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Looper's Delight!
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A collection of messages about JamMan applications and limitations.

compiled by Ed Drake

Wed, 11 Sep 1996

Dave Stagner: Just thought I'd say hi to everyone, and make a little comment about looping technique. I'm a guitarist, and I use a Lexicon JamMan for looping, as well as a Lexicon Vortex for lots of interesting loop-like work... Here's a technique I use with the JamMan to get a more flexible, improvisational feel from it. When I first got it, I tended to use it to start a loop, then punch in more layers. But what I found was that things just got bigger and louder and bigger and louder. It had a very one-way dynamic. Now, rather than using the looping functions, I usually prefer to just use its delay function. There are 16 delay feedback levels, controlled by the knob on the front. Turn the feedback up high and start looping. At 16, you effectively have infinite repeat. As things build, you can turn the feedback down and let a loop fade, then turn it back up and add more to the loop while the older material floats in the background. This makes for a much more dynamic and rewarding looping improv, I think...

12 Sep 1996

Kim Flint: Control over feedback is one of the most fundamental loop techniques. Without it your loops just develop to a certain point, abruptly disappear, and a new loop begins developing. You don't have any continuity, so your loops can't grow and evolve into something else. With the echoplex we give 3 ways to do this; the knob on the front, a jack on the back for a foot pedal, and midi continuous control. Being a guitarist, I use the footpedal method. I couldn't live without it, I vary the feedback constantly to let things disappear at different rates or stay around for a while.

I didn't realize the Jamman only gave 16 different levels. That seems sort of limiting to me, but even so I think it can open up a lot of doors for you if you haven't been using it much. Try it out, it definitely opens up the possibilities for loop improvs.

Sun, 22 Dec 1996

PMimlitsch: I've discovered(?) a way to do the same thing in Loop Mode. Somebody may have already covered this but here it is anyway.: 1) Define your loop- Tap in, pause/or play,Tap out--single blinking light 2) Hit Tap to initiate recording--single solid light 3) While in record mode send midi note message 9.10.or 11 (depending on fade length desired)--3 vertical solid lights. You're still in record mode but with each loop cycle what you recorded previous cycles is fading while you layer this cycle. 4) Hit Tap again and you're out of record/layer mode and your loop volume is frozen at the faded volume.--single blinking light. Note: Your loop in and out points remain in effect even if you faded to zero volume and you can initiate record/layer again with a subsequent tap. This way you can set up loops, fade them out, play "normal" (yea right) then rebuild a new loop at the original in/out length or tempo. To kill the loop hit Ring or Reset. I've found this particularly usefull in gradually changing the "character' of a loop or when working with a percussionist, fading a loop out, having a percussion solo section, then rebuilding a different loop at the same tempo as the pre-percussion solo loop.

Thu, 12 Sep 1996

S. Patrick Hickey: OK, so I'm a looper. After seeing Robert Fripp several times back in the late 70's early 80's doing his Revox thing, I eventually purchased two Trashcam 3340s and a TEAC Model 2 mixer to do the same.... When I stumbled over the JamMan in the Audio Processing (studio gear) section of Sam Ash, I nearly fell off my stool. I bought it, and the memory upgrade. It completely replaces the two tape decks in the Frippertronics setup. I use it with all 32 secs of delay with about 15 regeneration. Sometimes I will invite some friends over, light some candles, and play what I call "a meditation".

I should note that the JamMan doing Frippertronics is not identical to the tape setup, because it does not have the noise of the decks. This is both a blessing and a curse: a blessing, because the inputs do not tend to get distorted and overloaded, and the sound remains exactly as placed; a curse, because the decay characteristics are also very clean (the tape sweeps the envelope into the treble more and more with each "loop", and old inputs end up sounding like white noise "waves" coming in and out).

I have been frustrated by the JamMan in the loop mode. It just does not have enough memory to get a meaningful set of phrases together to do a complete song. I get about 3 very short segments (ABC), but they are really short. If they don't happen to line up in meter, I cannot duplicate them to force them to line up, because the memory is gone. I'd also like to be able to control the phrase sequencing without having to rememberto step to the correct phrase in the midst of a wailing riff (yea, yea, I know, I need a 'puter - more like, I need the *scratch* for a 'puter).

The memory for the JamMan looks like special purpose analog memory (I'm guessing). Whatever it is, it's not SIMMs, and it's expensive, and you can't put more than 32 secs into the box. This all points me to the Echoplex. Does it do loops/segments/regen'delays like JamMan?

