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Pigtronix Infinity Looper

January 30, 2014
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LOOPERS HAVE BEEN GAINING IN POPULARITY for at least a decade, and manufacturers have responded with scores of products ranging from micro-pedals to large-footprint superloopers to high-end rackmounted units (not to mention software loopers). These products fall roughly into two categories: those that facilitate prerecording loops to serve as backing tracks either live or for practice (typically with plentiful memory slots), and those that focus more on features of interest to “live looping” artists that tend to record loops on the fly and want as much realtime creative flexibility as possible. The Infinity Looper falls firmly into the latter category, though with a few nods to the former.

Nerdy stuff first. As with all Pigtronix products, the Infinity sports exceptional specs and a few fresh ideas, courtesy of celebrated analog circuit designer Howard Davis, DSP guru Roy Heasman, and sonic mastermind David Koltai. The pedal records stereo audio at 24-bit/48kHz in the WAV format, and the pedal’s powerful DSP dramatically reduces response time—something critical in a looping pedal. The Infinity comes loaded with an 8GB microSD memory card mounted inside the pedal, which yields two hours of total recording time, but those who prefer their loops super long can install cards with up to 32GB of memory (do the math). Minimum loop recording time is 2.5 seconds. Loops may be saved to any of nine Presets (internal memory locations), and also transferred to and from (in nearly any audio file format) a computer via a micro-USB jack (cable included). The Infinity is also one of the only loopers with analog pass through, meaning only the looped audio passes through the converter.

At the heart of the Infinity are two independent stereo loopers—labeled Loop 1 and Loop 2—each of which has its own footswitch and Volume control. The two loops may be configured to run in parallel, serially, and even discretely. In Parallel mode they run simultaneously, and in Serial mode they run one at a time, so you can switch between them to create, say, verse/chorus song arrangements. Further, parallel loops may run freely (unsynchronized) or synchronized using Sync Multi, which gives you the option of making Loop 2 the same length as Loop 1 or a multiple (x2, x3, x4, or x6) of that length. Rather than determining what that multiple will be in realtime by closing the loop manually, however, you preselect a multiple before you begin (though if you select x6, for example, you can close the loop anytime before the sixth iteration). Finally, engaging Split Input configures the two loopers as discrete mono devices with their own inputs, allowing you to loop two instruments or other sources simultaneously.

The Infinity’s footswitches function pretty much like you’d expect. Pressing Loop 1 Play/ Rec/Dub initiates recording, pressing it again closes the loop and starts playback, and pressing it again opens the loop back up for overdubbing. Ditto Loop 2 Play/Rec/Dub, except that Loop 2 is only active once Loop 1 has been recorded. The Stop footswitch may be set to operate in one of three modes: Full (audio stops immediately), Trail (audio stops at the end of the loop cycle), and Fade (audio fades until the end of the loop cycle). Additionally, in All mode both loops are affected by the Stop footswitch simultaneously, whereas in Arm mode only the currently selected (Armed) loop will be affected. There’s also an Undo/Redo function, but you’ll need an optional external footswitch to use it. Connecting an optional expression pedal gives you control over loop output volume or regeneration (“Loop Aging”), enabling faux Eno-style tape-looping sounds.

As if that weren’t enough functionality to pack into a pedal, the Infinity has a MIDI input, allowing it to slave to incoming MIDI Clock from a DAW, sequencer, etc., and it can also be set to respond to MIDI Start, Stop, and Song Select commands (the latter selects one of the nine Presets). Finally, an Aux Out jack outputs just the looped audio in mono, which is a very nice touch indeed.

Oh, did I say “finally”? One of the great things about the Infinity is that its firmware can be easily updated via USB and the Infinity Looper Application that resides onboard the pedal. The latest update adds a Reverse function, the ability to go directly from recording the base layer into overdub mode, and four other cool new switching functions that are described on the Infinity Looper Blog found on the Pigtronix website.

Choosing a looping pedal is both a matter of deciding which features you need to do your thing, and what feels right, as feel is a huge part of performance with a looper. The Infinity offers all of the standard features you’d expect from a looping pedal in its price range (other than halfspeed, which is almost de rigueur at this point, though Pigtronix says that it will be added in a firmware update) and several that are unique to it.

After spending some quality time with the Infinity I found many things to like about it, not least of all that the audio quality is superb, and that the 24-bit/48kHz WAV format happens to be what I use in Pro Tools, so the loops integrate into my projects without the need of conversion. I also liked the way the Infinity synched to Pro Tools’ sequencer without any hassles, and that if I wanted to incorporate it into my live rig I could control its essential functions with MIDI. And, as someone who incorporates live looping into performances with a band, I cannot overstate the significance of the Aux Out. My current rig includes a small mixer used to send a loop-only feed to the floor monitors and the drummer’s headset— so having that built into the pedal is a major plus.

In terms of feel, the Infinity reacts very quickly when you stomp on the footswitches, and the switches themselves are arranged in a logical and uncrowded way. The soft touch momentary switches are a little noisier mechanically than those on some other loopers (a potential issue around live microphones in the studio and during quieter gigs), but are ruggedly constructed, feel good underfoot, and are super-responsive.

The Infinity offers a unique take on looping pedals, and makes a very welcome addition to field of choices, especially for the live-looping crowd. If it isn’t already on your list of loopers to check out, it should be.

Kudos Superb audio quality. Ultra-flexible. Looponly Aux Out.
Concerns Undo/Redo and Reverse functions require external footswitch.
Price $599 retail /$449 street
Contact Pigtronix, (631) 331-7447; pigtronix.com

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