Vox VDL1 Dynamic Looper Pedal Review
October 18, 2011
Musicians always have tunes running through our heads. Sometimes though, we may not even know what’s in there until something like the Vox VDL1 Dynamic Looper comes along and lets them out. The VDL1 can unleash creativity in a lot of ways. And though it has the capacity for the simplest forms of looping, it’s also packed with less common looping functionality and effects that can inspire tunes and spice up a performance in unexpected ways.
The VDL1 is built around two built-in effects processors and an expression pedal. It gives you 90 seconds recording time between two independent loops that you can split however you like, with a 10-second minimum. By recording separate phrases for each loop, you can play back either, or both, or variably blend the two and add effects, all with a tap of the foot.
You also can overdub repeatedly, layering phrases onto the loops using Vox’s Sound on Sound technology. Existing phrases can be re-sampled and re-recorded using editable loop effects, including Reverse, Speed, Stutter, Volume and Crossfade. Aside from the ability to layer multiple effects, it also lets you make a loop with a different length than the original.
An internal metronome can be set by either tapping a footswitch or via a knob input, and the Loop Quantize function automatically adjusts the recorded loop to the specified tempo and time signature, which is a great way to tame what can turn into loop tangle very quickly. Recording can be started manually with a footswitch, or with the auto-record feature, which initiates loop recording once you start playing.
Effects like delay, reverb, wah, bass/acoustic simulation, distortion, chorus, and flange can be applied to both inputs. The effects are also editable, which really expands the expressive power of the pedal and effects. The distortions are surprisingly meaty, while the flanger and chorus have considerable depth and can be modified with the expression pedal. The reverbs are realistic, but also enable a lot of cool, sci-fi effects that can radically alter a loop. If you’d rather focus on the loops instead, there are 50 factory presets and 50 user-definable presets you can use.
Good Times on Top of Good Times
On early tests of the pedal, I recorded a single- chord rhythm using a standard distortion pre-effect onto the first loop. Using the synth bass sim, I overdubbed a simple bass line over that phrase on the same loop. On the second loop, I recorded a quick lead riff, then overdubbed another, similar riff, but with about half of it overlapping the first. At that point, I was able to play back the chord and bass loop while using the control pedal with the Volume loop effect to bring the lead riffs in or out of the mix. Switching to the Modulation loop effect, I put a controllable phaser on the lead riffs, which produced a very cool phased wah/voice effect. It takes some practice to get everything to flow just right, but not too much, and the effect of all the loops and effects running together is very cool.
The Reverse, which uses the control pedal to move from regular and reverse play, is a load of fun to experiment with. When the pedal is all the way down, the loop plays normally. With the pedal all the way back, your loop plays in reverse. Various points between the two mix forward and reverse loops, which can sound positively wild.
The VDL1 has several features to make sure you don’t get totally lost in the pedal’s many possibilities—including undo/redo functions for overdubs. But it’s important to keep in mind that once the power is off, the unit is reset. It’s too bad there isn’t removable storage in the form of an SD card, or at least a USB connection to export files.
The VDL1 has a lot of looping power for a compact 10.5" by 9" stompbox. The included effects sound great, the looping/overdubbing ability are impressive, and if you’re familiar with the basics of looping, you’ll be able to navigate the basics with relative ease. Getting started may be frustrating if you’re not familiar with loopers and multi-effects units, but some time learning the ins and outs of the machine will yield a bounty of sounds. The inability to store effects loops is a considerable drawback. But if you’re more interested in what you can accomplish on the fly and the ability to alter your loops drastically from a single unit, the Vox VDL1 Dynamic Looper is a very powerful tool.
you want maximum control over multiple loops/phrases in a live situation.
loop storage is of paramount importance.
Street $249 - Vox Amplification - voxamps.com
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