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EH16 Reissue First Impressions

Mark Sottilaro covered the MIDI features and other
features in greater depth in his review:


The following is my own impressions.

The user interface is very nice. The blinking LEDs
really help a lot, just like Mark reports, especially
the ones that blink at the tempo of the loop, so that
when you overdub a new loop, it is easy to match what
you play to the tempo of the loops that are already

I also appreciate the signal level LEDs for the Input
Gain slider. Set is so the input triggers the green
LED but not the orange LED (which signals overload).
Very straightforward and helpful, unless one wants
intentional distortion.

For my little test of the unit, I followed the "quick
start" portion of the manual:


I recorded loops of my guitar and my Saxxy (an
electric kazoo sold at Sharper Image stores),
following these instructions. The "Fine Tempo" slider
is fun to play with in both Tempo-only mode (speed
up/slow down the loop without changing pitch) and
Pitch&Tempo mode. By combining the use of this slider
with the Depth and Speed controls (these two control
the built-in chorus/flanger effect which is always on)
I quickly got sounds just like Nels Cline. For
example, I overdubbed loops of myself playing high
notes on the guitar, then slid the Fine slider down to
get even higher-pitched sounds just like those
old-fashioned music boxes that you wind up. Sliding
the Fine control to the other extreme produces dark
and scary sounds.

Conclusion so far:

I find it a very good tool for solo improvisation. I
cannot comment on how it would help a pop songwriter
type, because that is a different genre.  

My main concern is how to incorporate a looper into
group improvisational situations, especially
nonidiomatic free improv a la Derek Bailey.  I have
been trying to do this with my Line6 DL4, in my role
as the "sound alchemist/electronic doodad player",
with limited success as I have struggled to get it to
respond quickly enough to sudden changes in dynamics,
tempi, etc.  I have had an easier time incorporating
synthesizers with and without computer control
(arpeggiators, sequencers). 

It seems like using the Fine slider to adjust tempo
and pitch on the fly will be my main way to use the
EH16 in free improv.  This seems to be what Cline and
Bill Frisell do with their older versions of this
device.  I will try this at tomorrow night's jam
session and see how it goes.  If it works out as I
hope, I may put up the DL4 on eBay as well as the
Line6 expression pedal I bought for the it.


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