I wrote a piece a few days ago about the upcoming Digitech JamMan Solo XT, in which I commented that the price-to-performance ratio didn’t look so amazing compared to some…

I wrote a piece a few days ago about the upcoming Digitech JamMan Solo XT, in which I commented that the price-to-performance ratio didn’t look so amazing compared to some of Boss’s recent loopers. This morning I suddenly realized that the new JamSync feature is a potential game-changer.


JamMan Solo XTs linked



JamSync lets you link multiple XTs in order to synchronize their loops. When I wrote my initial take on this device, I was thinking of the JamSync as a way for one player to synchronize multiple loops, a purpose for which Boss apparently offers better value for money with its RC-30, 50, and 300 devices. What I just realized is that JamSync could potentially allow multiple players using Solo XTs to synchronize their loops.


That is a game-changer, friends. I work in a group now with guitarist Brian Maw. He’s got a looper (a Boss RC-20) and I’ve got my stereo JamMan. We can each loop to our heart’s content, but only one of us can loop at a time, because there’s no way to synchronize our loops (and even a very slight variation in loop start and end times between devices gets audibly out of sync fast). If both of us were using XTs, we could (if it works as advertised) sync our loops to build massive multi-instrument arrangements on the fly, together.


I mean, like, wow. The only way to do that live up to now was via software running on a computer, like Ableton Live, and running a computer onstage is not all that easy (and of course only one person can operate the computer at a time). With two Solo XTs, each player has independent control over his or her own loops, and the loops are synced. Digitech tech support told me this AM (wrongly, as it turned out; see below) that the pedals sync via a 1/4″ stereo cable, with a cable run of up to 20 feet. That’s plenty long enough for most stages.


The photo of linked XTs provided by Digitech shows the audio outputs of one XT going into the inputs of the other. That’s not ideal for a multi-player scenario. My assumption is that the audio ins and outs operate independently from the Sync function. If not, that’s not tops. But it still might be workable for multi-player looping, if you were really careful about how levels were set. Anyway, that’s something I’ll discuss with the engineers at Digitech as soon as I can.


I’m a lot more excited about the Solo XT this morning than I was a couple of days ago. Stay tuned for more about this device.


UPDATE: I talked to a Digitech engineer (thanks Billy!), and the functionality described above is indeed present in the JamMan Solo XT. XTs will sync via 1/8″ stereo TRS cable; they’ve tested cable runs up to 50 feet without a hitch. Independent stereo ins and outs can be used on both devices; they don’t need an audio feed from one to the other. The only thing to be concerned about, and it’s not much, is that you have to choose one device to be master, i.e. the one that the other will sync to. But this can be rearranged quickly just by plugging the 1/8″ cable into a different socket on each device, which only takes a few seconds and will not cause an audio pop. Short summary: looping is now a team sport. I’m in.


UPDATED UPDATE: As is usual when a company updates its line, the previous JamMan Solo is going on sale at various online retailers for $99. If all you need is mono audio in and out, and you don’t need to sync to anything, that’s a damn good deal on a looper that doesn’t suck. Move fast if you want one; blowouts only last until the gear is gone.

41 Comments

  1. I got one of the $99 blow~out deals on the now retired jamman solo. What I’m wondering is just how good is the sound quality (not running in stereo) compared to the newer XT version?

    I’m a fanatic when it comes to the quality of my looped sessions. Would the XT be an improvement in that area or are they both identical?

  2. You never know what the sound quality is until you hear the thing, and I haven’t heard the XT. It’s entirely possible that the A/D converters in the XT are better than the ones in the JamMan Solo. But I dunno. Anyway, I always thought the JamMan Solo sounded pretty good; note that both the JamMan Solo and the JamMan Solo XT record internally at 16-bit 44.1 kHz.

  3. do you think this is a good option to use with my cello or wht would you recommend? I have a n awesome pick up and bose sound…what else would I need?

