I really enjoy learning about new products out there in the gear-world. Products could be innovative effects, or crazy effects, but also could be related to function. As a guitarist, I’m always trying to figure out how to accomplish things sonically, but also how to accomplish them physically. Switching pedal sequences on the fly for a lead part live can be a challenge. I often will design my board with the pedals most used closest to me, just to help make things easier. But, that can often cause problems with routing the signal, etc. Again, fighting both the creative aspect and the physicality of making what I want.. work.
I recently had the opportunity to try out an interesting switch – the Flex Reaction Compound 44 Programmable Loop Switcher. I have used true bypass strips in the past, and my biggest complaint with a loop strip – eventhough placement is nice, you still have to hit multiple loops at times and especially if you want combinations. Sure there are digital programmable loopers out there, but the costs get up there, and you have to read a book to use it. Who wants to read a book?
The Compound 44 has some really great things going for it. First off, the size. The enclosure is a 1590BB style enclosure (think MXR Phase 100 on size). The 44 is a 4 loop switch, which I also like… easy to get a few loops/pedal combinations. Now, where things get super cool for me, is that it’s hardware programmable – meaning it uses DIP switches to activate the loops. So let’s say you have a pedal in all loops, but when you hit button ‘A’, you only are playing 1 pedal. Loop B might be 2 pedals, while Loop C might be all the pedals. You simply activate the pedal by selecting it via DIP switches. This is a great way of managing lead/solo pedal sequences, BUT still have those pedals available for other parts of the songs. Brilliant. Simple. No book.
Check out this great demo by Curtis Kent!
Flex Reaction also makes the Compound 66 which has 6 loops. The Flex Reaction Compound 44 Programmable Loop Switcher is available for $199 directly from their website. Check it out!
I had a chance to send some questions to Flex Reaction owner Taradol Chansriwong.
-Where are you based out of?
-What inspired you to develop gear related products?
Actually, I’m an indie artist/singer/songwriter and I’m the one who use many effect pedals both on stage and studio. I love to produce the best sounding tone on my recording and also on my live gig. When I worked in the studios and play many gigs I found many issues to deal with my rigs.
1. Firstly in studio, many years ago I have a lot of pedals connected in series on my pedalboard and they just sounded okay but not sounding RIGHT when I have to record my songs. Most times I have to reconnect them and use only one pedal connecting to my guitar to amp. A lot of pedals connecting together in chains has some tone loss. Many true bypass pedals connected together could get lost in the top end and even using buffer pedals (even good buffer still loss some dynamic when connecting with many pedals in chain) they’re still not as good as connecting to only one pedal.
2. Secondly, I hate tap dancing while singing and playing guitar so at that time (2009) I really needed a programmable looper. But most programmable looper available at that time (very few companies) are very HUGE and very difficult to program. At the time there are DIP switch solution from The Gig Rig and Carl Martin but as I said before they are very huge and heavy.
The Compound 44 has been developed to solve my 2 initial issues as said above. When using it, I found my tone from the pedalboard is alive (when I bypass all loops it sound just like I connect only one pedal to the amp and I can select only what pedals I want to use when recording so the sound and dynamic are very nice in studio situations. Moreover, it also make my live sound better than ever when using the programmable looper even when I have a very small/medium size pedalboard.
-How long have you been in business?
We start doing r&d on the product since 2010 and launched the Compound 44 around 2012. We have tested and developed the Compound 44 for years before we launched mostly developing in terms of the bypass tone of the looper to be just as clear as connecting just one pedal (Most looper/programmable looper bypass signal not pass only one switch/relay but pass all unused switches/relays when bypassed)
– What inspired the Compound 44?
The ease of use of DIP switches based programmable loopers are the main inspiration to develop the Compound 44.
-What are some of the benefits with going with the Compound 44 versus a true bypass loop strip?
Some pedalboard set up has a limited rooms to put a loop strip /somebody use a very small/medium pedalboard but still also put a lot of pedals on it so they have to trade off some space of loop strip with the other pedals. (for example when using loop strip on Pedaltrain Jr. there is less space to put pedals on the only three rows left) while using Compound 44, you sacrifice only one pedal space. In addition, when using Compound 44 there will be enough space for pedals that have tap switch to be put on the first row of the pedalboard.
-Will you be offering a ‘straight’ version in the future (like a strip)?
Yes! We have been developing our new Compound 88 (The slimmest strip DIP switch operation programmable looper) for 2 years and we will launch the new Compound 88 around the 4th Quarter this year!
-What are some of the benefits with going with the hardwire (DIP switch) vs digital routing?
The benefits of using dip switch are the ease of use (Most people can understand how to operate the looper in just minutes with no manual needed) and all signals are analog!
-Would you say the 44 is more popular than the 66?
I would not say that because this kind of product suits different personal preferences. but however, in terms of sales, the smaller /the lower price one may normally have higher volume in sales.
-I see the DIP switches manages the individual loops (on or off when activated). Is there plans on configuring the order of loops in the future?
Yes, there will be plans on configuring the order of the loops in the future.
-Are there any notable artist using Compound 44 or 66?
Jake Morelli (http://jakemorelli.com) is using our Compound 44.
Some artists in Thailand are using Compound 44/66 as well.
-Any news or plans coming regarding new products?
Yes! we will launch the new Compound 88 programmable looper which is a very slim strip configuration around this September. Please stay tuned.