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Looper's Delight Review #1 of the
Electrix Repeater

by Jaron Lanier
September 9, 2001

I've spent some time with the Repeater, and thought I'd share some initial impressions.

First, the good news. Everything works as claimed, so far as I've been able to tell. No glitches as yet. It is a relief to be able to save and restore loops, and a complete delight to have easy stereo, multiple tracks, the synchronization and beat-oriented features and of course the pitch/time stretching.

In a way, the long delay in shipping has blunted the delight of some of the features- they aren't as surprising as they would have been a year ago, but they are still super.

I want to share a few mild disappointments:

1) The sound quality is a little odder than I expected. There's sometimes an interesting wobble and rumble to the pitch shifting algorithm. It wouldn't be reasonable to ask for something as clean as a high-end plugin or the Roland VP9000 (which isn't useful for live looping because it requires a lengthy pre-processing step for each new sample before it can be pitch/time stretched), but I did expect the Repeated to be at the level of some of the cheap plugins or stomp boxes that are around these days. It's not unusable at all- in fact, as with all tools, the flaws can be appreciated as "character", and I can imagine that in the future people will cherish the particular sound of the Repeater's pitch/time shifting. It is more transparent on some sounds than others. Sustained rich chords seem to be the most prone to distortion. With no pitch or time shifting, the sound is quite clean.

2) The front panel controls are a little too small, densely packed, and sensitive for a vigorous style of live performance. I don't know what they could have done to improve on this- maybe heavier controls and a bigger front panel, but that would have resulted in a more expensive product.

3) The midi implementation isn't quite as complete as I'd hoped. It IS great in a lot of ways, but since the front panel is a little too detail-oriented for easy live use, I'd hoped that you could do ANYTHING with midi that you might want to from the front. But alas there are some things that you can't do- or at least they aren't documented in the manual. For instance, so far as I can tell you can't resample using midi control alone, and as luck would have it, that's something that would make a performance I want to do a lot easier.

I'm still glad I waited and bought the thing. I'm sure I'll be using it frequently and for a long time. Despite the complaints above, it's far, far more useful and fun than the echoplex or jamman.

Jaron Lanier

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