Akai E2 HeadRush – Looper Review

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Akai Professional E2 Headrush Review – based on Question/Answer format so you can skip around to what you care about.

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Akai E2 HeadRush - Top

Akai E2 HeadRush – Top
(image from www.akaipro.com)

Target Setup: live performance

Competitive Position: The price of the E2 is low for a type 4 and mid-range for a type 1. The only advantage would be if you want to use the unique FX. However, the FX do not work while looping. Many people trust the E2 in a live performance setting due to the use by the famous musician KT Tunstall.

Warranty: 1 year, with produce registration within 10 days


  • What is the price I should expect to pay for the Akai E2 HeadRush and how does that compare to other loopers?
    • Good question – please see our price tracker that we update regularly. Here, the various looper stations are categorized and the price is tracked over time as indicated.
  • How many loops can you play at the same time on an Akai E2 HeadRush?
    • You can only work with one loop at a time on the E2.
  • What is the main function of the Akai E2 HeadRush?
    • The majority of the unit seems devoted to emulating 4-head Tape Echo. It also has delay. The looper functionality is there, but seems like more of an after-thought. Also, you cannot use the looper with the Delay and Echo effects.


  • Can I record sound, continuously play a loop of that recording, and then layer additional tracks over the loop/phrase with the Akai E2 HeadRush?
    • Yes, the E2 has basic looper functionality with unlimited overdub, controlled via footswitch. The process is to start recording, then < press Play/Stop> to begin looping what you have recorded, then to add your additional layer. You can continue to add layers or to stop the playback.


  • How long can I record with the Akai E2 HeadRush?
    • The default E2 can record 24 seconds but only 12 seconds during overdub, when sampling is set to 44.1 kHz. If you select Extend with flipswitch you can sample at 29.4 kHz and record for 35.6 seconds (17.8 seconds for overdub). This is significantly less time than any pedal where looping is the main function.


  • How many memory locations (slots) are included in the Akai E2 HeadRush?
    • There is no memory storage in the E2.
  • Using the Akai E2 HeadRush, can I learn by having an instrument teacher play something and then slow it down and work on matching the notes and gradually speeding up?
    • You are not able to adjust the tempo of the loop with the E2.
  • Can I practice soloing with the Akai E2 HeadRush?
    • Yes, you can lay down your own rhythm track and then play over the top of it.
  • Can I use the Akai E2 HeadRush to capture quick song ideas to review later?
    • No, because the E2 does not have memory storage.
  • Can I switch to a different loop/slot while performing with the Akai E2 HeadRush?
    • No, there is only one loop on the E2.
  • Can I perform loop-to-loop queuing with the Akai E2 HeadRush?
    • No, there is only one loop on the E2.


  • Can I switch back to the previous loop while performing with the Akai E2 HeadRush?
    • No, there is only one loop on the E2.
  • With the Akai E2 HeadRush, can I record and play different parts of a song (verse, chorus, bridge) all during a live performance while not using my hands (pedals and footswitches only)?
    • Essentially you would need to cycle back through the operation modes to delete the current loop and then start over with a new loop. This requires the pressing both footswitches simultaneously. You would need to have portions of your song that do not require the looper (so you have a chance to clear the current loop).
  • Can I go from recording directly into overdub with the Akai E2 HeadRush?
    • Yes, you can go directly into overdub with the E2 but it does require a few footswitch taps.
  • Can I undo/redo the last overdub to change the song or eliminate a recording error with the Akai E2 HeadRush?
    • Yes, you can discard the over-dubbed phrase and retain only the original phrase (undo). However, you cannot redo the undo.
  • Can I set previous layers to go quieter or fade out while overdubbing new layers with the Akai E2 HeadRush?
    • This function is called “Decay” by Boomerang, “Recorder Overdub Level” by Line 6, “Loop Aging” by Pigtronix, and “Feedback Decay” by others.  It is used to gradually or quickly transition a song without stopping or switching your ongoing loop. However, it is not available on the Akai E2.
  • Can I adjust the volume or effects of individual overdubs with the Akai E2 HeadRush?
    • With the E2, this functionality is not built in.
  • Can I record individual overdubs/layers as individual WAV files with the Akai E2 HeadRush to then work with in a DAW?
    • You are unable to record your loops with the Akai E2.
  • Can I use the 1/8” MP3/CD input to play song into the looper and incorporate it into my loop with the Akai E2 HeadRush?
    • There is only one input on the E2. It is the 1/4” mono input.
  • Can I pre-record tracks, edit them in a DAW, load them into the Akai E2 HeadRush as loops and then trigger them with the footswitch when needed?
    • There is no way to load tracks onto the E2.
  • Can I trigger a one-shot playback (a.k.a. single phrase) with the Akai E2 HeadRush? In other words, can I set the loop to only play one time when triggered?
    • Yes, this single phrase functionality is not available on the Akai E2 HeadRush. You would need to manually do this.
  • Can I play multiple loops simultaneously with the Akai E2 HeadRush, and turn them on and off? For example, play drums on one track, base-line on the other, and guitar on another and bring them in and out of the song?
    • We see no way to accomplish this with the E2.
  • Can I play a loop or overdub in reverse with the Akai E2 HeadRush?
    • No, this feature is not included on the E2. It is on several other looper models though.
  • Does the Akai E2 HeadRush have stereo sound or just mono?
    • The E2 has only mono for the looper.


