No tricksy controls, no internal drum samples, no card slots – this looper is simple, intuitive and inspirational. Review by Will Nicholas
Description: Guitar looping pedal. Made in Thailand
Contact: TC Electronic – www.tcelectronic.com
At first, reviewing the TC Ditto didn’t seem like a very attractive proposition; after all, by the look of it, wasn’t it just a stripped-to-the bone-looper with one switch and one knob? Well, I was right about the controls… but wrong about everything else.
The trouble with loopers is often that they’re too fiddly and feature-packed, with complex interfaces that hinder the process of making music. The guys at TC Electronics felt it was time to do something about it, and in their words the Ditto is a looper pedal ‘made for guitarists, by guitarists’. The box contains a neat little quick-start guide that proved invaluable. Since there’s only one switch it’s inevitably a multi-function component, so you’ll need to familiarise yourself with the basic functions and memorise them. It shouldn’t take you long.
For recording, playback and overdubbing, the procedure is as follows. Click and release the footswitch once to start recording, then press it again to stop recording and initiate playback. When the pedal is recording the LED glows red, and it switches to green on playback. To overdub, you simply repeat the process.
You’ve probably been in the situation where you’ve constructed a nicely-layered loop but then you’ve messed up the next layer and had to start all over again. It’s pretty frustrating… and of course, you’ll never get the loop sounding quite the same again. So what happens if you make a looper blooper on the Ditto? Simply press and hold the footswitch to ‘undo’, and whatever you recorded on the last pass gets erased. Then if you change your mind and decide you liked it after all, press and hold once again to ‘redo’.
Stopping is simple; all you need to do is press the footswitch twice in quick succession. Once the Ditto has stopped looping you can press the pedal once to start it off again, or press and hold to erase the current loop entirely. Once the loops are cleared the Ditto turns itself off and reverts to true bypass mode with dry analogue throughput.
Recording quality is described as 24-bit uncompressed and ‘audiophile approved’ (we weren’t aware that audiophiles had formed a committee, but there you have it). You get a full five minutes of recording time, with unlimited overdubs.
It may not be entirely clear from our photos, but the Ditto is tiny. With a footprint measuring only 9cm by 3.75cm, TC has been obliged to offset the jack sockets. There’s no room inside for a battery, so you’ll need a DC supply. Interestingly the Ditto also has a USB socket; at present it has no function but TC Electronic says that it may be used to install firmware or software updates and load downloaded loops created by other players.
The single-function knob sets the playback level of the loop. We found it best to record the loop at unity gain; it made decisions about playing dynamics easier to judge. For instance, if the loop is playing quietly in comparison to the part you’re recording and you want to add something subtle, your overdub may end up too far back in the mix once it’s added to the loop, so we tended to build up our loops at unity gain then reduced the output level of the pedal to improvise over the top.
Remember that the dry signal always passes straight through, so it’s independent of the Ditto’s settings. For once there really isn’t that much to say about the sound, but that can only be interpreted as a good thing. What goes in comes back out – clean and without added distortion or noise. Theoretically, multiple overdubs may eventually lead to some deterioration in sound quality, but it wasn’t a point we were able to reach. Besides which, if you really want to layer guitars to that extent, you may be better advised to use a multitrack recorder.
Maybe you’ve toyed with the idea of buying a looper but you’ve been turned off by the complexity, size or price. The TC Ditto avoids those issues, and it’s so tiny that there will be space for it on most boards. But be warned: loopers are addictive, and it’s easy to lose hours or even days of your life in a cycle of behaviour that’s hard to break.