• Pros: Multi-track layout, Mix Down track to allow for more complex compositions, quantization features and MIDI control.
• Cons: Lack of footswitches and complex button combinations make live use impossible without the additional footswitch.
• Overall: The Electro-Harmonix 45000 is perfect for bedroom use and the home recording studio, but there are much better options for live players.
The Electro-Harmonix 2880 was a breath of fresh air for many loopers. Its multi-track recorder like design made the entire thing very intuitive, and that same thread of user-friendly design has survived with the updated model. The new Electro-Harmonix 45000 looper looks very similar to the older incarnation, but does it have more to offer? With multi-track looping, a stereo Mix Down track and an included 4GB memory card (good for over two hours of recording), the 45000 could be the next big thing in looping.
Stocked with Features
The 45000 has much of the same features as the older model. The overall layout of the pedal will be instantly recognizable to anybody who used the 2880, with seven slider controls in the center, a collection of dials above them and several buttons to either side. The first thing a looper will probably notice is the deficit of footswitches – for that you’ll need the 45000 foot controller. This is also the only way you’ll get a display screen for the 45000.
The multi-track functionality of the Electro-Harmonix 45000 is realistically its main feature, and the entire thing is lifted pretty much straight from the older model. There are four main tracks and one stereo Mix Down track. The main tracks can each support loops and overdubs, and you can choose to record in mono (one track per loop) or stereo (two tracks per loop). The Mix Down track lets you free up each track by combining their recordings into one slot. You lose individual control over the loops, but it allows you to record even more separate tracks. In short, your compositions can get very complex, like a dense sonic web. Plus, once you’ve recorded another four tracks, you can over-dub onto the Mix Down track!
Using the Electro-Harmonix 45000 is pretty straightforward, but the lack of the familiar record/play/overdub control makes things more difficult. After plugging in and setting your input and output levels, you hit the “New Loop” button to set the unit into record-ready mode. Hit “Record” to start and then hit it again to stop recording. You can press “Play” to set the loop to playback, automatically start recording onto track two and start overdubbing. “New Loop” simply sets the recording to play back. To overdub, select the track you want to record onto using the “Track Select” button and then press “Record.”
Quantization and a click track help you stay in time on the 45000. The metronome – called the Clix track – is adjusted using a dedicated slider control and volume dial, and can be routed out to your headphones too. The Quantize feature (which has a name-sake button, of course) basically works to keep your loop in time with this click track. Experienced loopers know that a split-second mistake can punish you if you aren’t used to stopping in time, and this feature solves the problem. Plus, you can speed up or slow down your loops after they’ve been recorded by adjusting the metronome slider. You can play in “free-form” mode if you want full control over timing (like traditional loopers).
Some familiar features are back on the 45000, including reverse playback, punch-in punch-out recording (for correcting mistakes in your loops) and the Octave function for reducing the pitch and the tempo at the same time. Although reverse playback is a cool feature to include, it’s a little useless for most players. Reversing a loop usually makes your guitar signal sound like its being dragged kicking and screaming through time itself. Yes, you can use it for ambient sounds, but if there was a choice between reverse and undo/redo I know which one I’d choose. The punch in feature is useful for mistakes, but undoing and redoing offers much more flexibility.
The 45000 has twin 1/4 inch inputs and outputs, an auxiliary input for use with MP3 players and a dedicated output for a stage monitor. A Dry Out slider gives you control over the output volume too, so from an audio standpoint live use is entirely possible. There’s a headphone jack, a slot for the foot controller and a MIDI in and out. Most of the controls on the pedal can be operated via MIDI, and it can work as a Master or Slave unit. You can connect to a computer via USB to back up your files or import new audio onto the pedal.
Is it Worth it?
The main problem with the Electro-Harmonix 45000 is that it’s built more for recording than live use. For one, there is no display screen, and selecting one of the 100 loop locations on the unit itself requires an off-label button combo. The button combinations themselves make looping in front of an audience an experience akin to tap-dancing with your fingers whilst being scrutinized from all directions. The only difference is that a single misstep or forgotten button press could grind your entire performance to a halt.
If you’re going to use it live, you have to buy the additional 45000 Foot Controller. With that attachment included, there is very little to complain about. The punch-in style of correcting mistakes isn’t ideal, but it works well when combined with the multi-track element of the pedal. The punch-in correction allows you to erase any mistakes and the multi-track makes it easy to bring different loops into the mix at will.
Don’t expect massive improvements over the 2880 here. The memory may have been expanded, but aside from this the benefits of the 45000 are pretty limited. The navigation issues prevent live use if you don’t want to buy the additional pedal, but for bedroom loopers and those interested in recording it has plenty to offer. The multi-track recorder layout will put many musicians right at home, and there are ample options for getting creative with your compositions.