• Pros: The TC Electronic Ditto Looper is simplistic in design and operation, tiny in comparison to other loopers and affordable.
• Cons: Missing features such as rhythm backing and quantization, and lack of pedals could be a detriment in some situations.
• Overall: The Ditto Looper is great if you’re looking for simplicity and affordability, but if you’re serious about looping you’ll soon come to wish there were more features.
When you’re shopping around for loopers, you’ll become accustomed to seeing models with as many dials as the interior of a space shuttle and more pedals than Rick Allen’s drum kit. In that respect, the TC Electronic Ditto Looper is a breath of fresh air. It features only one dial and one footswitch, stripping down the overly techy looper layout to its bare minimum functions. You might be worried about lost functionality, but the low price still makes it an extremely appealing option. But can it really compare to the technological might of the other loopers on the market with such a simplistic setup?
The Features You Need and Nothing Else
The entire philosophy of the TC Electronic Ditto is simplicity. Instead of cramming hundreds of save locations, a megaton of features and a cacophony of controls into their looper, their aim is to make something eminently user-friendly. In terms of appearance, at least, it completely fulfils that objective. The pedal is only a measly 3 5/8” by 1 5/8” in size, with one clearly labeled dial, one multi-function button, an input jack, an output, a mini USB port and a port for the power supply. It’s hard to imagine a pedal more basic.
This is actually one of the core features of the pedal. It’s tempting to describe it as a stompbox-style looper, but that would be over-estimating its size considerably. It’s as small as anything you’d realistically include on your pedalboard, which means as long as you aren’t at maximum capacity it will slot in nicely.
Ease of use goes hand-in-hand with this minimalistic design. After plugging it in, you’re ready to start looping. You hit the footswitch (the only one, so no confusion there!) and start playing. When you’ve recorded your phrase, give the footswitch another tap and it will replay on a loop. You can adjust the volume of the playback using the only dial on the Ditto Looper. To overdub, you simply repeat the record procedure– tap, play and tap again. If you want to stop, you just double-tap the footswitch, and you can give it another tap to start it playing again. Stopping and deleting is as simple as double-tapping but holding your foot down the second time. All this with just one footswitch.
Although you can’t store multiple loops to call up later, they’ve made sure you get plenty of looping time. You can record a loop of up to five minutes in length (which will only be necessary if you’re intended song is nothing short of epic) and it allows for as many overdubs as you like. Plus, if you record something awesome and want to toy with it again another time, you just turn the unit off without deleting the loop and it will still be there when you power back up, overdubs and all.
If you’re thinking the basic package could only possible offer this core functionality, you’d be wrong. You also get the option of undoing or redoing your previous recording, which opens up new realms of sonic possibilities. By holding the footswitch down for around two seconds, you undo the previously recorded overdub. On face value, this allows you to erase any mistake you made without having to start the whole thing again, but there’s more to it than that. If you’ve built up a good backing for your song but want to add an extra element on some occasions (a melody-line or a lick in the background, for example), then you can remove it and put it back in place at will. You could even record the first half of a solo, play it back and harmonize with it for the second half, and then remove it for the next verse. Plus, if you want to bring it back again, you can do it easily.
Finally, they’ve ensured that the Ditto Looper doesn’t interfere with your signal in any way when it isn’t in use. It has a true bypass mode – which basically means your tone goes through completely unaffected – that activates whenever you delete your loop. There’s no hum, no latency, nothing at all.
Can it Really Compete?
You shouldn’t think of the TC Electronic Ditto Looper to be in direct competition with the monsters of the looping industry like the Digitech JamMan Delay or the Boss RC-300 Loop Station, because the entire aim is to make something that performs the functions you need and nothing else. If you’ve always been unsure about loopers because of the apparent technical expertise you need to use one effectively, the TC Electronic Ditto Looper calms your fears on first glance. The operation is extremely easy once you get used to the tap combinations. It isn’t up against the big boys; it’s designed for the first-time looper or somebody who doesn’t care about all of the extras.
However, it is realistically still in competition with the simplistic units like the Boss RC-3, the JamMan Solo, or the Jamman Solo XT, and unfortunately it comes out on the bottom if you look at things objectively. Simplicity is great, but when you’re making a dedicated looper there are some things that really are quite useful. The main one of these is memory. Whilst you might not need to store more than one loop at a time, there are plenty of options which are similarly easy to use and yet allow you to have around 100 stored loops.
Other options also feature things like quantization (to help you stay in time) and rhythm backing (so you don’t have to make a beat using percussive strumming). Maybe you’d only miss the ability to reverse your loop if you wanted to create something pretty unusual, but accompaniment and help staying in time are extremely valuable. Plus, it some ways it’s useful to have a dedicated pedal for things like stopping/clearing; it might make things look more confusing but it reduces the amount of tap-combinations you have to recall during a performance.
UPDATE: If you are looking for additional features, it may be worth checking out the Ditto X2 looper (released in 2014), which adds a dedicated “Stop” footswitch, or even the much larger Ditto X4 looper (released in 2016), which is basically two Ditto loopers stuck together with MIDI synch and some fun effects.
The Ditto Looper offers more than you’d expect for such a tiny, unassuming looper, but if you’re really looking to do some creative looping it may be a little too basic. In the name of stripping things down to basics, they’ve lost out on some potentially valuable additions, and the lack of memory is crippling if you want to create a set-list. However, if you’re looking for a basic looper to use on-the-fly, the ease of operation and the price makes it a great option.