I use the JamMan after my effects box (SGX Nitro) so that the effects get on the loop. Unfortunately, this forces the input levels on the JamMan *really* low. Sometimes I even need to limit the output of the Nitro (which is at the factory setting of 50%, usually). Is this an impedance mismatch? Would a mixer help?

13 Sep 96

Jon Durant: ...OK, now the Jamoisity: I'm now using two JamMen. One in front of effectoids, one in back of effectoids. Generally, the front Jamperson is used as long echo, wherin I'll play with the feedback control throughout the piece, sometimes longer, sometimes shorter, depending on where I'm going. The second Jamperson is the looper, where I'll be able to loop the effected stuff, and go beserk on top of it. There are several pieces on the new record where this stuff will be inevidence. Mostly, though it allows quite a bit of freedom. My single biggest gripe with the JamMan is that you can't loop from within the Echo mode. A simple request, but it didn't get done. So, this allows me to do something like it. You can go to 100% feedback, but everything you play gets added in...

Tue, 17 Sep 1996

Ed Drake: Dave- I tried it and loved it but as Jon Durant pointed out it is a bummer that you can't loop it and play over it without adding what you are playing to the echo. Thanks anyway because I had not thought of using the Jamman like that and it does give a different approach to the looping.

Kim: That is a bummer. I didn't realize the jamman couldn't do that. It's really a very useful technique to have the feedback turned down a bit while you continue playing. Constantly evolving textures and all. Of course you know that I'm going to go on about how the echoplex does this.

Thu, 19 Sep 1996

Ray Peck: I guess maybe I don't understand the issue, since I'm not familiar with the Jamman. If the problem is that you want to play over the echo without adding to the echo, why not add a footswitch to bypass around the box? Better yet, a 1-into-2 fader, where one output goes directly to your mixer, and one goes through the jamman to the mixer? That way you could have very quiet "echos" of your solos loop along as you continued "non-loop playing".

Sat, 21 Sep 1996

Ed Drake: I guess what I meant was that you couldn't control it on the fly thru footswitch as a built in feature of Jam Man . I just turn down the effect send on my Mackie on the guitar channel and jam along. Right now I have my Jam Man on one of the effect sends on the Mackie 1202 . How are you other guys hooking up your systems ?

Dave again: Someone here suggested trying to put my Vortex into the feedback loop of the JamMan manually, using a mixer. I tried it and it was interesting, but hard to control. I couldn't get a good balance between looping and feedback, and distorting the input on the JamMan is NOT pretty. I'm hoping to rewire things tonight to split the output from the Vortex and send it to the mixer and the JamMan separately, then mix the JamMan back in at the output. That way, I could control the JamMan's delay feedback without always sending signal into it. Ideally, I'd like to do this with a couple of stereo volume pedals, so I can control both the input to the JamMan and its output.

Kim: I've been meaning to try something like this for a long time. I really want a looper to have an effects loop in the feedback path so I can have my loops change in some way with each pass. It occured to me some time back that this could probably be done with two loopers (jammans or echoplexes I suppose, and I'm sure there was a reason for why I thought I needed two to do this rather than one, but I'm not remembering it now). The feedback path could be set up externally and effects easily patched in. The downside is the unintentional effect of passing the loop through A/D / D/A conversions repeatedly.

So how's it working out Dave? Has anyone else tried this?

Wed, 11 Sep 1996

Chris Chovit: Hello all! Looks like we, loopers, are finally coming out of the closet! The Jam Man has changed the way I play -- I've never been able to write "verse/chorus" type songs, but I've always enjoyed jamming. The Jam Man has allowed me to start with a groove, then layer sounds, until I end up with a full-blown groove and/or texture -- and all without having to mess with tape decks, levels, etc. I have found that: simple is better! Although I consider myself technically proficient, I have found that the less I have to mess with the technical side, while performing, the more musically inspired I become. I imagine I am not alone in thinking this way.

Anyways, I have been running the Jam Man on the effects loop of a small mixer, with my bass and guitar and a microphone plugged into the inputs of the mixer. I usually start the loops with an acoustic drum, to create a groove, throw in a bass line, add some textures with an accordian, then jam guitar to my heart's content! At first, I was upset that I couldn't "edit" or "save" my loop with the jam man -- but I have found that this has freed me up: I'm not concerned about getting it "just right." I just play! I have had a lot of fun with this approach, especially when there is no-one around to jam with. However, I've also created some loops, that I enjoyed so much, it was rather painful to erase. I am interested in learning some of the techniques people are using to save, and possibly edit loops, after the fact. I have a Macintosh -- are there some good (and inexpensive) digital editors out there for the Mac?

