Though Live looping has been a musician tool since the fifties, is has became more and more popular in the recent decennies. Indeed, it has event reached a broader notoriety with their use by pop stars, youtubers, talent show competiors, etc.. This
The easiest way to live loop is by using a hardware pedal. These pedal can be very simple or more complex with built in drum, various audio fx and above all, many features to help performing impressive pieces of music. The main advantages of an hardware looper is the robustness and the ease of installation on a gig. However, even though there exists very elaborate looper pedals, these devices are always limited when it comes to the structure of the song. Simple looper pedals will force you to stay with the initial number of bars and a multiple of this number. For example, if your first loop was 4 bar long, all the parts of your song will be constraint to be 4, 8, 16, etc. bars. Advanced pedals allow you to have many different parts such as Intro, Verse, Chorus, etc. The use of such different parts in a song will avoid to be too much repetitive and can lead to a more dynamic musical performance. However, to achieve that with high end pedals, you have to invest a lot of time in learning and remembreing how to setup your device and, above all, use it confidently on a stage. Finally, easily controlling a complex loop pedal while singing and playing instruments is a skill by itself and demand practices.
Software loopers have many advantages over hardware loopers. In short, a software looper is generally more flexible and easy to use than an hardware looper. This is due to the fact that the developpers have access to modern computer interfaces : screen, keyboard and mouse for PCs and touch screen for tablets. Also, most software loopers will give you “infinite’ flexibility when it comes to add effects or instruments (through plugins). Furthermore, advanced software loopers will allow you to have elaborate song structures if you want but with a much simpler workflow compare to a pedal because the pedal has a smaller screen and a small set of knobs and buttons.
On the other side, the disadvantage of a software looper for live perfomance is that you have to have a computer (Laptop or Tablet) on stage wich could be perceived has a higher risk of failure than a hardware pedal. However, the use of computer on stage is not new and more and more common. The advent of SSD drive with fast reboot time also helps in reducing “techo-stress”.
Basic setup for turning your compouter into a looper
With LoopToGo, it’s easy to turn your computer into a looper. All you need to have is a USB Audio Interface, a Windows PC and the LoopToGo Free or Pro version.
The USB Audio interface is mandatory to achieve near zero latency audio throuput. Indeed, on-board audio card do not generally provide enough capability resulting in an unbearable audio latency. The connection between the software and the Audio interface is made through an ASIO Driver. ASIO stands for Audio Stream Input/Output (ASIO) and is a trademark of Steinberg. An ASIO driver will manage numerical audio data by exchanging fixed length buffers between the Audio interface and the application. While the Interface is numerizing new data into a buffer, the application process the previous buffer. The buffer length has to be short as possible to ensure a low latency but long enough so the application can process the audio data before a new buffer exchange. Basically, it is recommended to have a buffer length equal or shorter than 512 data but 256 or less is preferable when the sampling rate is 44 100 Hz. For example, a buffer length of 256 samples will introduce a latency of 5.8 ms. This is the equivalent of having a speaker 1,9 m away from your instruments. Most people won’t perceive the delay.
Straight to the point…
To make a long story short, make sure you have an audio interface, download LoopToGo Free and browse through the video turotial and help pages and have fun. If you like the Free version and need more than 6 tracks, buy the Pro version. Also make sure you check from time to time for a new release, we are adding new features on a regular basis. Even better, you would like to see a new feature or a new shortcut, just contact us. We really like to hear from LoopToGo users.