How we helped to create Ed Sheeran’s Super Loop Pedal
7th Feb 2018
Ed Sheeran’s live act is now synonymous with his customised super loop pedal, Chewie II, but let us take you back to the days where we were working closely with our client, conceptualizing, prototyping and developing the internals, from the comfort of the Mobile First office in Barcelona.
Johnny “Drum Machine” Jenkins, designer and creator of Ed’s pedal systems and old friend of the Mobile First team, got in contact with us back in 2016 to help him bring his vision of the next iteration of Ed’s famous loop pedal to life, and from Chewie Monsta came Chewie II.
The original Chewie revolutionised Ed’s live act, making his life as easy as possible so he could deliver the best performance to his fans. The pedal soon became an integral part of Ed’s performances, and so the time came for it to be upgraded and polished, to make it as much of a bespoke piece of kit as one of his many guitars.
We had previously worked with Johnny on software development but Chewie II was a different beast entirely. We had to design the internal electronics, firmware and work to develop the bespoke audio processing software that would make it tick.
Chewie II had to be technically perfect and incredibly reliable. We didn’t like to let our minds wander too far but let’s just say we were extremely aware that Ed would be relying on our collaborative creation during his headline performance at Glastonbury Festival in 2017!
Meet ‘Robot Ed’
The project soon began. The major challenge for us, apart from the need for precision and reliability, was that the software component needed to deal with infinite audio layers without compression. It was a little outside of our usual comfort zone of mobile applications but, motivated by a private test session with Ed, we were able to create a working product in under 3 months, which is within our MVP time frame for mobile projects.
Despite being a slightly different project, from our typical mobile apps, it still shared the best practices and procedures that make our mobile projects successful; we worked closely with the client, in an agile manner, we made prototypes, used fast iteration, and the end product went through thorough testing.
Testing the product was a huge part of the development process, especially as we knew that the pedal would be performing to thousands during Ed’s hectic promotional and touring schedules. We initially mocked up an automated hardware test harness, which we nicknamed Robot Ed, in preparation for a live test with Ed in person.
That initial live session was illuminating as we were able to meet with the highly-skilled sound technicians that help everything run smoothly offstage, as well as meet with the man himself. Ed played for hours, dedicating a great deal of time to testing the machine’s stamina, before we were able to entice him away – giving us time to make some necessary technical adjustments. Once the live testing session was over, we were able to head back to the office with a clear view in mind of what we needed to focus on in order to make Chewie II a reality.
After a few days of continuous accelerated life testing, it was over to Johnny to integrate the production hardware before the final product could be complete.
And now, over a year down the line, Chewie II has been on a worldwide tour, performed at multiple prestigious events, including the 59th GRAMMY Awards, and has been centre stage at almost all of Ed’s live performances. Chewie II has become a significant part of Ed’s act, during the era in which he released his latest award-winning album, Divide, and we couldn’t be prouder of the role we played in what has definitely been the most rock ‘n’ roll of our projects so far!