  4. Whether it’s a good option or not–or the best option at a particular price point– depends on what functions and features you need. If you need to synchronize multiple loopers (perhaps among multiple players) in performance, then the only options available are a computer running Ableton Live or a pair or more of Digitech JamMan Solo XTs.

    If you’re content to make basic loops that don’t involve adding and removing a lot of layers, then the previous generation of JamMan Solo (mono output, no sync) could be all you need, and they may still available be at the blowout price of $100. That previous generation of loopers all have 16-bit 44.1kHz sound quality, so they sound fine.

    With a looper, the ability to make it do what you want to do quickly is very important, and that means the ergonomics matter. So I recommend that you decide on your budget, put the features you want in priority order, and go to the nearest Guitar Center or equivalent store. There you can try every looper in your price range, and take home the one that gives you the features you want with a pedal you can work more or less easily.

    An awesome pickup and Bose sound system should do the job nicely. Consider an FX processor or two if the Bose doesn’t offer any; reverb and delay are always the first two effects to add to an electric rig. For me pitch shifting would be next.

  5. Hello there. I have pre-ordered two of the xt express pedals and I agree with you comments. I was where I can get 1/8 inch stereo cable to connect or synch the two. Would you know?

    thanks

  6. In the USA, Radio Shack. If you’re not in the USA, try amazon.com. Wait until you get the pedals to make sure you get the right cables; it might be 3.5 mm instead of 1/8 inch (they’re close, but not exactly the same).

  7. Hello everyone. I am currently using a Boomerang for solo looping and thought of adding a jamman stereo for the xlr input so I can loop vocals and a few prerecorded loops that would be too complicated to create on the fly. I do realize they cannot be synced but thought I would use the Rang for live looping and the Jamman for single progression style loops and saved loops. Just wondering what you guys think and if these new J!amsync pedals can do what the Rang can do as far as serial or parallel loops. Also does the Jamman stereo have Jamsync capabilities? Thanks for any thoughts and happy looping!

  8. Hi Josh, the JamMan Stereo does NOT have JamSync, and Digitech currently have no plans to offer it on that device so far as I know. Bummer. The Solo XT and one or more Express devices could be compbined into a multitrack unit with independent synced tracks, but that setup wouldn’t have an XLR. That simple builtin mixer on the Stereo is definitely handy.

  9. Thanks for the response. I think I’m going to try the Jamman and Rang based on my needs. I’ll post a link when I get some new material worked out. Have a good one.

  10. I was so psyched to get two of these! I got them to replace my rc-50 because it couldn’t easily switch back and forth between two different loops and there was no way to silently mane new loops in the background while another loop is playing. I got the Solo XT’s and am building a switcher network that uses three foot switches and three cd4066 ic switches. One foot switch will be able to switch input between the loopers, the other two will switch the looper outputs between the amp and headphones. Foot switches are setup to be easily hit separately or all at once, allowing someone to make a verse loop, leave it playing through the amp, develop a chorus loop into headphones, then step on all of the switches and switch from verse to chorus, ready to record another loop back onto the verse loop if you want, into headphones.

    So, if you get that, Jamsync should be awesome! It’s not. The master starts and stops the slave looper…..damn it……they couldn’t just clock sync them……

    I’m going to try to hack it!

  11. Thanks for this. The switching system sounds amazing. It’s unfortunate that Digitech chose to hard-sync start and stop functions between the master and slave devices; I agree with your assessment–clock sync would be much better. Let us know if you get that hack working.

  12. I’d love to know if you hack the sync signal as well. It seems foolish to me that they chose to go with a proprietary system. They’d sell these by the boatloads if it could be synced to midi or cv stuff

  13. hi, i need some looper for building up like a verse/chorus loop. i bought the fs3x switcher for my solo xt, for stepping through the programs. BUT: i have to record + save the loops BEFORE i can switch to another. its not practicable for live recording different versions. no safe via foot switch, just that stupid tempo/clear function….???

    best – stefan

  14. You’re right, and I have the same problem with the Digitech loopers; can’t switch to another loop without losing the first one. A solution might be one of the Boss multitrack loopers, where you can record up to 4 different loops and control the volume individually on each. But those are a lot pricier than the Digitechs.

