Loopers all have their unique selling-points. The JamMan Delay offers an integrated looping and delay platform, the Boss RC-505 has a whopping five simultaneous tracks and the TC Electronic Ditto takes it right down to basics. The Pigtronix Infinity might not take anything to these extremes, but it’s designed as a looper for the live musician, with MIDI input and two stereo loops that you can setup for two musicians, be it a pair of guitarists, a guitar-bass combo or even a guitarist and keyboard player. This might be enough to grab the attention of live players looking for a dependable looper, but are there better options out there, or does the Infinity offer something truly unique and worthwhile?
Boss is one of the biggest names in the looping world, and that isn’t going to change any time soon. The RC-300 is the replacement for the RC-50, and it’s similarly beastly. Measuring over 21 inches wide and 9 inches front-to-back, the new looper’s big selling point is the fact it can support three separate stereo loops at any time. Throw in Boss’ usual dedication to sound quality and sturdy manufacturing, and there’s a chance the RC-300 could become the go-to pedal for serious loopers. If you’re just getting into looping, it’s probably better to consider something smaller, but if you’re a loop-dependent performer or write a lot of music using loops then it might just be worth the sizable investment.
Boss is a pretty big name in the world of looper pedals. The RC-20XL was the mid-sized looper of choice for many guitarists, offering the ideal compromise between size and capability and ease of use. But the RC-30 hopes to improve on the older model, taking the reigns as Boss’ go-to mid-size looper. It’s in stiff competition, though, because along with Boss’ own older, dependable model, the JamMan Stereo is also worthy of consideration as a mid-sized unit. We’ve put the RC-30 to the test to see if it can really stand out among the crowd.
Stompbox size loopers aren’t for everybody interested in looping. The small stature of the JamMan Solo XT gives it inherent limitations in comparison to the larger JamMan Delay, especially when it comes to live use. If you’re really serious about looping, you’ll want a formidable machine with more potential for hands-free use, but if you’re just getting interested in looping or want a little additional tool that will fit comfortably alongside your other stompboxes, these tiny units become a much better option. DigiTech’s Solo XT incarnation of the JamMan series offers the basic functionality expected from a stompbox looper, but also adds the possibility to sync up with other Solo XTs for live play. But is this merely a hollow gimmick, or does the Solo XT really stand out among the competition?
If you’ve been shopping around for loopers for a while, you’ll undoubtedly have noticed the general theme of cramming as many buttons and functions into the unit as is physically possible. But when you get right down to it, all you need on a looper is some internal memory and a record/play/overdub pedal; that’s the core blueprint and everything else is just a bonus. This simplicity in design was the inspiration for TC Electronic’s original Ditto, a stripped-down unit that offered what you needed with little else.
I found the Crunchy Shell Distortion to be less bassy than the other OD/distortion pedals I had laying around. Playing the Crunchy Shell over a backing track, it cut through the mix really well and never became muddy. Turning down the tone knob and toggling the Hard/Soft switch to Soft certainly darkened the tone a bit, but I still found the Crunchy Shell to be aggressive enough to cut through the mix. Although this would not be my go-to pedal for warm tones, the Crunch Shell isn’t a one-trick pony either. The gain knob gives the Crunchy Shell a range from slightly breaking-up overdrive to heavy metal distortion.
I have to be honest that I didn’t want to like this pedal. In fact, it sat on my desk for a couple of months with a few other pedals I’ve been meaning to demo. One day I was building a new pedal board, however, and decided to plug it in for a quick test. I was blown away at how thick it sounded. The other distortion/overdrive pedals on my board at the time were a Keeley modded Blues Driver and a Mesa Boogie V1 Bottle Rocket. I kept switching between them to make sure I wasn’t crazy, but the Ultimate Drive was beefier than the other two, while perhaps not quite as dynamic as the tube-driven Bottle Rocket, or as sparkly as the Blues Driver, which has the ability to clean up almost completely. That said, I found myself leaving the Ultimate Drive on and having a lot of fun with it.