Fri, 13 Sep 1996

Steven R. Murrell: Just thought that I would share something that I have found to be interesting and fun. One thing that I like to do with my JamMan is layer loops that are in identical tempos but different time signatures. If done in a certain way,the resulting layered loop will be a rhythmically complex melody which repeats itself once every time through the loop. It helps immensely if you have the ability to record long loops (I have 32 second expansion).

Example: Record first layer in 5/4 playing notes or chords on beats one and three and play this for exactly seven measures (35 beats). Then record a second layer in 7/4 playing notes or chords on beats one and three and play this for only five measures (again 35 beats). As the loop repeats, beats one and three are coincident with respect to both patterns, but as the loop continues the patterns diverge and then converge making for a very nice sound.

I did this last week when a drummer friend and I were messing around at his house. I played this pattern using chords on my Stick (as opposed to single notes) and then played other synthy sounding stuff in real time above the loop. About ten minutes into this thing, his wife came into the studio. "This is scaring the hell out of me" she said. Try it,

Dave Stagner: ...do you think of your looping device(s) as an effect, or as an instrument? For me, the JamMan and Vortex are instruments in and of themselves, not just processing for my guitar. They're just instruments that need an outside tone source.

Kim: Its an instrument!!!!!! And like any good instrument, it allows the beginner to have a good time with just a few basics. Record a loop and play along with it. Anyone can do it and have a good time. Just like anyone can learn a couple of open chords on guitar and have a good time playing a few simple songs. But then, like the guitar, you can take it to much greater depth, expand your technique, and really develop your own musical voice with it. I really feel like these are the early days for a great new instrument, and we are the ones defining a vocabulary for the future. Its great to see all the conversation going on here, we've started kicking the pace up a notch or two!

Kim Flint: I think the Jamman has a wall wart. In my humble opinion, wall warts are the work of the devil, and anyone that designs them into a professional music product ought to be beaten senseless with partially used power strips and whipped with flimsy little power cords. And then they should be made to stand in Guitar Center for a year, explaining to every customer why exactly they are being charged $20 for a manufacturer-labeled wall wart that cost said manufacturer less than a dollar. But I digress......

Sat, 21 Sep 1996

Kim Flint said: I know the boomerang has reverse functions, does the jamman?

Ed Drake: It has reverse only in the sample mode.There are 3 Modes available on the Jam Man : Echo,Sample,Loop (2 types Punch in and Phrased Loops) you can only access each Mode by reaching up and turning a knob (not by Midi) on the front, and you can not switch between these modes on fly without losing what's in your loop or sample or echo. Within each mode, you have variables to play with, which you can access via Midi.

Wed, 9 Oct 1996

Rob Martino: So to start off, I wanted to get some basic ideas about the type of equiment/cable configuration I would want to start with. Playing Champman Stick, I have at least three outputs (bass, melody, triggered synth), yet I understand the JamMan can only process one of it's stereo inputs. So would the easiest thing to do be simply having a small mixer to mix down from three or more to one? Does the Echoplex allow multiple inputs?

Chris Chovit: I recommend using a mixer. If you run looping device off the effect SEND, then you can send only the signals you want to loop. Also, if you run the output of the looping device back into a mixer input channel, you can send that signal to other effects, through additional SENDS.

The JamMan has stereo ins and outs (ie. it will preserve the stereo signal) but only loops in mono. The echoplex has only mono in and out

Rob: Since I've hardly begun to get into this looping business, the first thing I was envisioning myself doing was building up a 4 or more layer loop (bass, rhythm, percussive sounds, synth), save that off, solo over it for a while, start and build up another 4 layer loop, save that, and maybe do this a few more times, then be able to switch between the already constructed, layered loops as sections of the song. I assume either the JamMan or Echoplex could do this?

Chris: Yes, you can do this with both.

Rob: Geez, the funny thing is, this is the way I've been writing music for years on a MIDI sequencer (build up layers into sections, then use these section blocks to structure the song), but I didn't think of using a looping device to do all this live until now! Is there anything else I need to consider in terms of configuring inputs/outputs, or looping device features?

