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Re: Some questions for an intro page

At 11:12 PM +0200 7/2/97, Mattias Ribbing wrote:
>Here are a couple of questions. I can send more as I come up with any. 
>newbies: Please write some of your own. Some of these might sound stupid 
>someone who has been doing this for a long time, but I think that these 
>the kinds of questions that people will ask that have just become 
>in looping. If these questions are to be put on a web page, please correct
>any spelling or grammatical mistakes, since Im not a native english 

If you are new to looping, there are some good articles on our web site to
learn from. David Torn's "In The Loop" is a great introduction:


Also, if you are just starting to experiment with looping, Matthias Grob's
"Playing Hints" section from the old Paradis LoopDelay manual is on the web
and offers some great advice. Obviously, some of it is focused on use of
the LoopDelay and it's successor, the Oberheim Echoplex, but there are many
good tips for anyone:


>How many looping tracks can you add to one loop?

This is really dependant on the looping device. Most dedicated loopers have
some kind "overdub" capability that allows you to add more audio material
to the loop. The Oberheim Echoplex, Lexicon JamMan, and Boomerang Phrase
Sampler all have this ability. Usually you can add as much material as you
like, "infinite overdubbing." In some cases the older material tends to
decay a little as new material is added. The new material is mixed in with
the old and cannot be controlled independently.

Many simple phrase sampler devices do not have this overdubbing capability.
Once you have captured something in the loop, you can't add more to it. The
Yamaha SU-10 and Roland MS1 are examples, as are the simple loopers found
on many dj consoles. Some of these devices do offer polyphony, where the
different phrases can be triggered by a sequencer and played together.

I don't believe there are any loopers available that allow for true
multi-track loops, where you have independent control over multiple loops
playing at once. The closest to that is the Oberheim Echoplex, which has
sync capabilities that allow multiple units to operate together as one.
Obviously that means you need to buy several echoplexes....

>Is "ambient music" the only music that looping artists play?

Certainly not! But that is a common misconception. Pretty much any music
that employs repetition works well for looping, which is pretty much most
kinds of music! Some forms where looping is prominent:

Ambient, as you noted.
dj oriented dance and collage music
"electronica" -  techno, ambient-techno, house, drum n' bass, trip-hop, 
experimental/avant garde
acoustic soloists / folk

Also, looping is showing up in various conventional styles, pop, R&B, jazz,
rock, etc.

>Can a looping device be used as an ordinary digital delay and reverb?

Many dedicated loopers are digital delays at heart. And many ordinary
digital delays can serve for looping. The Echoplex, JamMan, and TC
Electronics 2290 all cross that boundary easily. Reverb is not really
related to looping, but there are devices capable of looping that can also
do reverb effects. The Eventide harmonizers and the Lexicon MXP-1 are
capable of this. The Lexicon Vortex is another device which has other
effects in addition to looping. As you might expect, the looping capability
on multifunction devices is usuually fairly minimal.

>When you finnish a looped piece of music, are there any other ways to end 
>than just stopping it?

Anyone from Finland care to answer that? (sorry, I couldn't resist...:-)

Again, it depends on the device. Many loopers offer the traditional sort of
feedback control that you would find on a typical delay. So you could end
it by letting it slowly die away. Usually you can add new things to the
loop as it is fading, so the loop can evolve in a new direction. You could
also manipulate the sound of the loop with whatever tools are offered to
alter it into some kind of "finished" state. So yes, there are many things
you can do other than just stopping. It's up to your creative impulse.

Also, in the process of creating the loop, there is often the possibility
to immediately begin altering the loop after you create it. For instance,
you may have the overdubbing function come on immediately after you finish
recording the loop, so that you immediately begin adding new material while
your playing continues uninterrupted. Or you may do something like end the
record by immediately putting the loop into reverse.

>Whats the main difference between the looping devices on the market other
>than the memory?

That's a big question. There is a lot of information on the Looper's
Delight web site about different loop devices. Start here:


Memory is only an issue if you don't have enough to do what you want. Many
multi-effect devices that include looping are limited in this way. Memory
is cheap these days, so it's increasinly less significant an issue. You
should really be considering what you might want to do with loops and
whether a device offers those functions. Some things you may be looking for
are overdubbing capability, feedback control, style of control interface,
midi sync, midi control, multiple loops, pitch variability, sampler-like
triggering functions, reversing, insert, replace, undo, computer
interfaces, effects for the loop, stereo, etc... You should also consider
if a device has functions you don't need now but can grow into later.

>How much in general do you have to pay for a good looping device that you
>wont outgrow too quickly?

Depends on what you want to do and what part of the world you are in. A
delay pedal with loop ability might be less than US$100. A used digitech
Time Machine or similar delay might be well under $200. JamMans and
Vortices might be fairly cheap used ($200), if you can find one. Boomerangs
are in the $300-$500 range, depending on memory. Echoplexes are in the $550
- $800 range. Lexicon and TC multieffects are over $1000. Eventides are
well over that. I'm not sure what price some of the more dj oriented
devices, like the Akai remix are going for.

>Do looping devices work together with midi?

Echoplex, JamMan, and probably the Remix16 use midi. All three offer midi
sync and midi control to various degrees. The plex and remix have sampler
type triggering functions. The plex has sample dump, which everyone seems
to want but never actually uses. (the remix may have that too)   The phrase
samplers from yamaha and roland probably have midi functionality as well.
The multieffect devices certainly have midi functionality, but I'm not sure
how much is loop specific.

I hope this is a good start for you. Anyone else out there, please feel
free to add your own comments! It would be great to turn this thread into a
faq for the web site. Also, any other newcomers with questions, please add


Kim Flint                   | Looper's Delight
kflint@annihilist.com       | http://www.annihilist.com/loop/loop.html
http://www.annihilist.com/  | Loopers-Delight-request@annihilist.com