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Looper's Delight!
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Looper's Delight Review #1
of the Electro-Harmonix
16 Second Digital Delay Reissue

by Mark Sottilaro
July 13, 2004

So the thing they said would never exist, does indeed exist. Now, I never owned or even used the original, but I'll give my impression of this little box.

First thing that struck me is that the only way you can set your loop time is by using the sliders. No "step-step" to define your loop. A bit weird at first. Actually, I dig it. Reminds me of the way I used to use my JamMan. Step once and when the predefined loop length is up, you're loop begins. (there is a measure of count off that can't be shut off, it's just there) Even better, the EH16-2 can put you directly into overdub. Sweet. Perfect for seamless ambient washes. Not so good for a tap tempo delay, but that's not what I bought this for. It says it's a delay device, but let's face it IT'S A LOOPER. WOO... but it would be nice to have the step twice method of loop length definition.

They're still calling it the 16 sec Digital Delay, but only for marketing purposes. It now has 240 seconds! Yes, that's four minutes of loop/delay time. For my musical purposes this is way more than one would want, but I guess it could be cool. I'll have to experiment with ultra long loops. The Repeater does 8 minute loops and I must admit my loops rarely go over 8 bars between 60 and 160 bpm. I'd rather they make it a stereo device and gave me a two minute loop time. Most of my music is done in a studio where stereo loops can really shine, but live you won't notice much.

So.. why is this thing a "stomp box?" Silly. As with a lot of EH gear this thing has too much on it to want it on the floor. Mine will be at stomach level. Because you can't define a loop time with your foot, and you get an automatic one bar count off, I barely can think of a reason you'd want to use it that way at all. I'm going to use it as a tabletop device and maybe get the additional controller for it... I read something about that, I'm not sure what functionality you can get that way. No matter, I'll probably be fine with it without. I don't even take my MIDI controller out for the Repeater any more, I'm fine using my hands for most functions.

There's no actual display to see what your bpm is and the sliders have no "click" spots on them so it's a bit of a guess if you're shooting for a bpm at a certain number of bars. Cool thing is there's a not very annoying metronome (unlike the horrible Repeater metronome) you can have running... bad thing is there's no headphone output. Having a headphone out with the ability to channel the metronome only to the headphone. Oh well. I've gotten good watching the blinking light on the Repeater, and this one has that with a bar accent blink. BLINK blink blink blink-BLINK blink blink blink.... Best part is it spits out what seems to be very stable MIDI clock which my E-MU XL-7 chases perfectly. Make a song with a one measure quarter note count off and off you go. One step starts your drum machine and after a measure you're looping. Couldn't be simpler. I'm used to slaving the Repeater off the XL-7, but it's no big deal to switch. Just put a BPM next to the song name and when I switch the drum machine to it I use the tempo slider to get that BPM (the EH16 always sends clock even when it's not looping/playing)

Fidelity... seems OK. Hard to tell as I was playing with stereo sounds and this thing is mono, so the loss of that stereo feel was noticeable but I'm not sure if there was a big overall degradation of the sound beyond that... just a subtle softening of the sound. I bought this for live use, and I'm sure it will be fine for that. I heard that long loops in the original got really lo-fi, but I didn't hear that at an 8 bar loop at somewhere around 120 bpm.

The tempo slider? Nothing compared to the beauty that is the Electrix Repeater, but OK. Very glitchy when you're going down, better going up. Pitch slider seems more fun. Very cool up and down, but it's not a continuous slider. It's "stepped." Still very cool but it effects both speed and pitch like a tape loop, not like the Repeater where the two can be independent. It's all from the same slider, but you switch a switch on the back to choose Tempo or Pitch.

The sweep is cool Basically a chorus/phaser effect. Not much to say.
Works well.

Reverse. Not much to say here either, but it's cool. Overdub back and forth. Weee! Using this in terms of a delay device makes it a nice backward delay for those Hendrix/Belew moments. Look! I'm only sleeping!

So over all, I'm pleased with the EHDD16. At one point, I had totally independent asynchronous loops going from my Repeater, the EH-16 and the Gigadelay and it was swirly crazy madness. FUN. It was probably too much cash for a mono looper, but what choice does one have these days for loopers that put out a MIDI clock? With this being a limited release, I guess you don't even have this choice, so unless you're going to wait to find one used on Ebay, you're buying an Echoplex Digital Pro.

Mark Sottilaro

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