December 14, 2020

Maneco Minilooper Delay/Looper.

A review and how-to.

Is it a very short, one-pass, 30-second looper or a very long 30-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. I’ve taken the loop well beyond the advertised 30 seconds, but the audio can get unstable and unpredictable, which is kind of fun. Throw the Reverse switch and the loop plays backward. Turn the Clock knob and the loop pitch goes up or down as much as two octaves. It’s a handy tool for composing and live work. Here are a few looper tricks:

  • Loop with the Time knob at 7a or 5p instead of noon. You can get a two-octave pitch shift in the other direction.
  • To create a half-speed bass loop: set the Clock knob to 5p and play twice as fast when you record. Then turn the Clock knob to 12n to lower the pitch and speed an octave.
  • It’s inconvenient to do, but changing the Clock knob while recording a loop will warp the pitch. Note that the Pitch knob affects pitch the opposite way: Turning the Clock 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.
  • Create a reverse stutter pad by quickly double tapping Rec. Sounds best when you capture a short snippet of sustain.

Minilooper as a conventional delay.

When the Infinity 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. Tips:

  • 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 Clock knob at 7a. Then turn the Clock 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-inspired delay is the length of time you set the delay for. Long, crumbly, lo-fi delays are Minilooper’s superpower. Original Frippertronics were about 3-6 seconds long. Minilooper can go beyond 30 seconds. By setting the Repeats knob to between 2-3p the previous layers in the delay buffer will slowly crumble away. Tips:

  • 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. Tips:

  • 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.
  • Wait a second after striking 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.

Further manipulation of the Minilooper delay.

Despite the simple controls, you can corrupt the pitch and direction of long, high-feedback delays.

  • Infinity toggle When Infinity is on, Minilooper is a one-pass looper. When off, it’s a delay. You can engage or disengage it at any time, so if you’ve developed a great groove with a long delay you can freeze it so it plays back continually and no new audio will be added to the loop while you play over it. Then flick out of Infinity mode and it continues as a long delay where you can add more licks to the buffer and the fade continues.
  • 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.
  • Clock knob This temporarily changes the pitch of the delay buffer, but permanently warps repeats and new audio recorded while the knob is being moved.

My take.

The simplicity of the Maneco Minilooper makes it really inspiring for composing, whether looping, Frippin’ out or jumping between the two modes. The real fun is in long delays, where you can manipulate pitch and direction on the fly and then lock down the recording so it repeats as a loop. Also available as a Eurorack module

This review is not paid for by Maneco. It’s provided free, with no ads. I really appreciate the generousity of those who’ve found it useful and bought 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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