Sampler / Looper?
November 23, 2007 1:48 AM   Subscribe

Music Instrument Filter: I know what I want but not what it's called or if it precisely exists. I want something that samples and loops over itself, overdubbing or "stacking" the samples as it goes. I want it to accept MIDI so that it knows when to start the loop again. And I don't want it to require a computer.

Basically, I want something kind of like in this Imogen Heap video (although I don't think I need discrete tracks with seperate volume controls -- one track at a time is fine).

I don't use a computer to record or play, but I do use MIDI, so I want to be able to use MIDI to let the sampler know what the tempo is. (I don't think tapping the tempo will be accurate enough, since I won't be using the samples as a guide; I want them to sync up with stuff that's already recorded.)

Ideas? Recommendations?
posted by Karlos the Jackal to Media & Arts (12 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
No MIDI, but it works for KT Tunstall. For your purposes I'd point you to Boss.
posted by rhizome at 2:22 AM on November 23, 2007

You want whatever that thing is that Final Fantasy uses.
posted by Reggie Digest at 2:51 AM on November 23, 2007

you forgot to mention what OS you want this software for. always a good idea, that.

Anyway, what you want is typically called a 'live looper' and there are a number of hardware and software solutions:

Software-wise the mac has: Augustus Loop, Sooper Looper (might be cross platform)

PC-users can enjoy the Divine Machine, which has always looked pretty cool.

The thing about these software solutions is that you'll more than likely want some way to trigger the recording and looping with a foot pedal. To that end there are a lot of MIDI foot controllers that are pretty much all difficult to use.

Hardware-wise there are several layers of BOSS loop station, Line 6's DL-4 and many other new and vintage bits. The best is the Gibson Echoplex+.

good luck.
posted by n9 at 4:26 AM on November 23, 2007

Here's a better view of Owen Pallett's (Final Fantasy) setup. It appears to be 4 digital delay pedals. He just plays a part, taps the pedal to indicate the end/loop point, and he must also have a switch to turn on/off the output from various pedals. Sure, it requires skill to get the timing right - since a slight inaccuracy would eventually snowball, but for a 5-10 minute song, it seems to work. I'm not sure how you would midi-trigger the samples, and hope that the loop point would be a good place to loop the sample. (That said, i'm sure there must be digital delays with midi support.)
posted by kamelhoecker at 6:37 AM on November 23, 2007

What makes you think Owen Pallett is using 4 digital delay pedals? I think one of those is a tuner and one is an octave shifter, and he uses a pedal specifically made for looping, not just a delay. I don't know exactly what he's got though.
posted by ludwig_van at 6:53 AM on November 23, 2007

Seriously, some people need to bother reading the question before answering.

Anyhow, seeing as you have actually been given a few great hardware answers, I'll offer a great resource and community for looping and loopers : Looper's Delight - pretty much everything you may ever need to know about building loop music can be found there...

(I generally use a Line 6 Echo Pro - which is the rack-mounted version of the afore-mentioned DL-4 - if I need a wholly hardware solution for this in the studio.)
posted by benzo8 at 7:08 AM on November 23, 2007

Hardware-wise, your options are

Akai Headrush E2 - Solid looper, and you can get rid of overdubs, start/stop loops, and use it as a normal delay pedal. 13 seconds loop time.

Boss RC-20 - 5:30 looping time, tempo change, quantization, other random features.

Digitech JamMan - Huge recording time, mic input as well as guitar, expandable looping time. Would be a perfect choice in my book if Digitech wasn't a terrible company

Boss RC-50 - This one can be locked into a MIDI clock. An expanded version of the RC-20
posted by tmcw at 7:20 AM on November 23, 2007

Anyone remember "Fripp in a box"? You might look here.
posted by cosmac at 8:45 AM on November 23, 2007

Response by poster: OP here.

Well, so. It looks like I have a choice between something that doesn't have MIDI or something that does have MIDI and a hundred other things besides.

The latter is too expensive for something which isn't going to be used to anywhere near its full extent; the former is too expensive for something that doesn't do what I want.

I think I need the MIDI to keep it synced with previously recorded stuff -- I've got a fair sense of timing, but not to the millisecond. The other people (Tunstall, Final Fantasy -- cool links, thanks!) are playing along with their own loops and therefore aren't worried about things falling out of sync.

I was hoping that there was a simple one-track looper with a MIDI clock but it's starting to look like it doesn't exist. I'll leave this thread un-marked for now in case some latecomer knows of something.

Also, for people stumbling across this thread, here's a comparison chart I found while researching some of these suggestions.

tmcw -- what's the beef with Digitech? (I am not familiar with them.)

n9 -- um, yeah, I wondered how many times I should mention that I'm not using a computer -- "more," apparently. ;)
posted by Karlos the Jackal at 12:50 AM on November 24, 2007


"Stackable" looping, I don't know -- it probably requires daisy-chaining a bunch of them. But it does delay and looping with MIDI sync.

I think I need the MIDI to keep it synced with previously recorded stuff

Assuming you had foresight to record a sync track, yeah, it should work.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:22 AM on February 4, 2008

(I've been looking for something like this for AGES. It's such a simple concept, you'd think every FX company would have one.)
posted by Sys Rq at 11:24 AM on February 4, 2008

Me again, back with a definite WHY YES, THERE IS SOMETHING LIKE THAT!

Electro-Harmonix is reissuing the 16-Second Delay, and the new version has all the features you're looking for, and then some. Check out the demo video.

You have to pre-order it, and it'll set you back about $900-$1000, which is slightly ridiculous considering a full-featured sampler workstation doesn't cost much more, but there you go.
posted by Sys Rq at 1:11 PM on February 22, 2008

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