Looping capabilities with Live

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danny klim
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Joined: Wed May 24, 2017 1:34 pm

Looping capabilities with Live

Post by danny klim » Wed May 24, 2017 1:37 pm

Hi, i’m a logic user that is considering switching to ableton for better live workflow. The main thing that i want to do is loop my instruments, and i also am interested in playing around with the push and other unique features of ableton.

It would be really helpful to hear some opinions about this, could you please offer advice?



I’ll start by explaining where i’m at and what i’m looking to do.

I’ve been been trying to establish my looping workflow for the past year but haven’t found anything that clicks yet. I've tried using the loopback function in mainstage, loopy hd, and a small boss rc-30 pedal- but in all cases i found it limited because i couldnt use a pedal to do most of the functions that i want.

I’ve looked into learning mobius looper, but it also seems like alot to get my head around and i’m wondering if a simpler, more integrated looping solution in ableton might be able to do everything i’m looking for.

Here’s what i’m looking to do:

I have multiple audio instruments (guitars and microphones) that are connected to mac via audio interface and multiple midi instruments (samplepad pro and keyboard) that are connected to my mac via usb hub. I have a few fcb1010’s midi footcontrollers around my studio- so there is one right next to each instrument “station” that i play at.

I want to program a pedal at each of these stations so that I can loop the instrument that I lay down some sounds with, then move to another station and play instrument and loop it on top of the other loop (and so on).
I want to record each instrument (or different riffs from one instrument) on its own separate “track” and be able to control the volume of each track using the expression pedals on the FCB1010.

I’d also like to be able to do these functions from my FCB1010:
record, play, stop, stop/play particular instrument, add/adjust effects, raise/lower overall volume

This video has an example of the kind of functionality that I want (though this is on an iPad with loopy hd) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fLO55bLQiAQ

Here’s what i’m wondering:

1. Can the looper set-up in ableton do all of this? If not, what can’t it do?

Or is it likely that i’ll run into problems/limitations like i did with the previous looping setups I tried? Am i better off learning mobius (or some other option) instead? ( If so- I’ve also heard mobius works better with ableton than logic- is there any reason for this?)

2. Is all of the looping function in ableton controlled by one “plug-in”? I’ve been trying to figure out whether there are multiple different looping solutions in ableton or just one. I’m a bit confused because i’m not experienced with sequencers and alot of that kind of stuff. Does the push control the looping function of ableton as well, or does that only do a different type of sequencing?

2b. Would the live instrument looper and the push be in sync?

3, Can i seemlessly loop all of my midi instruments and audio instruments in ableton without needing to fiddle with wires/settings on the computer?

3b.Is there any way to program an external midi button to toggle “record enable” an audio/midi input? For example, if i’m in the middle of a loop with my guitar and i decide that i want to add vocals to the loop- can i just walk over to my microphone and hit a button to start recording (without stopping the music)? Or would i need to stop the loop to start recording or go to the computer to make adjustments?

4. How much of a setup/programming and/or learning curve is there to do what I described? How long might that take?

5. Does anybody know of any resources/links that provide details/instructions on creating this type of setup?

Thanks, Dan

TomKern
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Joined: Mon Dec 05, 2016 7:08 pm

Re: Looping capabilities with Live

Post by TomKern » Wed May 24, 2017 2:21 pm

I personally don't use the Looper in the traditional sense as you aim to do, but I think that in general the answer to your questions is: YES
danny klim wrote: 1. Can the looper set-up in ableton do all of this? If not, what can’t it do?
It can do pretty much all the things you described I think, but what it in general does not do well (at least hands free) is to record new loops. You can start recordings, you can overdub, you can play back etc.
AND you can drag the recorded loop into a slot on an audio track to save the sample, BUT that last step needs you to do it with a mouse via drag and drop.

That's inconvenient IMO
Or is it likely that i’ll run into problems/limitations like i did with the previous looping setups I tried? Am i better off learning mobius (or some other option) instead? ( If so- I’ve also heard mobius works better with ableton than logic- is there any reason for this?)
No idea
2. Is all of the looping function in ableton controlled by one “plug-in”? I’ve been trying to figure out whether there are multiple different looping solutions in ableton or just one. I’m a bit confused because i’m not experienced with sequencers and alot of that kind of stuff.
Yes the Lopper handles all of this. There are ways to do looping that don't use it, but rather keep recording audio clips, but I don't think this is what you mean
Does the push control the looping function of ableton as well, or does that only do a different type of sequencing?
I'm actually not sure if Push can control the Looper device, but even if your FCB pedal is the much more sensible device to control the Looper.

