[review] DigiTech JamMan Express XT (by LievenDV)

LievenDV is a reverb nut and enjoys discovering innovating technology. Besides that he's a singer-songwriter; solo and in a band.

Simple but elegant

DigiTech are known for their affordable pedals stuffed with different sounds, models and options. This pedal one features one big control knob for the most obvious function: level. The footswitch has several functions, depending on the mode you're in. Three very straightforward leds remind you what mode you're in and when your loop is running, overdubbing or is being deleted.

This looper has a true stereo in/out but is also usable in mono mode. It comes with a fresh battery but it can be powered by a classic Boss-like 9v psu. It comes in a sturdy housing, with a quality knob and footswitch. It's a digital pedal; it works at a data width of 24-bit with a 44.1 kHz sample rate. The footswitch doesn't click, so don't worry about clicking noises on stage if you're more of an intimate or acoustic performer.

You'll see 3 clear leds, being colored red, yellow and green, representing record, overdub and play. It only takes about 5 minutes to get a hang of this pedal and to prove that you could try the following example. The pedal has the size of a standard pedal and comes in a retro-styled box that could look like your fathers cologne or your grandma's soap box.

DigiTech JamMan Express XTGet playing!

On stage you don't want to be messing around with your looper and when you've got a sheer stroke of genius at home, you don't want to waste your inspiration on getting your looper to work. This is how it works. Press the footswitch once and you start to record. You play and you press it to stop. You hear your loop starting and repeating all over. You can jam over it all you like but inexperienced as you are with loopers, you hear that you made a mistake. Now press and hold the switch and your loop is gone. Now try that again. You decide to play a basic chord progression.

This time, your loop works nice as you hear it looping the same part over and over again. Now you want to dub some soloing over your chord progression. Press the button once and start jamming, your overdub is being recorded and press again to stop. You instantly hear the product of your mastermind blasting through your amp and you hear that it is just what you imagined. Good job.

Why don't you try to add a little decoration to your masterpiece with some harmonics higher up the fretboard? You try a second overdub by pressing the button and you stop by pressing it again. You hear your original chord progression, the first solo and your harmonic decorations looping.

This pedal features an unlimited number of overdubs with an undo+redo history of 1 overdub. By this I mean that you can undo 1 overdub, just by trouble tapping the button. The previous overdubs are recorded permanently in the loop. If you removed the latest overdub but you decide to keep it anyway, you can redo. At this point you could undo and redo the harmonics part but the soloing you recorded earlier, is embedded in the loop forever until you delete everything.

JamSyncDigiTech JamMan Express XT

This pedal houses a cool feature that is less obvious than its basic layout. DigiTech calls it "JamSync". If you have several of these pedals, you can chain them together and create a multi instrument sequencer that works with different lengths of loops. For example, if you enjoy playing bass lines for you own jams, you could hook up a second JamMan Express XT (or a JamMan solo XT) with a stereo 1/8" cable and plug in your bass. No need for switching cables and instruments. One pedal becomes the master and your other(s) becomes slaves while you control them through the master. The manual even plots out an example of how this could work with more people using 2 units.

My take on this pedal?

This affordable looper has very basic functions and is easy to use. Although I prefer 2 buttons on my looper for separate play/stop and overdub functions, this one makes that up by its simplicity. This pedal is also an excellent scalable tool for looping enthusiasts who want to experiment with the JamSync functions or at separate stages in their effects chain. The clear leads and big level button ensure you won't have any doubt on what you are doing on stage and therefore this is a fine tool for live performers. The double tap takes a little getting used to but once you get the hang of it, it shouldn't bother you too much. Don't worry about noise; loops and overdubs are seamlessly recorded and don't leave unwanted hum or crackles. As complexity goes, I would put this pedal in between the TC Electronic Ditto looper and the compact sized Boss RC loopers.

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