  15. Hmmm. Suppose you had two Expresses linked to a Solo XT. You lay down the drum part on the Solo XT, which is the master. Then you do the accompaniment for the first section on one of the Expresses. When you’re ready, you stop the first Express and record the loop for the second section on the second Express. All the the while the Solo Xt is cranking out the main drum part. So you switch back and forth between the two Express devices for the variations.

    Not terribly pricey, and should oughta work.

  16. Hi all, I have recently bought a Jamman stereo, It looks awesome but I havent even plugged it in yet and can see that the noise that the buttons make will be picked up by my mic. Has anyone else noticed this or am i being to picky?? Maybe send it back and get an XT solo instead, the buttons seem much quieter but it lacks XLR input, I made enquires with Digitec to see if the silient buttons from the FS3X footswitch can be fitted instead but apparently are incompatable. Bit strange as they are only momentary switches, same as the FS3X.. Any ideas

  17. @paul: The buttons do make a click when you hit them, but I think that’s a (relatively) small price to pay for the extra precision they give you when you’re working the looper. The XT solo will be quieter, but it takes more work to get precise stops on your loops.

  18. Hi
    My main rig is totally MIDI sync and controlled, which includes a laptop DAW using Reaper. The core of my timing is using InnerClock Synch Gen II Pro which has both CV and MIDI clock outputs and driven by a VST in Reaper. Its fantastic.

    I just purchased the Digitech Jamman Solo XT which isn’t intended as part of that rig. Its intended for a very basic pedal board thats the basis for a friend and I will start gigging once we get our material nailed.
    I already understand that the Jam Sync system is proprietary and bought it knowing this.

    However I immediately started hunting down ways of getting the Solo XT Jam Sync to work with MIDI just in case I could get it to sync with my Adrenalinn 3 which will be used to lay down drum tracks as well as for my guitarist to play through.

    So far my web searches haven’t been promising. But I’m wondering if MIDI isn’t possible how about finding a way to use the CV clock start/stop to drive any number of the Jam Sync pedals as slaves. Rather than relying on one as a master and the rest slaves.

    Its just bewilders me that Digitech have gone totally proprietary with no consideration for existing technologies, even CV!!! However from the forums I’ve read so far, thats exactly what they’ve done… and apparently MIDI barely raised an eyebrow during the meetings leading up to their latest two products.

    Even more bewildering is the number of looping products on the market that have no MIDI. And those that do have MIDI capability many are limited and found wanting, others limited by the memory they have, those without non-volatile RAM, limited number of tracks and/or how limited in function. Its really pathetic considering the technological level available over the last decade. ::sigh::

    I have another musician friend who realised his old original Lexicon Jamman rack with an upgrade will completely outrun all the current looping products available. One may argue the Looperlative LP1 exceeds it, but remember that only has 4 minutes of volatile memory for 8 stereo tracks. Think about the Jamman Solo XT before you jump to the LP1’s defense.

    Loopers aside – its unbelievable how convoluted, complicated and expensive it is to get MIDI driven audio equipment properly in synch and marching to the same drum.

    With my main DAW I’m relying on a laptop with Mobius freeware for looping. And even then I have to have Reaper using a VSTi to drive a Sync Gen II Pro which in turn sends MIDI clock and sync to a multi-thru rack that in turn goes to all my hardware PLUS back into the computer for Mobius just so the MIDI clock arrives at the right time there so its in time with the hardware. And even then there are complications in there.

