Digitech has announced a new looper, the Jamman Solo XT. It’s an interesting device. It takes the form factor of the Jamman Solo–a small stompbox–and adds stereo inputs and outputs plus a very intriguing new feature that I haven’t seen on the market before: the ability to chain Solo XT pedals in order to synchronize loops of different lengths.
I haven’t played through this device, but based on the specs and my experience with the JamMan Solo, I have a few comments. The Solo XT keeps all of the features that made the JamMan Solo a useful device with good value for money. (See my review of the JamMan Solo and JamMan Stereo). Stereo in and out is obviously nice to have, especially if you’re using the device for backing tracks in live performance. Linking and synchronizing loops of different lengths (for which you’d need two or more XTs, of course) solves a lot of problems in performance.
On the other hand, without the optional footswitch (which adds $35 or so to the price), erasing loops takes 3 seconds in performance, which is a lot when you’re standing there waiting for the loop to go away. Linking XTs will use more floor space, and if you add the optional footswitches for each device, might get confusing fast. (I don’t know yet whether the link function allows you to use one external footswitch to control the whole linked setup.)
The real issues show up when we consider price for performance. Adding JamMan Solo XTs gets pricey pretty quick at $200 per unit (my estimated street price). The Boss RC-300, a very powerful loop device that offers 3 independent loops of different lengths in a single box plus plenty of other features (including FX, independent volume controls for each loop track, and very nice sampled drum sounds), sells for well under $500 street price. The Boss RC-30 will do two independent loops (same as a pair of Solo XTs) for less than $300 street price, and includes real drum sounds as well as a few useful FX. Both Boss devices include USB, 99 loop slots and about 3 hours total recording time, and unlike the XT, you can back up a complex multi-loop setup from one device, which really simplifies management of your loops.
Summary: If you were thinking of a Jamman Solo before, this is an obvious purchase. Keep in mind that as soon as you add another XT, you’ve doubled your initial investment to deliver capabilities that are available at a lower price with a better form factor and easier computer-based loop management from Boss.