Vox Lil Looper – TWO THUMBS UP!

Redwood Music Mart here in Eureka on F St. has a “Deal of the Day” every day, its a piece of music  gear that is for sale at a big discount.

You can see what their deal  of the  day is on their Facebook page or walk into the store.

Today I walked into the store on my way to go play at Clarke Plaza and the special of the day was a Vox Lil Looper.  It was for sale at a price I could not refuse.  I’ve been looking for a looper to incorporate into my street music rig, but it must be battery-powered, and the Vox is powered by six AA batteries.   That’s one thing I like about the Vox.

I bought it, and tonight I will unpack it and write a couple of songs with it. 🙂

Come back here in a couple of weeks for a review.

UPDATE  Two more things I have noticed.   If you are using effects and you change from one level to another without moving the rotary, sometimes the new effect does not engage.   Often you have to nudge the rotary to get the new effect.  Also in auto record mode, when you arm the record loop it restarts the loop so you have one measure out of rhythm.  Its disconcerting but just for a moment.

UPDATE  ON THE “HISS”  Well I turned on the looper tonight and there was this horrible hiss.   EEK!  Check the back there is a switch for mic or guitar make sure it is set correctly.  It alters the impedance.  If you plug in a mic (you will need a mic cable with a 1/4 in jack or a similar XLR to 1/4 adapter) if you have it set to guitar you can’t hear the low impedance mic.   On the other hand if you plug in your electric guitar when its set to mic you will get this hiss.

REVIEW UPDATE

To be honest with you for the first day or two I kept vacillating between keeping the damn pedal or taking it back to Redwood Music and begging for my money back.   My first impressions were that the pedal is kind of cheaply made, almost toy like, and the built-in effects sounded kind of cheesy.   Also I heard a big hiss here and there, the music loops seemed to be kind of lo-fi and they seemed noisy.

Now after a week of using this pedal I understand a bit more, both about the pedal and about my initial impressions.   First of all, there are a few things that made the pedal seem toy like to me initially, and now I understand them to be design choices, and in at least one case, a highly desireable one.  First of all, the two control knobs are chicken head knobs.   I associate these with toys and retro radio and audio equipment but not with modern musical equipment, but now I will have to broaden my views.  I still have concerns that these suckers will break off, or break something inside the pedal if the pedal gets dropped at the right angle.  Would be real nice to have roll bars on the top of this, why not?  I am going to use this on the street, maybe I can come up with something aftermarket.

Another thing is the light up buttons, they kind of look toy like to me.    But big deal, light up buttons or light up led above the button.  I get it now, no difference.   Its a design choice, they do it on my zoom pedals too, and I got used to it.

‘the last thing that initially looked toy like are the two tap pads to initiate record, playback and dub on the two loops.  They are fairly large, maybe 2 x 1.5 in and black rubber.   To me they at first looked like they belong on a video game controller or something.  (I know next to nothing about video games if you can’t tell.)   But they are the best thing about this pedal, why it is so easy to use.

I own two other loopers, and each of the three has its positives and negatives.  Ditto is the hardest to use, it is a very small pedal with a very small button that is hard  to hit.   The Boss RC 2 that I have is bigger and more stable, with a hinged pedal.   But the big rubber buttons on the Vox LIl Looper are much easier to use than the Boss.   As a consequence I find myself using the Vox Lil Looper every day, while the other two are on the shelf for the moment.   I have used both of them in live action and they both have their roles,  I think the sound quality is probably best on the Ditto.

The Vox Lil Looper is FUN!  I have been practicing with it for several hours a day for the last week or so.   It has inspired the writing of a couple of new songs for the next cd!  The effects still sound kind of cheesy but when you have laid down a layer they really sound just funky and fine.  A couple of the parameters for each effect are adjustable like volume and depth.  The bass doesn’t track so well on the bottom register but it is nice and rubbery in the mix if you get it right.   I use it on the lower (undistorted) end of the rotary but ymmv.  The chorus is pretty nice, the trem is intense, sometimes you gotta tweak the knob a touch to engage  it.  The “phaser” is scary but wow on lead parts it really cuts through the mix.   Distortion, crunch and overdrives aren’t bad in the mix.  The “acoustic” is ummm, well it sounds as good to me as my Behringer acoustic sim, which is not bad sound for my cheap strat copy.  The delay is basic, I don’t see any tap tempo (I could be wrong since there is tap tempo for the metronome) but if you carefully nudge the chicken head you can get real close to the loop tempo for your delay.   Or if you are just beginning a layered loop, you can set the delay where you want it, and then set the tap tempo on the metronome to the delay.  That works too.  The pitch shifter sounds ok on octave and maybe fifth.  I am not a big fan of this effect so enough said.

The lil looper has no drum machine, but it has a simple metronome, and you can set the volume.  Easy on off, and tap tempo.  I usually build a loop, add some percussion, and eventually turn it off during the performance.

I hear the hiss now when I turn the pedal on, I think it is a power up sound.  Other than that is seems pretty clean in sound, but I am no audiophile.  It sounds plenty good for live improvisational looping, which is what this pedal looper is designed for, and that’s what I will use it for, along with practice and songwriting.

With the exception of the needed rollbars for the top knobs, and also the battery lid cover is loose already there is duct tape in this pedals near future already.   Vox could do better than this.   But I am still lovin it.

Runs on six AA batteries.  +   Headphone jack .   ++  Great for practice, no need for headphone amp.

This was a great investment.  Thanks Redwood Music Mart!  Jay, Ian and Skip.

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