  • Is there anything in the Akai E2 HeadRush that reduces the clicking sound that can occur when tapping the footswitch during overdub?
    • Not that we are aware of.
  • Is the Akai E2 HeadRush a good looper for live performances on stage?
    • For very simple looper performances, this may be a good option. That is because it has reliable function and clean sound. In fact, KT Tunstall has made this pedal famous with her live performances.
  • Are there multiple stop modes in the Akai E2 HeadRush?
    • No we are not aware of fade-outs or other alternate stop modes with the E2.
  • Can I stutter start with the Akai E2 HeadRush?
    • No, we are not aware of any way to stutter start with the E2.
  • Can I resample with the Akai E2 HeadRush? In other words, can I take a loop and modify it by multiplying it, cutting part of it out, adding a different effect to it, etc?
    • We are not aware of any resampling or multiply functionality with the E2.
  • Can the Akai E2 HeadRush be set to auto-record when I begin playing?
    • No the E2 does not have auto-record.
  • With the Akai E2 HeadRush, are there any issues with droning (playing the same note, chord, repeated sounds, or tone-clusters continuously) at the boundaries of the loops – such as noticeable change in volume?
    • We have not experienced or heard of an issue with droning using the E2.
  • Does the Akai E2 HeadRush have a built in metronome?
    • There is not a built-in metronome in the E2.
  • Is there any software that comes with the Akai E2 HeadRush?
    • No software program for your computer is available with the E2.
  • Is quantize functionality available on the Akai E2 HeadRush?
    • No, quantize is not available on the E2.
  • Will the Akai E2 HeadRush interface with my DAW (digital audio workstation)/computer through USB?
    • The E2 does not function as an audio interface, it does not have a USB or other digital audio port.
  • Will the Akai E2 HeadRush interface with my computer through USB to transfer sound files?
    • There are no files to transfer with the E2.
  • Can I save and recall loops with SD card with the Akai E2 HeadRush?
    • This function is not available.
  • Does the Akai E2 HeadRush have effects (FX)?
    • Yes, the E2 has cool delay and tape echo effects. However, they are not available while looping.
  • Can I bypass the effects (FX) with the Akai E2 HeadRush?
    • Yes, you can adjust the levels to only let the dry signal through.
  • Can I turn off or mute the live signal that is fed through the Akai E2 HeadRush (for use in parallel effects loops of an amp or in Aux Send/Return of a mixer)?
    • There are two outputs that work while in the looper mode. The “Effect” output will play the looped phrase, while the “Mix” will play the live signal and the looped signal (if it’s the only output that is connected).
  • Can I save presets for effects with the Akai E2 HeadRush?
    • No, you can’t save presets for the effects. The Akai uses analog physical knobs.
  • Does the Akai E2 HeadRush have an XLR mic input? Does it have phantom power for a condenser microphone?
    • No, the E2 does not have an XLR input.
  • Does the Akai E2 HeadRush function as a mixer with multiple inputs?
    • No, there is only a single 1/4” input for the E2.
  • Can I re-assign footswitch functionality with the Akai E2 HeadRush?
    • The E2 has two footswitches. They cannot be assigned to different functions. However, if you press both footswitches simultaneously you can select the mode of the E2 – Looper, Delay, or Tape Echo.
  • Does the Akai E2 HeadRush have a headphone jack for playback and monitoring?
    • No the E2 does not have a dedicated headphone jack.
  • Can the Akai E2 HeadRush be connected to an external MIDI device?
    • No the E2 does not have MIDI ports.
  • Does Akai release firmware updates for the E2?
    • We are not aware of any firmware updates ever being released for the E2.
  • Is there an optional footswitch that I can add to the Akai E2 HeadRush to increase functionality?