    *** I really do hope there is a way to get the Sync Gen II Pro CV output acting as Master to drive multiple Jamman Solo XTs via Jam Sync to its beck and call … I’m still trawling – hopefully others are already doing the same and will find a way. ***

    So … in the mean time, one of the advantages of the Jamman Solo XT is that you can use the USB and/or SD memory card to create ready made loops and samples. So what I’ll do is use my DAW and main rig to create well sync’d loops to save to the Solo XT and work off them. At the end of a performance the resulting loops that are used and dubbed over will be a perfect fit when I copy them off the pedal back into my DAW.

    After looking at the range of looper pedals available – this is why I felt comfortable getting the Jamman Solo XT – the USB interface, SD card and the ability to provide perfectly timed loops to work from.

    Here’s hoping Digitech will pay a bit more attention to all the many forums where performers who rely on loopers are pleading for MIDI timing and control in hardware loopers. Instead of driving us to use laptops.

    G.

  19. Additionally address the OP. The earlier RC-300 were very difficult to sync as MIDI slaves, so even if you had two muso’s using them, it was difficult if not impossible to get them synced and sounding good. A big part of the problem was the firmware that adjusted the audio of loops when timing shifted even a little.

    I have no experience with the Boss RC-500, but the forums I have found on the topic are somewhat more promising.

    The Latest EHX 28000 as well as the EHX 2880 are good at MIDI syncing. But back when I was considering it I personally found the 2880 clunky in terms of function and for the price and my situation now that I rely on a DAW for my main rig I decided not to invest in the 28000. Mostly price, lack of functions and to a lesser extent pedal realestate were the major factors with my decision to go with Solo XT in my alternative small pedal rig.

    Nor have I any experience with the Pigtronix Infinity but if MIDI control and sych are priorities for a hardware looper, it has many positive points – but if you put MIDI aside, its apples and oranges compared to the Solo XT. For me, once again price and pedal realestate were why I didn’t go for it… for the small pedal board I’ve setup.

    I would’ve gone for the Looperlative LP2 in a heartbeat, but for some unexplainable reason.. its friggin MONO!!!!
    G.

  20. Anybody heard anything about when a firmware update might be available for the JamMan Solo XT that incorporates Silent Clear, as in the Express XT? It’s inconvenient to have to mute the output in between songs.

    My setup incorporates one Solo XT (drums) and two Express XTs (guitar/bass, and keys/acoustic). Pretty weird. All of the sync cables run in to a switcher I designed to determine who’s the Master. If you want to silence the Master and leave a Slave loop running, you have to mute that pedal’s output – I’m using tuner pedals for guitar and bass, a volume pedal for keys, and the channel mute on the drum looper return.

  21. I am looking to make a switch box to control 3 jamman XTs between three musicians, ie which one is the master. If anyone has any details on the jamman output signal, pls let me know. So far I see on a scope a constant 3 volts between sleeve and ring. And I mean constant. It does not ever seem to change no matter what I do with the pedal controls. Then I see approx 2.5 volts with what looks like a type of digital signal being output. I wonder if one output can drive two XTs (in parallel instead of in series). That would make the switchbox easier to build. Any tips much appreciated. Tks

  22. Sorry, I meant: “I see approx 2.5 volts, between the sleeve and the tip, with what looks like a type of digital signal being output. It certainly does not look like a simple, on/off with – the – beat arrangement.

  23. Digiteck emailed back and the information they provided was not helpful for me. They said we cannot run one output to 2 units in parallel. Last night I tried it with 1 Jamman XT feeding another XT and an XT Vocal in parallel and it appears to work fine. I think I will proceed to build the switch box but I will switch both the tip and the ring as I cannot be certain if the ring is a static reference voltage of some sort. The switch has 8 poles and 4 positions (I will use the 4th position to have them all independent). BTW my switch box will be an old 4 port router, which conveniently has cat5 ports on it which I will use to run lines to the 3 XTs (terminating in 2 1/8 in stereo plugs for each XT). A fair bit of soldering to be done but it isn’t rocket science. Just A to B, B to C stuff. 😉

