Electro-Harmonix 95000 Performance Loop Laboratory
By Chris Loeffler |
Electro-Harmonix 95000 Performance Loop Laboratory
Will this pedal leave you loopy?
by Chris Loeffler
Before we even dive into the unit, it’s worth noting the Electro-Harmonix 95000 Performance Loop Laboratory won Best in Show at the 2018 Winter NAMM show. The feature-rich but surprisingly compact aluminum-chassis pedal records up to 375 minutes and 100 loops and has a wide range of essential looper features including two-octave speed adjustment, overdubbing and reverse playback. The EHX 95000 looper ships with a 16GB microSDHC card (can take an optional 32GB card), features six tracks plus a seventh mixdown track, stereo XLR and ¼” inputs (48v phantom power provided for applicable mics), stereo ¼”, monitor, and heaphone outputs, and runs on a standard Boss-style 9v adaptor (a wall wart is included).
What You Need to Know
The Electro-Harmonix 95000 features a single Clip input control shared across both stereo inputs and allows for stereo panning and mix volume for all six tracks. Dry signal is passed through Left and Right tracks as well and features independent panning and fading. There is a click track (CLIX) for those who want a count in when using pre-recorded background track controlled by a tempo slider or via tap tempo.
Loop selection is handled via Next/Previous loop stomp switches, and the LED display will show you the BPM and selected loop. Pressing the Record footswitch begins recording on the selected loop, and the LED display switches to show the progression of the loop in bars and beats. Once a loop is completed, you can step on Play to immediately go into overdub mode to record a new part on the subsequent loop, or Record to stop the recording and immediately begin playing the beginning of the recorded loop. You can also record overdubs on the same track by selecting the already recorded track again and hitting Record. Recording in stereo (two tracks simultaneously) follows the same process, with each side being assigned to a track beforehand.
To undo a track, simply push the UNDO footswitch and the last recorded action will be dropped. To entirely erase a track, hold the appropriate track footswitch down for three seconds and it will stop and erase the track. Nearly identical actions are followed to erase an entire loop. It’s worth noting that erasing a track can be undone but erasing a loop cannot.
Loops in the EHX 95000 can be recorded in quantize or normal modes. Normal modes create the loop to the exact duration between the Record button is engaged and when the recording is stopped (either by stomping on REC or PLAY). This is the standard version of looping for most people and has the disadvantage of only being as “on” the beat as the rhythm and stomp-savviness of the player but the advantage of allowing for odd-tempo and time signature loops. In quantize mode, the looper intelligently counts out the beats of what’s being recorded
Tracks can be mixed down to the stereo mixdown rack at any time by pressing the MIXDOWN button. At this point, the tracks begin playing and any final panning or volume adjustments can be made. The stereo mixdown is a final track that can’t be remixed, so it’s worth noting that you can’t undo mixes from that file, but luckily the Electro-Harmonix 95000 does maintain the tracks as discrete files, so you could drop the raw tracks into our favorite mixing software if you want to continue to be able to tweak volume and pan of individual tracks in post.
The monitoring controls and outputs are incredibly helpful in that they are independent from the main outputs and can therefore be used as a true monitoring tool for the click track, headphones, and dry outputs.
The Octave function is accessible via a push button and will half the speed of the recorded track (and entire loop) while dropping the audio a full octave. The Tempo slider can be used to adjust the pitch by semi-tone in ½ step increments with the corresponding tempo adjustment. Octaves can be dropped a whole step (half time) or raised a whole step (double time).
The reverse function doesn’t alter the tempo or loop length but does entirely reverse the audio on the entire loop, starting with the last note played and reverse-playing to end the loop on the first note. Reverse is a global function, so all tracks are flip-flopped when it is activated. It is possible to record a straight track on track one, put the looper in reverse, record a straight track on track two, and then hit reverse again to have the first track play in sequence and the second track in reverse, but unfortunately it isn’t possible to flip individual tracks without effecting the other tracks, so some planning is required when you intend to use multiple layered tracks with different directions of audio.
There are 20 included factory drum loops courtesy of studio drummer Hans Eijkenaar, all of which are authentic enough to not be distracting but characterless enough to not clash with whatever you put against it. Beats run the gamut from straight-ahead 4/4 rock beats to 6/8 rhythms and hip hop inspired percussion. While none of these will likely show up on a professional album soon, their sound quality and utility ensure users are street-ready for one-man shows without missing the beat.
MIDI works as it should, although there is a quirk that you need a trigger to start a loop from you’re master MIDI controller.
The first track in a loop dictates the length of the entire loop, meaning if the first track you lay down is twelve bars, that is the maximum length the loop will run. While this is an edge case that won’t impact traditional music arrangement, ambient-chaos performers seeking the ability to loop different lengths of tracks for additional randomness will have to get tricky and think ahead.
Audio recording quality is 16-bit, 44.1 kHz. While enough tests exist to suggest that difference between 16-bit and 24-bit audio quality isn’t perceptible to most sound geeks even through a high-quality sound system and even the difference between 44.1 kHz and 176.4 kHz is at most a benefit for headroom and dynamic in high-resolution mixing, number snobs should take note.
The 95000 doesn’t feature XLR outputs.
The Electro-Harmonix 95000 Performance Loop Laboratory meets or beats the looping competition in nearly every feature, with an intuitive user interface and immediate tactile access to nearly all its features. Essentially a six-track mixer in pedal form, the inclusion of MIDI syncing means it’s ready to plug in with the most high-end rack gear, and there is an entire world of backing tracks to explore for beefing up live performances with pre-recorded pieces. The biggest differentiator between the 95000 PLL and loopers at a similar price point is that nearly everything a player could want to do is accessible through controls on the until itself rather than menu diving for deep features. As performance looping continues to evolve and expand, its nice to see manufacturers can keep up with increased features and flexibility without sacrificing ease of use. -HC-
Buy Electro-Harmonix 95000 Performance Loop Laboratory at Full Compass (MRSP $733.30, Street $550.00)
Chris Loeffler is a multi-instrumentalist and the Content Strategist of Harmony Central. In addition to his ten years experience as an online guitar merchandiser, marketing strategist, and community director he has worked as an international exporter, website consultant and brand manager. When he’s not working he can be found playing music, geeking out on guitar pedals and amps, and brewing tasty beer.