitive and musical
interface, a display that shows loop time, multiple numbers, loop numbers,
sync points, levels, etc., unlimited overdubs, variable feedback with
realtime control, multiply, insert, replace, multiple loops, loop copying,
multiple undo's, full midi functionality, a wide variety of synchronization
possibilities, (including between echoplexes for loop jams), quantization
features, sampler features, rugged internal power supply, etc., etc., etc.
Not to mention lots of subtleties that just make it fun and easy to use.

The echoplex has a very deep, musical interface and feature set. Everything
about the echoplex can be done in realtime musical situations. It has been
very carefully crafted and evolved over many years, with input from a wide
variety of musicians who have logged thousands and thousands of hours
performing with it and it's predecessors, and suggesting refinements. I
think this shows, and that is why users love the things. To me, it is well
worth the price, and compared to something like an eventide harmonizer,
it's downright cheap.

Now, I'm not here to knock the boomerang. It is a nifty little device, and
it serves a useful purpose in the market as a simpler, less expensive
alternative. My main complaint about the Boomerang, believe it or not, is
that it is too expensive. In my opinion, the simple feature set and low
audio quality do not warrant a price over maybe $150. At a sub $200 price
point, it could be a much more successful product. But in the $300-$600
price range, I probably wouldn't buy it. And I'm now 3 cars up the scale
from the beat-up VW I was driving a few years ago, so $300-$600 isn't a big
deal to me.

These days, anything priced over $200 should have full bandwidth audio. The
latest digital audio codecs offer stereo in and out in 20 bit resolution at
48khz, come in small little packages, are easy to interface to any
processor, and cost less than $5 to a manufacturer. There's really no
excuse for low quality digital audio these days, and consumers should
demand better. With a 16khz sampling rate, equating to 6-7khz bandwidth at
best, the Boomerang is really behind on this. That's where digital audio
was about 15 years ago. I don't know why they designed it that way (uh, why
did you anyway?), but it is certaily the most critical thing for the
Boomerang guys to improve upon! That and bringing the price down would make
it a much cooler product, I think. Think about the Jamman: at $200,
everyone wanted it.....

Oh, and the wall wart absolutely must go!!!!

>Having not used anything more powerful than a Boss pedal for looping, the
>benefits of the Echoplex just don't seem to me to warrant the extra
>expense.  Realtime MIDI control seems to be the single big plus as I'm
>already using an ART X-15 for controlling other stuff, but a tradeoff is
>that at street prices I could just about buy two Boomerangs for the price
>of an Echoplex.  This would give me the ability to layer two separate 
>on top of each other with realtime control of the volume of each which 
>pretty sure) the Echoplex can't do.

The Boomerang doesn't offer any synchronization features, so you wouldn't
actually be able to use two of them very well....It's simple with the plex
of course, the sync features let you hook multiple units up as a multitrack
looper. A bit over your VW-scale budget though, I imagine! :-)

And really, if multiple loops at once are what you want, you should check
out the Akai Remix16. That lets you record 16 loops in real-time and use
them in a multi-timbral fashion. A bit limited in other areas, though, but
maybe it does what you need.

>I don't have any problem with spending extra dollars for a better piece of
>gear, but I'm faced with the same decision I had when buying my first
>guitar: do I buy the cheap and nasty model, or pay up for something better
>when I don't really understand what "better" means?  I know NOW that I was
>right to spend the extra money, but it was a tough call at the time.

That's really the key. Just using a boss pedal, you really don't know what
looping can really be about. You have a taste, but until you get into
something more sophisticated, you won't really know how important some of
the features are. Or how important they are to you, really. To continue
with lame analogies, it's the difference between common salt and pepper and
Thai curry dishes. If you've only had the former, you'll have a tough time
imagining the later.....

The echoplex has the kind of depth that you can grow into for years, much
like a good musical instrument. If you talk to some of the users who have
owned them for a while, you'll see that they are still coming up with new
things to do with it, and the echoplex is able to meet their needs as their
looping abilities grow and evolve.

>What "advanced" features of the Echoplex do you actually use in real life,
>and what do you use them for?
>Dave Mitchell

I think what Matthias was saying, which is important, is that we are not
necessarily talking about advanced features. Tapped delay lengths, infinite
Overdub, variably controlled feedback, and multiply are basic looping
functions. For me, I have to add multiple loops, synchronization, reverse,
retriggering, and multiple levels of undo. I use those functions pretty
much all the time, and consider them essential to what I do in real life
looping. They don't seem advanced to me, but then I've been doing this for
a while now. Feedback control is so essential, that the Boomerang's lack of
pretty much makes it useless to me, regardless of audio quality.

Don't get me wrong, I'm glad the Boomerang exists on the market, despite my
emotional connection to the echoplex. The more products and companies out
there for loopers, the more noise and attention we'll have on looping. It
would be absurd for Oberheim and Boomerang to compete against each other
for the tiny number of people currently interested in this. The real goal
for both, and all the rest of us too, is to bring new people in!

Give them both a spin if you can, and then decide which is right for you.

Just stirrin' the waters....


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