The Hotone Wally is a looper that combines a lot of functionality in a tiny package. The top has a footswitch to control recording and playback, a knob to control tempo, and a knob to control the recording level. The top edge of the pedal features a giant knob to control playback level. The Wally can hold one base loop lasting up to 15 minutes, and the user can overdub on top of that loop. The functionality is impressive, but some readers may have a hard time wrangling this wee beastie.
The first thing to consider is that the Wally’s footswitch controls seven different functions: Record, play, overdub, undo, redo, stop and delete. Multiple clicks are required for some functions, so the pedal’s operation is more complex than a typical stompbox. With my size 12.5 feet, the need to ensure I’m making the appropriate level of contact with the switch (e.g., double taps to stop, hold steady to delete) would require that I dedicate perhaps more pedal board landscape than the Wally’s size would otherwise indicate.
That said, I was surprised to find that I was able to reasonably stumble through the full range of features (including multiple overdubs on top of a single loop) after 30 minutes or so of squinting at the operating instructions (they come on what is essentially a business card). The pitch/time control isn’t an either/or function; rather, the loop’s pitch changes as the tempo goes up or down. The Wally is pretty forgiving as far as the input signal goes, which is good news, because turning the input down on the pedal reduces the overall signal. Given its simple interface, its limit to one loop at a time and its size, I assume the Wally is for those players who want simple functionality for live use, so, while applying either of the aforementioned features wouldn’t be an issue for those loading a loop before a show, it could be an issue during a live performance by those who want to keep their tweaking to a minimum.
The Wally’s sample quality is adequate. I felt there was always some top end and depth missing from whatever signal I sent it, but the output was always recognizable, and I never noticed any digital artifacts. If the purpose of the Wally is to accompany a live performance which is intended to be more prominent, the top end loss might help the loop to blend in during that performance.
What we like: Hotone has packed a lot of functionality in this little box, and the stripped down interface will hopefully allow those for whom a looper is a luxury (rather than a necessity) to indulge themselves.
Concerns: The complex interactions required to maximize the Wally means it isn’t necessarily as conducive to live use as it might appear to be.