Among looping pedals these days, the trend is toward plug-and-play designs within a small footprint. Nevertheless, Electro-Harmonix bucks this trend with the 22500, a sophisticated 2-track stereo looper that accepts instrument-, line-, and most notably, mic-level input, in a case the size of two standard stompboxes. Its XLR input (left-channel only) offers phantom power and +27 dB of gain—great for dynamic or condenser mics.
The Electro-Harmonix 22500 is a feature-rich looper that accepts line-, instrument-, and mic-level signals. The pedal records to an SDHC memory card and comes with the required 9V power adapter. The 22500 stores its CD-quality (16-bit/44.1kHz) files on an SDHC card, and the included 8GB card can capture 12 hours of audio (4GB to 32GB cards are supported). A USB port is included for file transfers.
Both Loop A and Loop B have a footswitch, output control, Reverse and Octave (playback speed) buttons, and undo/redo. Loops can be quantized at one of several time divisions, locked to each other, or rhythmically independent, and the tracks can be set to play sequentially or simultaneously. When you reverse or change the octave of a loop, it eventually loses sync with the clock in the quantized modes (noticeable when you return to the original direction and speed). Simply toggle the loop on and off and it will re-sync at the next bar line.
The 22500 also offers a 1-shot mode and auto-trigger looping that begins recording when the unit detects an input signal. You can even put the pedal to work as a digital delay.
The pedal stores 100 banks of loops on its SD card, and each bank holds two loops. The optional foot controller ($87 street) is used for stepping through the banks and is a worthwhile addition. Loop playback stops when you switch banks.
You can also change the overall tempo of your loops, manually or via tap tempo, without altering pitch. However, this time compression/expansion creates vibrato-like artifacts, although the looped audio, itself, sounds decent, even with extreme tempo changes. If you overdub onto a loop when the tempo is altered, you get the same artifacts with the new loop until you return to your initial tempo.
To help you with timing, the 22500 can play rhythm tracks; 16 are provided (including a metronome). The tracks are useful for jamming, practicing, or songwriting, and you can load up to 100 of your own rhythm loops on the SDHC card. In contrast to the real-time loops, the pitch of the rhythm files raises and lowers as you increase or decrease the tempo, respectively. Moreover, the beat stops when changing rhythm tracks.
Of course, with all this power comes responsibility: Be prepared to read the manual. The 22500 offers so many options with so few controls, you need to learn the intricacies of its interface before you can start using it. Fortunately, the manual is easy to follow: I figured out the 22500’s main features in about 30 minutes. With a bit more practice, I was moving easily between free-form, loop-locked, and 1-shot modes.
The 22500 is for musicians who are serious about looping, and it does much more than any other pedal at this price. Although it’s suitable for use in a pedalboard, you’ll need to use your hands and your feet if you want to take full advantage of all the cool stuff the 22500 can do.
Two stereo tracks. Phantom-powered mic input. Reverse. Octave. Plays rhythm tracks. SDHC card and USB.
Significant learning curve. Time compression/ expansion artifacts. No external clock input. Loops stop when switching banks. Rhythm track stops when changing patterns.