Looping fun in full stereo
TC Electronic has further added to its roster of compact looping pedals. The Ditto range, which launched in 2013, has grown wildly as guitarists recognise the potential on offer from loop pedals. By entering the market with a solid product, which was well made and didn’t cost the earth, the company has been able to flesh the range out with new models to appeal to even more players.
It’s fair to say the original Ditto exploded onto the scene. It was pitched as being a basic, no-nonsense looper without all the bells and whistles on offer from other brands. It had one knob to control the volume of the loop as it played back, and a single footswitch to operate it. No in-built metronomes or backing tracks, no quantization, no auto-start, no 3.5m inputs for iPads and the like. It was to looping what the Fender Pro Junior is to amps – unashamedly basic, but what it lacks in features it makes up for in pure simplicity and ease of use.
Many players began incorporating the Ditto on account of its true bypass functionality, which means it does not alter your guitar’s tone whatsoever when it is not engaged. This meant it could be put onto a pedal board for occasional use without taking up too much space, sucking your tone, or costing a lot of money. Essentially, it gave guitarists more options if they needed them.
And, like the saying goes, the most sincere form of flattery is imitation. Within months, all of TC’s competitors had released their versions of pared-back, largely feature free loopers. Boss introduced the RC-1, which removed all of its bigger brothers’ tricks. Even Electro Harmonix, better known for their more esoteric effects, got on board with the Nano Looper 360. Full credit to TC Electronic then for pretty much single-handedly launching an entire sub-section of the pedal market.
As a result of the original Ditto’s success, TC branched out with the launch of the Ditto X2. This slightly bigger unit incorporated some cool new features, like an FX switch which enabled your loop to play back at half-speed or in reverse, and the ability to load backing tracks or drum loops via the included micro USB connector. While this new pedal did move away slightly from the lean, mean simplicity of the original Ditto, it did offer a ‘next step’ for anyone whose appetite had been whetted by the smaller pedal and wanted to continue their journey.
One of the Ditto X2’s most interesting features however was the stereo in/out connectivity. Where as the original Ditto was a purely mono pedal, the X2 enabled players with stereo-enabled effects like delays and reverbs to incorporate these pedals through the looper and get the best of all worlds. Now, TC has taken this particular feature and added another new model to the range, cunningly called the Ditto Stereo Looper. Honestly, how these guys come up with these names is beyond us.
In all seriousness, the Ditto Stereo Looper bridges the gap between the original tiny Ditto and the larger X2. Perhaps you like the stark simplicity of the original, and have no use for the effects. Perhaps there simply isn’t space on your board for the X2. Whatever the reasons, the Ditto Stereo keeps the features from the original which made it so popular, and adds high quality stereo connectivity.
If you’re wondering where you might use the stereo functionality, consider these examples. Say you had a stereo-equipped delay pedal like TC’s own Flashback X4, programmed with a ping-pong effect, where the repeats pan between hard left and right in the stereo field. With the original Ditto this effect would have been moot, whereas on the Ditto Stereo you could connect it up properly and enjoy the sounds as they were meant to be heard.
You might also consider connecting the stereo outputs to two separate amps, one on either side of the stage, to give a wider, more dense sound. This kind of setup is perfect for solo artists looking to expand their sound and make the most of a smaller number of instruments.
If you were feeling really wacky, you could go against the first rule of looping and put your looper at the start of your signal chain, rather than have it last, and run the stereo outs into separate pedals. By doing this, the looper will feed a constant signal into your other pedals and you can experiment with all kinds of setups. Think of it as a rascal kind of double-tracking – having slightly different sounding drive pedals on each track would thicken up your sound, while having different delays on each channel, set to repeat at different times, would create rather wonderful ambient sounds.
Another more practical application would be to have the output from the Ditto Stereo running to two separate sources, for example one running to your amp and one running into an audio interface so you could record your looping sessions into your DAW for future editing. Alternatively, you could flip this on its head by running an output from your DAW into the Ditto Stereo. By doing this you open up the potential of having drum tracks, plugins, soft synths etc running from your computer into the looper and out of the amp.
Performance potential is great with the Ditto Stereo too; like the X2, it can store loops internally even after being powered down, while you can also upload loops onto it via the on-board USB connection. TC has even rounded up some of its biggest endorsees to lay down some special tracks for you to play over, so if you’ve ever wanted to jam with Paul Gilbert or Scott Ian, now’s your chance.
As with all TC Electronic pedals, the build quality is superb. The Ditto Stereo is a chunky little thing which would be equally well-suited to the live arena or the studio. Like the mini Ditto, it has a single knob on top for controlling the volume level of the loop its playing, and a small rocker switch which tells the pedal to either store the current loop or, when held down, makes the master knob control the volume of the backing track.
We hope this TC Electronic Ditto Stereo Looper review has explained some of the differences between the range. All told, the Ditto Stereo Looper is a great little looper for anyone using a stereo rig. It keeps the Ditto spirit alive by stripping out all the superfluous tools and encourages you to concentrate on your playing. Another resounding success for the boffins at TC Electronic.
View a complete range of looper pedals over at the Dawsons website.