    • No, we are not aware of any optional footswitch that can be used with the E2 to expand hands-free control. Nor do we see an input jack that would accommodate one on the unit.
  • Is there an optional expressional pedal that I can add to the Akai E2 HeadRush to control effects(FX)?
    • No, there is not a way to connect an expression pedal to the E2 that would control the E2 effects hands-free.
  • What is the sampling rate and bit depth of the A/D/A conversion?
    • For the E2, the sampling rate is 44.1 kHz with resolution of 16-bit. However, you can extend the maximum loop time by setting the sample rate to 29.4 kHz, via a switch.
  • Can the Akai E2 HeadRush be battery powered?
    • No there are no battery options for the Akai E2 HeadRush.
  • How is the warranty for the Akai E2 HeadRush?
    • The E2 has a standard 1 year warranty through Akai, but is non-transferable and requires product registration within 10 days of purchase.
  • What size is the Akai E2 HeadRush?
    • The E2 weighs 2.5 lbs. It’s footprint is 5.5” x 7.2” and is 2.6” tall.
  • Why is using an Akai E2 HeadRush better than just using computer software? Or why should I use a stompbox looper instead of something that is software based?
    • Ease of use – when you have a looper pedal setup, you just sit down and play (just like picking up an instrument). This makes spontaneous fifteen minute jam sessions happen all the time.
    • Control and reliability – especially during a live performance. Has your PC ever frozen or started running slow all of a sudden? There are a lot of processes that can occur in a computer that are unrelated to your music, and you may not have control over all of them.
    • Ability to interface hands-free with a dedicated stompbox/pedal/footswitch
    • The software usually has a much steeper learning curve. Nothing puts me out of the music-playing mood faster than trying to figure out how to work with the recording software and getting stuck on something.
    • If you managed to setup a reliable, hands-free computer based system then it’s still difficult to go on stage and have the performance feel “live”. People are used to seeing pedals on stage, but once you bring out your laptop then it starts feeling like a DJ performance. Nothing wrong with that, for some.
  • Why is using an Akai E2 HeadRush better than just using an iPhone or iPad application?
    • There is very limited functionality with the iOS based loopers compared to the Akai E2 HeadRush. However, these apps are quickly improving. With added hardware (microphone, Bluetooth control pedal, etc.), these setups may start to look attractive. Please see our iOS app setup information.
    • With regards to live performances, bringing an iPad or iPhone on stage may feel more like a DJ performance, but it’s not going as far as bringing a laptop. Also, the OS may be more predictable and stable compared to an entire computer or workstation. Therefore, we think that iOS based loopers will be more stage-friendly than laptops, but not as stage-friendly as pedals/stompboxes in the foreseeable future.
  • What company makes the Akai E2 HeadRush and where are they located?
    • Akai Professional is owned by inMusic Brands, inc.  with the main office in Cumberland, RI. They are a private parent company of several brands (AIR Music Technology, Alesis, Alto Professional, ION Audio, M-Audio, MixMeister, Numark, and Sonvix).
  • How is the support from Akai on any issues that arise with the unit?
    • Akai has a pretty short manual that actually has a well-known inaccurate description. We have found that many E2 owners are not happy with the manual. They do have a community forum on their website, where a technician is assigned to answer questions. We don’t feel that the answers are sufficient in some cases.
  • How long has the Akai E2 HeadRush been in production?
    • According to online forum discussion, it started to ship in June 2004. However, the original Akai HeadRush was released in 1999 (suggested retail price was $259).

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