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RE: Boomerang and Akai "Riff-o-matic"
I don't have a Boomerang, but I have an Akai "Riff-o-Matic" U40 sampler.
It now sells for around $149 (typical mail-order price), which is 1/3
the price of the Boomerang. I love this thing. I chose it over
everything else because of features and price. The thing that sets it
apart is the loop-within-main loop feature. (Read #6 and #7.) After
you record a solo (up to 27 seconds), you can use the built-in features
1. All of the buttons are dedicated to only one function. No hidden
levels or multi-function buttons to make you constantly refer to an
2. 27 seconds will record enough material to keep a person busy for
hours or days. More would be nice, but is not necessary. Incidentally,
this 27 seconds is for "extended mode", having lower audio frequency
response. "Regular mode" is 13.5 seconds. I find that this lower
frequency response of the "extended mode" makes little or no difference
when learning riffs.
3. Incrementally lower or raise the pitch in semi-tones AND fine
increments, so you don't have to retune your instrument if you happen to
be slightly off pitch from the original material.
4. When the memory gets full, the machine will automatically switch
from RECORD mode to PLAYBACK mode, and begin playing back. It will play
the loop over and over until you push the PLAY/STOP button.
5. The full speed playback is nice quality audio. When you go to 1/3
or 1/2 speed, however, the playback quality has stange artifacts in it
as a result of digital processing. However, these slowdown modes are
very useful, allowing the musician to pick out difficult speedy
passages. Even though the slowed-down modes sound strange, you can
still pick out the notes, which is the important thing.
6. The neatest thing is the LOOP mode. This isolates a minor loop
passage within the major loop that has been recorded. When I learn
songs or solos off of others' work, I personally tend to learn them in
convenient chunks. By pushing the "LOOP START" button where you want to
start and the "LOOP STOP" button at the end of the passage, this minor
"loop within loop" will play over and over until you clear it by
pressing "START" and "STOP" buttons simultaneously. You can make the
loop as short or as long as you want. This feature speeds up learning
greatly, because it lets you focus on the very tough parts. When you
finish with one passage, you can replay the major loop and re-isolate a
new minor loop. This way, you incrementally work your way through a
7. Furthermore, there is a NOTE GRABBER button which freezes a short
burst of time (about 2 to 4 tenths of a second) and plays it over and
over. You then use the UP/DOWN buttons to move back and forth in time to
precisely grab notes which go by so fast that they are hard to pick
out, even at 1/2 speed. This I find invaluable for things like fast
chord changes (hearing a brief chord burst over and over lets you
dissect it) and arpeggios, etc.
These last two features are what made me decide on this particular
phrase sampler. These are the meat of this sampler, and sets it apart.
They cut learning time by 50-90 percent, I would estimate. I WOULD
RECOMMEND NOT BUYING ANY SAMPLER THAT DOESN'T HAVE THESE TWO FEATURES!
The first thing I did when I got mine was to learn Doc Watson's "Black
Mountain Rag" in a few hours. It would have taken days without the
8. Self-contained. I can use it with a jam box or with my main stereo.
I don't have to drag myself to a computer do figure out solos.
This machine was obviously designed by someone who learns a lot of
solos, and wanted to be able to focus in on the most difficult parts
easily and quickly. It's a lot like using a good word-processor.
Disadvantages: The main thing is the digital artifacts at 1/2 and 1/3
speed, although this doesn't actually get in the way of picking out the
information. The artifacts sound like "clicks". I wish that the memory
was non-volatile. This is a minor inconvenience. Also it would be nice
to be able to store 10 or so samples in non-volatile memory, but this
would probably place the unit in a considerably higher price bracket.
From: Pat Moore [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Tuesday, July 21, 1998 8:53 PM
First post to this fine list. I'm looking for some opinions on the
Boomerang Phrase Sampler, especially in regards to its features and ease
of use. Also any comparison to other loopers, like the JamMan or
Digital Echoplex, would be appreciated. I'm considering this product
becasue it would be easier on the pocket-book and also has a built-in
Thanks in advance,