Electro-Harmonix 45000 Guitar Looper Effect Pedal
- Includes a 4GB card delivering up to 125 minutes of recording time
- Import; Wav audio files from PC or Mac
- Auxiliary Input mixes MP3 players with the loop output
- Stereo mixdown track frees tracks for re-use
- Overdub or punch in/out recording
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Building on EHX's looper legacy, the 45000 combines the familiar controls of a multi track digital recorder with state of the art features making it possible to create complex multi track loops quickly and easily. Each loop has four mono tracks and one stereo mix down track. The 45000 records non compressed, 44.1 kHz / 16 bit CD quality audio direct to a removable SDHC card (4 to 32GB). Each card holds up to 100 individual loops accessed with the optional 45000 Foot Controller (sold separately). Loop speed is adjustable over a two octave range, and reverse recording and playback are also possible. For extra convenience, a built in metronome to a separate Monitor Out and a Headphone Out are also included.
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I don't write detail-oriented reviews as details are best understood by reviewing the owner's manual before purchasing. This simply offers my perspective on whether or not you should purchase this pedal.
I've been using loopers (in some capacity or another) for the last 20 years. In the mid-nineties we budget-minded used 4-track cassette recorders. In the early-2000's I moved through the Boss Loopstations. I purchased the EH 45000 as the next 'evolution' as my budget has increased and therefore, so have my needs. I've been looking forward to this pedal since it first came out, back when the cost simply couldn't be justified. The Boss is incredibly straight forward and is, IMHO, the best way to quickly and cheaply get your ideas out and quickly write new concepts. The EH 45000 isn't anywhere as intuitive -- you'll definitely need to read the manual and memorize the basic functions as it doesn't come naturally. Fine. But it's also nowhere near as quick as simple steps like REC, REDO/UNDO, STOP, OVERDUB, etc. take 2-3 times more steps than the Boss. For quick ideas OR for perfecting one part of a loop this becomes tedious. I imagine where the 45000 excels is live performing where you are playing multiple songs with multiple loops within. For the home-recorder or idea-generator, this isn't the best way to go. No screen to tell you what track you're on unless you buy the external foot pedal. Fine. Saving and exporting is doable but somewhat time-consuming.
ULTIMATELY, I feel this is simply an advanced version of an early-2000's looper.
Quick Portable Idea Looper - get any of the Boss version
Portable Song Creating/Playing Looper - get the EH 45000
Home Looping - get a MIDI foot pedal (USB) and recording software and use a computer with foot controls (see below for Mac)
I decided to go with Apple Logic Pro and a Logidy foot controller. You get unlimited tracks, you can visualize your tracks/recording, you can edit them and thousands of parameters, and they're immediately saved and easily accessed later. Even if you never use the myriad features of Logic, you can use the simple Loop Recording feature, built-in tuner and metronome, and setup the Logidy by pressing Option+K, Learn New Assignment, and click your MIDI pedal to assign REC, PLAY, and STOP to a MIDI foot pedal. This to me, is the way to do loops in this decade. You'll spend half as much yet -- apart from the portability of the 45000 -- you'll get more simplicity of use and a far greater range of features and applications.
UPDATE December 2014: I have added more details to some of the below points. I keep working with this looper and learning more of the intricacies. I'd italicize my updates, but there's no way to do that on here.
In plain English: I have no plans to get rid of my 45000. I use it constantly. Every day, whether I need to or not. It's super fun. It's not a recording device, it's an instrument.
Here are some surprising things that you might otherwise not realize:
1. The L and R main outputs are instrument level. If you plug from these into, say, a hifi or a normal (line level) instrument channel they are going to be very quiet and buzzy. That's because this is still, first and foremost, a guitar pedal. [You can work around this by taking your output from the headphone jack, or by using hi-z input on your audio recorder/interface etc. Or, maybe you don't care, if you're just using it as part of a guitar pedal line]
2. The tempo control fader moves in half-step increments. It is not a continuous fade. This is different from the speed/pitch control on the EHX Memory Man with Hazarai, which has a continuous fade. HOWEVER! I see this as an advantage, because then you don't have to worry about staying in tune if you make a tempo change.
The tempo fader generally, with this noncontinuous (quantized) fade, gives you only 25 possible tempos between slowest and fastest. I don't have very much use for the click myself, so I don't really care about this. Somebody might.
UPDATE: If you use MIDI input to sync this to an external clock (like from your computer or something), you can specify individual tempos besides the stock quantized ones. Also, if you use USB to edit text files for each loop (which is pretty easy) you can choose tempos down to the fourth decimal place.
3. All the audio records directly to SD card. There is no internal flash memory or hard drive. UPDATE: I thought this was kludgy at first. And occasionally an SD card will need to be reformatted, because sometimes they just go haywire inside the looper. But I really prefer this to the alternatives, which would either be internal flash (with a battery that will eventually need to be replaced etc). SD cards are cheap and ubiquitous.
4. Within a given "loop" (set of 4 tracks plus mixdown track), all those tracks will be the same length that was established when you recorded the first track of that loop. You can't play 1 track from 1 loop at the same time as another track from a different loop. UPDATE: you _could_ mix and match from different loops, but mark my words: you won't. Because it's a hassle, and you have to match the tempos and lengths, etc. etc.
5. You can switch from one loop to another without interruption, but only if you have the foot controller. If you want, you can build up a song with different sections that are different numbered loops, but it's going to take some work.
6. There's no way to trigger a 1-shot playback of a single track while others are continuously looping.
7. There's no quick way to erase a single track from a loop. You can make this happen by recording over it, but there's no button you can push to quickly erase something. UPDATE: this isn't quite true. You can activate the Punch-In button, then let it record your selected track once through. That wipes it clean.
8. If you are using the click, it's only in 4/4 time (accent on the 1; no way to eliminate the accent). If you use the quantize with the click, you can only deal in bars of 4 beats.
9. UPDATE: the USB hookup isn't hassle-free. First, it tends to add electrical hum to computer audio signals. OK. But also, having the 45000 hooked up all the time to a computer causes various annoying recurring problems, like unit freezing up, computer rejecting connection (resulting in a scold message in the case of OSX), and unit randomly stopping during playback even when nothing is happening with the computer. I have verified this with Windows 8 and OSX machines. I will say: It's nice having a USB cable close at hand for quick edits to loops, tempo modifications, backing up if you are so inclined, etc.
10. I am giving the "no undo feature" its own bullet point, because it's such a novelty to find a microchip-controlled device that costs >$400 that has no undo. Personally, I don't think I'd use undo much, but it is a little strange to see it missing. This is not quite a complaint, more just a 'buyer be aware' type point.
11. I tested the 45000 with an EHX Hog2 foot controller. It works! If you only need the foot controller for switching between loops and start/stop, you can save at least $50 this way. Or, if you already happen to have a Hog2 controller. Beware: You can't start/stop recording using the Hog2 controller, only playback.
Others have already ranted about the high price, the fact that you have to pay $100+ extra just to find out what loop you are on (0-99).I'd love if this device were half the price, but it isn't. I don't mind the lack of an undo because there are so many tracks.
I give this device five stars because it does exactly what it sets out to do, and it functions very well. I'm going to get a ton of use out of it. It's not going to be everybody's cup of tea. My suggestion for the higher-end looper customer is that you spend a lot of time agonizing over Boomerang/RC505/Infinity Looper manuals and youtube demos before you drop your $500, because your music making habits are unique and so is each competing looper.