  24. I am starting to believe so however we would need to decode their custom midi sysex messages, which should not be too difficult using a computer hooked up to a USB to midi interface and some monitoring software. My guess is we can control a Jamman as if the computer were another Jamman. Start. Stop. Tempo. But this assumes that the interface is indeed midi. And one would need to translate what comes from the source into the specific sysex messages the Jamman requires. A small project all on its own. This may be what is going on inside: http://www.tigoe.com/pcomp/code/communication/midi/

  25. I completed my jamman switch. I opted for a setup where three loopers (one for each musician) are setup – appropriately – in a loop, with the midi TRS output of each feeding the input of the next in the loop. Of course this only works if the switch disconnects one looper’s input (and it’s + reference voltage) thereby making it the master of the other two. I used an old small 4 port network router box with cat5 cables feeding 2 1/8 in TRS connectors to each pedal. This keeps the cabling tidy. No power is required for the switch box. I had some extra poles on the multi-position switch so I feed 3 LEDs with 1k resistors from the switched + reference voltage from each looper to ground so I can visually see which 2 are the slaves in each switch position. A bonus is that, after switching, the two slave loopers flash their own LEDs briefly to indicate they are in slave mode. All grounds are connected together. It works like a charm.

  26. I don’t know how to upload a pic here. Not much for a schematic. Just picture 3 loopers with each output going to the next one’s input, forming a circle. Of course that alone won’t work because when a looper has a sync input connected it becomes a slave, so they would all be slaves. By having a multi-pole switch disconnect one looper’s input at a time, it becomes the master for the other two. I switch both the tip and the ring of the TRS connectors. The sleeve is just a common ground for all three loopers.

  27. This may not be ideal for all situations, but instead of multiple loopers, you could also put everybody through a mixer that goes to a single looper. With many loopers, you can at least separate to two channels, left and right (even without adding a mixer), and with higher end EHX and Boss loopers you could have up to a four track mix where the “loopmaster” musician could fade or switch tracks in and out. Then, as long as everyone including the loopmaster knows their role and is playing along to the same loop, and doesn’t screw up too bad, you’re “sync’ed”! Still multiple, sync’ed loopers may open up even more possibilities, e.g. levels of undo only limited by the number of loopers.

  28. @Guitarface: Could work, but it’s kinda complicated, and the “loopmaster” better play nice with others. One looper per person, all synced to a master looper, strikes me as easier to manage in performance, and at $100 per looper (new) it’s less expensive per track than a high end looper from Boss or EHX (not to mention expandable as needed when more players are added).

  29. I wish to perform solo, using multiple instruments.
    I chose an XT Express, simple and will always be useful, and
    a Solo XT, talented and disposed towards multiple instruments.
    I have “work-arounds” to fix the (and this is the mild version)
    “What do you mean I have to stop the music to save the track?”
    “What were they thinking? Were they drunk?” (pssst. mild ver)
    No solo performer can stop the music. And what? Hum? Dance?
    Solution: The Solo feeds the Express. Both loopers are in slave
    mode and controlled by a custom controller connected to the
    Jamsynch sockets. The dubs on the Solo are played and captured
    by the Express which Jamsynchs into play as the Solo stops and
    can be saved. A simple PIC could automate the macro sequence
    start, stop, arm etc.
    I can “silent” dub and erase with the volume knob, but I’m reluctant
    to physically modify the Solo with a mute switch. Maybe on the Solo
    output cable?
    Could Digitech delete the “tap in tempo” as no human can correctly
    tap in any given tempo as per sheet music. Leave the “Tempo” button
    but who needs three ways to enter the wrong tempo?
    A least ditch it on the FS3X and replace it with FS3X “setup” access.
    I’m more likely to want to change a track to “fade” than tap in a
    wrong tempo. It’s a firmware fix.
    I’d keep the Express but sell the Solo for a better (not drunk) version that
    can save tracks without (Where’d the audience go?) stopping the music.
    Cheers Terry

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