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My first awareness of looping pedals happened at a rock show back in the ‘90’s. The acclaimed band Don Caballero, an instrumental math rock tour-de-force, had released a new album after losing their second guitarist. Curiosity was high among the indie dweebs pushing to the front at this, their first show as a three piece: how would they pull it all off live with just one guitar?

The answer came in the form of not one but two Akai Headrush loop pedals employed by guitarist Ian Williams during the set. At times, the crowd was treated to what sounded like a wall of guitarists thanks to Williams’ pedal arsenal.

Other pedals with similar features were already on the scene, but the Headrush had the advantage of simplicity: two switches, an in an out loop option, and 4 outs to simulate tape head echoes. My own musical endeavors had me go through two Headrush pedals in little over a few years. A fantastic little box with two major issues: a weak footswitch assembly and an easily destroyed power supply input.

While it does not sport the silver tank look of its predecessor, the Akai Headrush E2 updates these weaknesses and adds an even better switching mechanism for its three main functions: delay, echo and, of course, looping. The pedal also ups its total looping time to 35 seconds – not as impressive perhaps as other model pedals on the market but plenty of time to get your loop on.

Though many loop pedals have come along since that landmark Don Cab show, the Akai Headrush remains the simplest, most durable way to achieve outstanding 16bit quality live sound-on-sound looping in a compact, tough unit. – Greg Hoy