Chris: The Echoplex is really a different beast than the JamMan. The JamMan does not have much in the way of editing features. The Echoplex has many, including UNDO, MULTIPLY, INVERT (ie. play the loop in reverse). For me, the UNDO, and MULTIPLY are extremely important features. PLus, the echoplex can be controlled via MIDI, whereas the JamMan is limited in its MIDI implementation: you can only sync it to a MIDI beat clock. Now that memory prices have come down, I feel that you get more for you dollar with the Echoplex: Jam Man w/ 32 sec will cost you ~$450 Echoplex w/ 108 sec will cost you ~$600

Thu, 10 Oct 1996

Ed Drake: Chris, although the MIDI implementation for the JamMan is limited and I'd bet not as extensive as the 'Plexs' , you can do a bit more than just sync to a MIDI clock. There are 20 program change messages you can send to cover things such as tap, layer, mute, fading loops, cueing loops, etc.

Since I've hardly begun to get into this looping business, the first thing I was envisioning myself doing was building up a 4 or more layer loop (bass, rhythm, percussive sounds, synth), save that off, solo over it for a while, start and build up another 4 layer loop, save that, and maybe do this a few more times, then be able to switch between the already constructed, layered loops as sections of the song. I assume either the JamMan or Echoplex could do this?

Kim Flint: Yes, you can do this with both.

You can have up to 9 loops in the echoplex. Their lengths can independent of each other, which I don't think is true of the jamman.

Thu, 31 Oct 96

Bret Moreland: Fellow loop minded people, ... When I heard about the Jamman, I ordered one. A week or so later I found out about the Echoplex DP's features. Before I received the Jamman, I realized I probably would prefer the Echoplex. When I got the Jamman I knew I wanted the Echoplex. I took the Jamman on a business trip to Singapore, and decided to put more ram in it. I know the city well, and shopped and shopped, but no Zip ram could be found. I finally found some in Malaysia, but at some outrageous price like $350. I traded in the Jamman for the echoplex upon returning to the states.

Matthias : So the music required marbles and water? How interesting. How do you mike the vase? Do you loop it on stage, too? Curious Matthias

Patrick Smith: Well the vase was sort of a goblet shape, had aproximately twenty marbles in it and was 1/3 filled with water. I swished it around in my bathroom, picked it up with a stereo mic that was feeding a Jam Man. A complex very cool sound, at least to Steev and I. We've not done this live, at least not yet!

Mon, 4 Nov 1996

andre wrote: -anyone out there have a MIDI MITIGATOR?

RA336@aol.com: - yas, I been using one for about nine years for to control all my midi gear... very useful little item and flexible; not without it's own set of quirks, but cool. speaking of features in guitar player; anyone see the little blurb on my record (produced by Torn) in the sept issue?... the entire cd was built on guitar loops mangled and enhanced in various ways... we had fun and looped for days.. best to all, robby aceto

Thu, 21 Nov 1996

RA336@aol.com: hey all... here's another take on live looping & syncing:

I have spent 9 years in a band with two people looping with delays and two other people looping with samplers... the delay-based loopers were me (stereo guitar>modified pcm42>jamman and our violinist (stereo violin>tc2290>digitech 8 second delay)... the sampler loopers were the drummer who generated his own loops and triggered his own click in a headphones setup... and the keyboard player who used sampled and sequenced loops. He would at times send midi clock to the drummer and to the delays in cases where we wanted hard sync. Other times, mr. drummer was master of time and our subsequently perfomed looping synce-on-the-fly and previously created and sampled loops all somehow managed to sit. I'm a big fan of creating loops, especially ambient ones and sampling them for later tomfoolery, so alot of the composition was based around samples of rythmic loops with ambi-washes and further rythmic textures created spontaneously. We were and continue to be (I think) one of the very few song-oriented bands to be using techniques like these. Best thing to do though is have your own sound man, as a house guy who is unfamiliar with your act will have nary a clue as to what sound is coming from where... we fooled many

Mon, 25 Nov 1996

RA336@aol.com: Ok... I was perhaps a bit brief in my explanations... I'll get a little more informative here:

>>I have spent 9 years in a band with two people looping with delays and two >>other people looping with samplers...

Matthias: You are a rare case then. Tell us more!

RA336@aol.com: Enrapt with the textural possibilities of looping, (and being a songwriter...) I decided early on to make it my mission to utilize looping in every way available to me in order to expand the palette of the usual band. Having an incredible electric violinist put us well into the game to begin with tho...

