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This article was originally published in issue #41
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TC Electronic’s diminutive Ditto looper changed the rules for the size and simplicity of this most creative and useful of pedals. With a single footswitch and dial design, the original Ditto became an overnight success thanks to its great sound quality and amazing ease of use. However, never one to rest on its laurels, the company has released a number of iterations of the Ditto with features designed to appeal to different types of musician. The latest in the line is the Ditto X4, a much bigger pedal with the same footprint as the other X4 pedals in TC’s range but with a vastly expanded feature set.
The biggest new feature is that the X4 variant features dual looping capability. The two loops can be run in either Serial or Sync mode, Serial mode letting you seamlessly switch between your loops for a traditional Verse to Chorus style song structure whilst Sync mode lets you run both loop tracks together at the same time for more creative possibilities. Each loop has a maximum record time of five minutes utilising the same fantastic sound quality as the original Ditto pedal for superb audio reproduction while leaving your original tone uncoloured thanks to true bypass operation and analogue dry-through.
Also new to the X4 pedal are the seven FX types with Tape Stop, Fade, Double (speed), Hold, Reverse, Half (speed) and a Once effect giving the user an array of creative options that can really add variety and interest to your looping performances with a single press of the FX footswitch. A Decay knob allows previous loops to die away naturally at a chosen speed as newer loops are recorded, offering more natural song evolution for complex performances. In its fully clockwise position, loops will remain and stack up with as many overdubs as you need.
Despite these new features, the layout of the Ditto X4 remains very intuitive and simple to use. Four, non-latching footswitches control Loop 1, Loop 2, Stop and FX for recording, playing, overdubbing, stopping and adding FX to loops. Four large dials at the top of the pedal control Loop 1 and Loop 2’s volume levels, the Decay time and the chosen FX type. Since the Ditto X4 also has the capability to store a separate audio file to a save slot within loops 1 and 2 via a USB connection to a computer, a small toggle switch transforms the Loop 1 and 2 level control into a level dial for this audio file that can be used as a backing track, for example. Flicking and holding the same switch into its upward position saves whatever loops are recorded into either Loop 1 or 2 so that they remain once the unit is powered off. The USB port also allows the user to export their loops to a DAW for editing at a later stage if required. Finally, for the front panel we get a toggle switch for Serial or Sync operation.
The back panel houses a pair of true stereo ins and outs, the 9v DC input, USB connection and MIDI in and thru ports that can be used to synchronise the pedal to and external source for perfectly in time loops. A small bank of DIP switches is also housed on the back panel, allowing more complex operation parameters to be changed if needed. Switch 1 changes the default Record – Play – Overdub order to Record – Overdub – Play. Switch 2 changes the default overdub mode from being instant to starting at the end of your loop cycle. Switch 3 lets you switch between your loops instantly or at the end of a loop cycle in serial mode. Finally, Switch 4 changes the looper from true bypass to buffered bypass. These switches are extremely useful for setting the pedal up just the way you need for a performance and come in very useful in Serial mode when you want to switch between Loop 1 and 2 perfectly in time.
The Ditto X4 is a fantastically well thought out looper pedal that takes the ethos of the original Ditto and brings it to its ultimate conclusion. It’s incredibly intuitive to use and offers huge creative potential without needing a degree in rocket science to operate. The footprint is quite large but your foot will very much appreciate the space between the footswitches and the dials are all large enough to be seen mid-performance. As an added bonus TC has also included some great loops from famous guitar players on their website, known as ‘Starjams’ that can be uploaded to the pedal via the USB cable to jam along with and for inspiration. The price for all of these features is very impressive too and, since the pedal is built like a tank, it should survive the most rigorous of tour schedules. With all this considered, it’s hard not to give the highest recommendation to the excellent Ditto X4 looper and we’re sure it’ll be appearing in a lot of guitar players trick bags very soon.