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.
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.