>>the delay-based loopers were me (stereo guitar>modified pcm42>jamman and >>our violinist (stereo violin>tc2290>digitech 8 second delay).

>Of those machines only Jamman accepts MIDIsync, right?

that's right...

>>the sampler loopers were the drummer who generated his own loops and >>triggered his own click in a headphones setup... and the keyboard player who >>used sampled and sequenced loops. He would at times send midi clock to the >>drummer and to the delays in cases where we wanted hard sync.

>So, how did he do that?

The drummer, when triggering rythm-based loops would create a loop of a click sample which would loop at the same rate as his "musical loop. He could monitor all his samples and loops via a mixer in his own setup, and have his "click loop" only show up at his mix, and not to the mix he sent out to the desk. When Mr. Keyboard was in charge of rhythm-based loopage, it would likely be in the form of loops which were created earlier and assembled in a hardware sequencer... (much of the time, this would be samples of my guitar-originated loops; but that's another item...) A track of the sequencer was dedicated to sending a note on command- one per measure- to the drummer's sampler. This would trigger the drummer's one-measure click loop, or rhythmic pattern loop. In addition, as long as the sequencer is on, it can be set to transmit midi clock which can be read by the JamDude

>>Other times, >>mr. drummer was master of time and our subsequently perfomed looping >>synce-on-the-fly and previously created and sampled loops all somehow >>managed to sit.

>Wow! How that?

Drummer's playing to a click, or to a rythmic loop he has created out of samples. It's a short stretch to figuring out the temporal center, usually in BPM's. Translate that to ms ad you have a basic, but generally very reliable starting point as to how long your loop oughta be. I use the PCM42 for ambient type loops and generally go with a "feel" thing as to how across time I want that part of my material to flow... I would just get a general idea as to where to be lenght-wise for each selection. Then again, when on top of that you are using something like a JamMan or Echoplex, it's just a matter of getting into practice in creating rythm loops on the fly... it goes back to old studio techniques before they had any way of machine talking to machine... they called it "wild syncing". (I've actually seen this done plenty of times in the studio where the engineer will be bouncing tracks from one multitrac to another, with no form of hard sync. It's cool and a little exciting, especially when it works; which it can be made to do with practice...)

>>We were and continue to be (I think) one of the very few song-oriented bands >>to be using techniques like these.

<uff> So it is possible. Sterile? Chaotic? The same as any band, just less musicians?

Definately NOT sterile. Lots of fun, and makes for some really thick, beautiful extra-planetary stuff. As for chaos; what's wrong with chaos now an agin? This goes to my original premise of trying to infuse these elements of strange, unusual and unorthodox into my songs.... ... I get the sense this list is mostly instrumental-music people... It just happens with me that I sing and writing for my voice is an important parallel track I always consider when composing. and no, -not- the same as any other band... that's always the point, aint it?...

I'm suprised to see other monster-loopers not much talked about in this forum. Jon Hassell, one of the true originators of the "instrument" does some awesome stuff with his bands. There's also these really talented guys doing this "street" type music with samples, turntables and stuff... incredibe, if you ask me...

For those interested, I built most of the music for my last record pretty much entirely from samples created from guitar loops. Here's the work flow: guitar>guitar rig>jamman(receiving sync)>rackmixer outputs>speaker emulator>sampler.

since I was creating my loops using a timing reference that was hard-synced to the sequencer, it was just a matter of truncating my samples to have the correct start-point. After that, it was a simple matter to lay the bits into the track from the sampler. I actually got into working this way out of frustration with having no way to store loops I created and wanted to work with. ie.: no dat machine...

Mon, 25 Nov 1996

Anton Chovit: My brother Chris and I have developed a looping system based around one or more mixers. We run five echoplexs, three jammans and various effect units off of the effect sends of our mixer. Usually, the echoplexs and jammans return to the main inputs. This allows the looping and effecting of loops, etc. We run our instruments into the main inputs. We have gravitated to multibus mixers due to the ability to run each bus to a different amp/speaker/physical location. We started with a single 16 track alesis mixer. This allows for up to six separate outputs (using the monitor bus as channels 5 & 6). We quickly outgrew the inputs and moved to a 32 channel mackie. This allowed for up to 10 separate outputs. This was not a very portable set up though. Now we are each using an alesis 16 track mixer. We each control our own suite of instruments/loopers/effects/amplification. This allow for up to 12 separate outputs (six each). If we run a snake between the mixers we can process each other's loops and place them in each other's sound field. We are primarily playing guitar, bass, keyboards, sequencers. The guitars are played through small, high quality guitar combos and feed a line out into the main mixer inputs. This adds two or more sound sources.

