December 14, 2020

Maneco Minilooper lo-fi delay/looper.

A review and how-to.

Is it a short, one-pass, 60-second looper or a long 60-second delay? This slightly-oversize, lo-fi pedal uses the same circuit to do either. While very basic in operation, it has useful features like reverse and pitch shifting, typically found on more complex loopers.

Minilooper as a one-pass looper.

A one-pass looper just loops one layer. The idea is that you can lay down a rhythm track and solo overtop of it live. The advantage over a standard looper is that there’s no fancy footwork involved. Since it’s one pass, there’s no undo or redo, not even a delete function necessary. You just tap Rec to record and tap it again to play. For live performance, it’s a looper that doesn’t require overthinking.

Infinity mode on the Minilooper is the looper mode. It can record up to 60 seconds, but the audio can get unstable and unpredictable, which is kinda fun. Throw the Reverse switch and the loop plays backward. Turn the Time knob and the loop pitch goes up or down as much as two octaves. It’s a handy tool for composing and live work.

Maneco Minilooper loop tricks.

  • Though the Minilooper does two octaves, noon on the Time knob is not the center frequency. In order to speed up or slow an octave in either direction, record with the Time knob at 2p.
  • To get a two-octave shift, record with the Time knob at 7a or 5p.
  • To create a half-speed bass loop: set the Time knob to 5p and play twice as fast when you record. Then turn the Time knob to 12n to lower the pitch and speed an octave.
  • It’s inconvenient to do, but changing the Time knob while recording a loop will warp the pitch. Note that the Time knob affects pitch the opposite way: Turning the Time clockwise while recording will decrease the pitch.
  • Since the loop is always playing, to get silence before recording a loop, just tap Rec twice without playing before you start and you’ll get a short loop of silence.
  • To get precisely an octave down, record the loop just past noon on the Time knob. Then play the loop back at about 7a. For an octave up, record with the Time knob just before noon and play it back at about 5p. This allows a little wiggle room for tuning.
  • Set the Time knob to 5p and record at 4x speed. Play it back with the Time knob at 7a. This creates a rumbling Bass line. Even more ominous if you play it in reverse.
  • The Time knob affects affects recording quality. For best quality record at 5p. For lower fidelity, record at 7a.

Eliminating the pop from the loop.

In Infinite mode there can be a pop at the seam of the loop. Here are a few ways to avoid it?

  • Record the loop with Infinite off and flick it on immediately after you stop recording the loop. If you wait too long there could be a shift in volume and quality when you shift into Infinite.
  • Record the loop with Infinite on and the pedal bypassed. Then tap the bypass footswitch to start playing.

Minilooper as a conventional delay.

When the Infinite toggle is off, Minilooper can work in the standard delay range: as short as a second or less. The length of the delay is set with tap tempo and can get as short as you can tap twice on the Rec footswitch. The expected knobs for Feedback and Blend are there, but no modulation control. Minilooper’s repeats degrade beautifully, crumbling the tonal data (especially in the bass) into grit. The crummy repeats can lay back in the mix nicely, letting the dry come through.

Maneco Minilooper delay tricks.

  • For a really short delay. Set the Time knob to 7a, double tap, then turn up the Time knob to 5p. The delay will be four times as fast.
  • For better recording quality set your tempo to four times as long (so tap out four seconds for a one-second delay) with the the Time knob at 7a. Then turn the Time knob to 5p.
  • Since the Reverse switch is manual, on short delays it sounds best when you have the feedback almost to self-oscillation.

Frippertronics on Minilooper.

The only real difference between using Minilooper as a conventional delay and a Frippertronics delay is the length of time you set the delay for and the amount of feedback. Long, crumbly, lo-fi delays are Minilooper’s superpower. Original Frippertronics were about 3-6 seconds long. Minilooper can go to 60 seconds. By setting the Feedback knob to between 2-3p the previous layers in the memory will slowly crumble away.

Maneco Minilooper Frippertronics tricks.

  • With most delays that can do Frippertronics (sound-on-sound), the effect creates its own presence or “soup” in the repeats. This is made up of the layers of additive noise and artifacts of the signal dissolving away and is most obvious on really long delays. Minilooper seems almost subtractive or gated in how it layers, so and minimizes background noise. Following Minilooper with an ambient reverb can help fill out the soup.
  • Try isolated riffs with dead spots in a 30-second delay and keep adding riffs.
  • Input volume has an effect on the threshold of runaway feedback. Sometimes loud sounds can trigger self-oscillation while quieter sounds don’t even get a noticeable repeat. With experience, you can use this a creative tool to get loud percussive strikes to repeat longer while subtler strikes fade quickly.

Minilooper as a stutter pedal.

The sounds can be unpredictable from freeze-like to tingy. But when run through an ambient reverb the stutter can create some fascinating pads.

Minilooper stutter tricks.

  • In both Infinity and Reverse mode strike the note or chord to be frozen > Double tap the Rec footswitch. The loop snippet will play in a choppy reverse. Sounds smoothest when you capture a short snippet of sustain.
  • Wait a second after striking the note or chord before hitting the footswitch and you’ll get a mellowed stutter.
  • Setting the Blend knob to 5p will kill the dry for a bolder stutter.
  • I really like running this into a granular reverb like the Pladask Draume. This can add some unpredictability to the constant stutter.

Minilooper shift tricks.

A really useful function of Minilooper is that it can shift between one pass looper and delay live. So you can freeze the status of the delay to repeat or add new audio to a loop and then lock it again.

  • Corrupting a loop To degrade a loop from infinity mode, start with the feedback knob is at unity and flip out of Infinity mode without playing anything. The loop will slowly crumble. Lock Infinite again when it’s at a state of decay where you like it.
    • You can lower the recording quality by recording the original loop with the time set at 5p, then set to 7a for playback, then throw the Infinity off for a few loops and then throw it back on.
    • You can add distortion to a loop by disengaging Infinity, turning up the Feedback knob to 5p for a few passes until it’s loud and distorted, then turning it down to 1p for a few passes to bring the level down to normal.
  • Reverse toggle Toggle into Reverse and long delay layers in the buffer are played backward. When not in Infinity mode, you can lay down more forward laters overtop. Then if you toggle out of Reverse, the old layers will be forward again and your new lawyers will now be in reverse. Confused? Just throw the Reverse toggle after you lay down each long delay layer to get a combined forward/backward motion.
  • Time knob This temporarily changes the pitch of the delay buffer, but permanently warps repeats and new audio recorded while the knob is being moved.

The Minilooper is no longer in production as a pedal, but is available as a Eurorack module. You might also look into the [Maneco Sweet 16 pedal]( “Link to the official Maneco Sweet 16 Delay page), a re-creation of the EHX 16-Second Delay. All the same function as the Minilooper plus modulation.

My take.

In ways, the lo-fi-nature and primitive controls make the Maneco Minilooper feels like an audio toy: something to be played with and enjoyed incessantly as opposed to an intimidating looper you might not use much because it requires a lot of thought. Go ahead: Tap the Rec/Tap footswitch to set a long delay. Make sure the Feedback knob is almost at unity. Mess with the Time knob and Reverse switch. And when you have something you like, throw the Infinite switch and just listen.

This review is not paid for by Maneco. It’s provided free, with no ads. I really appreciate the generousity of those who’ve find it useful and buy me a coffee below.

Why buy me a coffee? No third-party ads, no affiliate links, no tracking cookies. Just honest content. Thanks.

Pedalurgy Music TongueDrum

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