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Boomerang review



Lots of talk about the Boomerang recently--here's what Guitar Player had 
to say about it:

from Guitar Player, 10/96
The Boomerang Phrase Sampler
by Joe Gore

Not long ago loop-crazed guitarists bled top dollar for discontinued 
devices like the Electro-Harmonix 16-Second Delay or hotrodded Lexicon 
PCM-42s.  Then Lexicon and Oberheim filled the long-delay void with, 
respectively the JamMan and the Echoplex Digital Pro, rack mountable units 
that offer formidable looping features at prices far below those of more 
elaborate signal processors from the like likes of T.C. Electronic and 
Eventide.  The Echoplex is definitely the deeper of the units, though it 
costs almost twice as much as the nifty-in-its-own-right JamMan.  And now 
there’s a third contender: the Boomerang Phrase Sampler.  It may be the 
price/performance winner--if its simplified but stage-friendly features 
fulfill your sampling/looping needs.  (If you’re unclear whether you have 
sampling and looping needs, see last month’s issue [8/96], in which loop 
addict David Torn discusses the technique and analyzes its attendant 
hardware.

First, the Boomerang’s limitations: None of the devices in question 
remembers your loops after power-down, but the Echoplex and JamMan allow 
you to select between multiple loops during recording and playback.  The 
Boomerang is strictly a one-shot device, though it too allows infinite 
overdubs.  Its maximum sample rate is 16kHz, lower than the Lexicon or 
Oberheim, albeit perfectly adequate for most electric guitar applications, 
especially live ones.  The Boomerang lacks spiffy features like the 
Oberheim’s undo operation and ability to craft overdubs longer than the 
initial loop, the Lexicon’s tap-tempo delay, or either device’s MIDI sync 
capabilities.

The Boomerang’s strength is simplicity.  Unlike its two competitors, it’s 
a self contained floor unit--no rack stuff, no remote pedals.  The 
5.5”x17.5” metal housing seems genuinely roadworthy, though the wall-wart 
adaptor is a bummer.  Five sturdy foot switches trigger most functions, 
which are illuminated by big LEDs.  Like the other boxes, you can select 
between infinite looping and single playback.  As on the Oberheim, you can 
reverse any loop (the Lexicon only reverses in single-playback mode).

The Boomerang also does a few tricks neither competitor can boast.  A 
“thru mute” foot switch removes your direct signal form the outputs, so 
you can silently initiate a loop for subsequent unleashing.  With thru 
mute engaged, you can literally create backwards guitar is real time.  A 
half-speed option lets you replay your samples an octave down, or record 
them slow and then shift into double-time--handy for learning and 
transcribing.  (Low speed doubles your total sampling time, but at a 
halved sampling rate--i.e., with noticeable loss of high-end definition.)  
One particularly inspired feature is an output-level “foot roller,” a big 
potentiometer with a textured rubber surface readily regulated by toe.  
You can fade any sample in or out--way smart.

Of the current looper-samplers, the Boomerang is the easiest to use.  If 
you plan to manipulate just one loop at a time and don’t seek pristine 
sonic results when applying the device to sources that withstand 
relatively low sample rates less readily than do electric guitars 
(acoustic guitars, voices, pianos, the sound of wall-warts being hurled 
through plate glass windows), this may be the top pick.  It lists for 
$459, the same as the JamMan.  At that price, the Boomerang offers 30 
seconds of sampling at workable sound quality (60 seconds at lo-fi slow 
speed), as opposed to the JamMan’s superb-sounding eight seconds.  (For 
about $140 more, you can expand to 120/240 seconds.  The JamMan expands to 
32 seconds for about the same price.  The Echoplex delivers 12.5 hi-fi 
seconds at its $879 base price, or 50 seconds for $1,295.)  The Boomerang 
is neither the deepest nor the best-sounding option, but, depending on 
your needs, it may be the smartest one.