This may seem like an unmanigable system, but it is really easy to control. By varying the configuration and placement of the different amp/speakers, a wide range of sonic variety is achieved. We have mixed PA speakers, guitar cabinets with 200 watt EV's and 25 watt green backs, and other monitors with good results. We are feeling very comfortable with the current setup and it really lends itself to real time performance. I can't stand to have to think about the technology when I want to play.

Wed, 27 Nov 1996

Ed Drake: Hello , Sorry not to quote from the original messages, as I deleted them before I responded. The subject was about the Jam Man not allowing syncing with an Alesis drum machine playing odd time signatures. Well, there is way but not it's worth the trouble . You would have to reprogram your drum patterns using step record and quantize say a drum beat pattern in 5/4 to play within in the same time as a measure of 4/4 (or any beat the Jam Man will recognize ). Do this by dividing the total number of pulse per quarter notes (PPQ) for a measure of 4/4 ,which on the Alesis is 4 beats X 384(PPQ)= 1536 pulses per measure. Then divide this by the top number of your time signature, 5 in this case, and that means that each quarter note will occur at approximately 307 pulses apart and then you have to step record everything in doing the math for eighths, sixteenths,etc. Not a lot of fun in my book. I only know this from an incredible drummer friend of mine who programs polyrhythms and tuplets etc. into his drum machine and actually would rather step record as that's the only way he can get some of these rhythms into his machine.

The Jam man only syncs up to 3,4 6,8,12,16,24 MIDI quarter notes in a loop. I couldn't believe it didn't sync up to at least a few fairly common odd times other than 3 such as 5,7, and maybe even 11 and 13.

This was one of my big complaints to Lexicon when I first got my Jam Man. I spoke to them about it as a possible update and was told they would record my request for inclusion in a possible future software update. I used to call them every couple of months to see if anything was up but nothing has come of it and according to John Durant's post a while back they aren't planning on doing any upgrades.

I got my Jam Man when they first came out and I really wish in retrospect I had known the Echoplex was coming out as I might have waited to check it out, but I had been looking for some kind of looping device for a long time and I didn't even hear of the 'Plex for at least 6 months after I had my Jam Man.

Wed, 27 Nov 1996

The Man Himself: The fact that the JamMan fails to recognize 11/8 is alone and of itself evidence of the unit's inferiority. ;-[ Seriously, it's really unfortunate that it can't read 5, 7, 9, or 11 (the hardest-grooving odd meters, IMHO).

Thu, 28 Nov 1996

Ed Drake: Let's say you've recorded 4 loops in the Jam Man and are playing them back for soloing over them or to use as different sections of a piece , if you wanted to jump from loop 1 straight to loop 4 , you can just send the proper MIDI program change number and it will happen, whereas if you were using the footswitches, you would have to tap and scroll in order from loop 1 thru loops 2 and 3 to get to loop 4. It's very distracting to have to do this and it's very easy to overshoot and go past where you wanted to stop , in which case you'd have to scroll thru again and stop on loop 4.

Thu, 5 Dec 1996

Dr M P Hughes: So, could someone go through this "non-midi" thing one more time? How do you control the beast? If it only accepts footpedals (eg the supplied Jamman set) then it doesn't work well with the Jamman (which needs midi for the fade section). Incidentally, why (oh why) doesn't JM accept Midi volume.... And does it really have two amp-switching feed-outs? Now that *is* cool!!

Ed Drake: I recently purchased a Ground Control pedal by Digital Music which is a MIDI foot controller and I've got it hooked up to my rig including the Jam Man and it's working great! If any of you have a Jam Man you owe it toyourself to try to use MIDI to control all of its' functions using program change messages. Tapping using the cheesy footswitches that come with the Jam Man is OK but the response time using MIDI to tap is almost instantaneous and my rhythmic loops have gotten noticeably tighter. Via MIDI you have access to either of the 2 Loop modes (Punch-in or Phrased) regardless of which Loop mode you actually have the front panel knob set on (This I discovered by accident, it's not in the manual). With MIDI you can also access some nifty loop fading functions not available from the frontpanel and cueing up multiple loops on the fly is effortless as well. You still have to have the mode knob set to the correct MIDI quarter note setting for syncing to drum machines etc. On page 26 of the Jam Man manual there is a list of the 20 parameters for Loop mode which are accessible via MIDI. Parameters for the Echo and Sampling modes are available there too.

I know I've grumbled here lately at some of the Jam Man's limitations (lack of undo and no odd time signature syncing, etc.) but it does do some things very well and even when I get a 'Plex, I'm going to keep my Jam Dude and use them together. Are any of you using a 'Plex and a Jam Man together ? How well do they work together?

Sun, 8 Dec 1996

PMimlitsch: O.K. -- I'm convinced.-- Could someone re-post the phone # of the place that's selling the Vortex unit for $150.00? Also, I'm thinking about adding another Jamman to my setup but have also been thinking about the Echoplex. However I'm a little worried that the Echoplex might not be as intuitive to use as the Jamman. Any thoughts or suggestions?

Kim Flint: I'm obviously biased on this issue, but here's my thoughts anyway.

The Echoplex offers a lot more functionality than the Jamman, so in that regard it might have a somewhat longer learning curve. But it was designed to be intuitive and usable in live performance situations. If anything, the display on the plex is a lot more informative and the footpedal is certainly more useful than those offered for the Jamman. What you see in the Echoplex is the result of 5-6 years of development by people who spenta lot of time trying out all the ideas in real situations and making it as musically useful as possible. And that development was based on previous experiences with delays and loop units going all the way back to tape stuff in the 70's. Find one and spend enough time with it to appreciate some of the subtleties in the interface.

The Echoplex does offer a lot of depth, some of which you may never get to. You can do a lot with just the three most basic functions - Record, Overdub, and Multiply. Even if you never get passed those, you can open up a whole new world in your music and have a great time with it.

If you see an Echoplex in a music store and ask for a demo, you will almost certainly come away thinking it is confusing and hard to use. Its the same sort of problem that Jon was talking about with the Vortex. Your average music store retard just doesn't get it, and hasn't taken the time to figure it out. A looper is really an instrument unto itself, and doesn't just sit there passively like a reverb or something. You have to interact with it, and it does take some effort to learn to do that well. Its like if I were to try and demonstrate trumpets, being a guitar player. My demo would suck, because I don't know how to play a trumpet!

In the hands of competent loopers, jammans and echoplexes both become obviously useful and exciting items. You should check them both out and see what works for you. The echoplex does cost more, so it may be an economic decision.

Some other things to consider are that the echoplex uses its own internal power supply, rather than a wall wart, it can have much longer loop times, its memory can be updated with cheap and easily obtainable simms rather than hard to find zip memory, it uses higher quality sampling than the jamman, and it just does more stuff.

And if I just reopened the jamman vs echoplex / hardware geek debates, sorry. You knew it had to come up again sooner or later, right?

Kim says: Another obvious way to get the static cling out of your loops, is by using the multiple loop features found on both the jamman and echoplex. The simplest thing is to record one thing in loop 1, another thing in loop 2, something else in loop 3, etc, etc, and then switch between them. Maybe add a few overdubs here and there.

Fri, 24 Jan 97

Bret Moreland: Having just received my Jamman, without a manual, I also have a fade question. Can the feedback level be controlled (reduced) on the Jamman without using this Midi fade? I would like to fade loops, but do not have midi controller.

Greg Hogan, Lexicon: Sorry, bret, this feature is only available via MIDI program change message in the loop mode. You do have front panel control over feedback level in the Echo mode.

Dr M. P. Hughes: Attention JamMan users! Has anybody tried using the MIDI fade option? The manual (unclearly)states that if you stop fading and start recording again the new recording is at the faded volume. Is that so and if it is, how do you start looping again at full volume without stopping the loop? Will Replace cancel the fade function?

James Reynolds: the manual sez: "if TAP is pressed while a fade is active, jamman will resume loop play with LAYER cued. play is resumed at the faded level."

this means that when you hit TAP, the loop will stop fading, and will continue to play at its faded level. anything you layer on this faded loop will loop at the volume you played it. the "midi fade" doesn't reduce the jamman's actual master "volume" level, it just reduces the delay feedback level so the loop will decay. when you hit TAP during the fade, feedback is brought back to 100%.

Sat, 25 Jan 1997

PMimlitsch: If you stop a fade and resume recording the faded loop will cease to fade and continue to play at the volume it had faded to before you stopped the fade. The newly recorded (layered) stuff will be at whatever volume the Jamman was set up for initially. A cool trick and one that isn't clearly stated in the manually is to initiate a fade while in record mode (you have to be working with a defined loop--that is one that has a start and stop point). Then anything you play is layered on what's fading and also fades. This is the same as using echo mode with various (aside from "16"=infinite playback) feedback settings.

PMimlitsch: Do your looping in echo mode with feedback set high. When you want to freezea loop turn the feedback dial to 16==infinite feedback

Sun, 26 Jan 1997

James Reynolds: if anyone else is planning on or has actually made a pedal, i'm planning on making a combo floor pedal for my jamperson and vortex (my plex pedal works fine but the lexicon pedals are flimsy). i'm trying to track down some solid, reasonably priced, industrial momentary pushbutton switches to use in the thing. since they need to be used for tapping tempos and such, the action can't be too stiff. if anyone has had any success in this endeavor or can offer recommendations, let me know!

Mon, 27 Jan 1997

Dave Trenkel: This is probably not quite what you're looking for, but I've been using a double sustain pedal setup that came with one of my keyboards to control the J-Man, 2 piano-style pedals with a stereo cord. It seems to be easierto engage the loop in rhythm using this instead of the standard cheapo switch that comes from lexicon.

Tue, 28 Jan 1997

>Hi Looping People > >I want to go into looping music. The 'Plex is a desirable machine (and I've >an old Echoplex from the 60's), but I fear the MIDI headache. I hate MIDI.

Kim Flint: You can hate midi all you like and still use an Echoplex, since you don't need midi to use it! Same with the jamman. Both can be used just fine with the front panel switches or their respective footpedals.

Both can also be controlled with midi if you happen to be among the adventurous few willing to try such modern networking architectures.

And if you happen to be among the cynical few who hate midi because it is a pathetic joke, ineptly kludged together by a decade of idiots too timid to look around them and notice that modern networking technology passed themby 35 years ago, and now forced upon the world forever by even bigger idiots in Redmond, why then you can happily use your echoplex/jamman without midi too. Probably the plex or jamman would be fine. The trick at the moment, it seems, is finding either one of them available for sale.

Tue, 28 Jan 1997

Dr M. P. Hughes wrote: Anybody aware of a simple, pedal or kit for sending a single program change message? I'm trying to build a footpedal for my JM, and whilst some functions are direct-control, some require MIDI (fade etc). If I could get a cct which just fires the appropriate program change, I avoid the expense of a complete MIDI footboard, and resist any temptation to attempt MIDIfying any prospective Vortex...

Dave Trenkel: I have an ART X-11 foot controller that works great w/ the jamman. It only sends program changes, can't be programmed, but it's really simple, just 7 foot switches, a 2-digit LED, and a horrid purple/silver on black paintjob. Got mine from a friend for $25 bucks a few years ago, don't think they're made anymore, but you might find one used.

Tue, 28 Jan 1997

Kim Flint wrote : The plex can sync to pulses, using the BeatSync input. Does that help?

kbp@imaginet.fr: Indeed, it does a lot : that means I could sync the 'plex from a trigger, no need of a Clock-to-Midi converter.

Matthias Grobs' confirmation : Sure! You can sycronize it that way with the analog sequencer, sending out a trigger once a sequence to the BeatSync. Or reverse, BeatSync can also be configured to put out a trigger once a loop. I doubt the JamMan has this option, does it?

kbp@imaginet.fr: I doubt too. A friend of mine has a JamMan. As the guy is another Midi-opponent and analog activist (he built his own modular systems), if the JamMan had this option, he would have soon discovered it and talked me about.

Greg Hogan: No, the JAMMAN will only sync in forward to MIDI clock only.

Mon, 3 Feb 1997

Trev said: You know, there is one tweak I would be very interested in: either playing my loops backwards, or being able to have a backwards sample loop. I figure that there must be a way to do this using a sequencer/drum machine/whatever, but the whole reason I like my JamSter is that I don't have to mess with that. Am I missing something here?

Ed: Trev, I want to make sure I understand you. Do you mean have the backwards sample loop around with out having to trigger it via footswitch ? I'm not sure. You can't play loops backwards, you can only play backwards in the sample mode (one pass sample which means no layering, etc.) Also I'm not sure but I think the MIDI clock, which runs sequencers and drum machines, doesn't work in the sample Mode only in either of the Loop Modes.

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