Push does step sequencing, which can be seen as a sort of looping with MIDI, but I don't think that's what you are after if I understood you correctly.
2b. Would the live instrument looper and the push be in sync?
Everything in Live is in sync if you want it to, there is a free setting though in case you want it not in sync.
3, Can i seemlessly loop all of my midi instruments and audio instruments in ableton without needing to fiddle with wires/settings on the computer?
Well everything would happen inside of Live, so no additional wires/settings.

But what do you mean by looping of MIDI instruments? The Looper only records audio obviously, if you want to loop Midi notes you can do that to, but that wouldn't involve the Looper device.
3b.Is there any way to program an external midi button to toggle “record enable” an audio/midi input? For example, if i’m in the middle of a loop with my guitar and i decide that i want to add vocals to the loop- can i just walk over to my microphone and hit a button to start recording (without stopping the music)? Or would i need to stop the loop to start recording or go to the computer to make adjustments?
yeah, no problem, though you would likely use two Loopers on different tracks for that. But you can of course also use the overdub feature.
4. How much of a setup/programming and/or learning curve is there to do what I described? How long might that take?
Not so much, but I don't know you, so it's hard to say how difficult it would be for you. But yeah, I wouldn't book gigs next week using that yet, if I were you :P
5. Does anybody know of any resources/links that provide details/instructions on creating this type of setup?

Thanks, Dan
The forum has a capable search function and this topic has been discussed quite a lot over the years. So that's where I would start 8)

yur2die4
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Re: Looping capabilities with Live

Post by yur2die4 » Wed May 24, 2017 8:44 pm

To understand the potential and the limitations of Live for looping I would suggest going at it a step at a time, and stress testing each of these steps.

The primary diversion of paths is at the point where you determine which part of Live you want to use for Looping.

Session View is extremely powerful for fx, routing, preservation of individual parts of your set, re-arranging clips, and extensive mapping. It lacks automatic tempo (which can be cleverly circumvented) and most importantly it lacks actual overdub, though you can still do layers. The big pain with overdubbing VS layers isn't so much that you're going to have issues layering, but you miss out on a single-button method and you miss out on a smooth uninterrupted looping method (the end and start of a loop might have a big difference due to the tail of the end being interrupted).

The Looper device can be used to determine your own tempo and allows overdub. It has a multifunction button for simplified mapping. I have found that this button functions best if you map it to a MIDI NOTE, and not a CC. This could save you a lot of trouble in experimenting. A downside (or advantage, depending on what you're going for) of the Looper is that it will not preserve the root note of your recorded material if you change tempo abruptly. It acts much like a record. Session Clips can be set either to act in this manner by default, or take advantage of warping. If you don't intend to change tempo mid-song, this shouldn't be an issue. The Overdub, Tempo determination, and multifunction button are the main strengths.

Personally, I would suggest going with the best of both worlds. This means making hard choices. I think in general, I prefer to go the Session route. I create an 'input' channel for each instrument and then create multiple record channels as looping channels. Then I'd have an additional Return channel (or an audio channel) which is dedicated to using the Looper device as an alternative method.

But to start, load them each up and try shit out. See where you hit a wall and what the workarounds could be. Make a small model set and see what flow you find to be most comfortable.

danny klim
Posts: 72
Joined: Wed May 24, 2017 1:34 pm

Re: Looping capabilities with Live

Post by danny klim » Sun May 28, 2017 1:38 am

wow thanks so much TomKern and yur2die4! i really appreciate such thoughtful responses!

Here’s some follow ups for clarification :
TomKern wrote:I personally don't use the Looper in the traditional sense as you aim to do, but I think that in general the answer to your questions is: YES

It can do pretty much all the things you described I think, but what it in general does not do well (at least hands free) is to record new loops. You can start recordings, you can overdub, you can play back etc.
AND you can drag the recorded loop into a slot on an audio track to save the sample, BUT that last step needs you to do it with a mouse via drag and drop.
That's inconvenient IMO
Alright that sounds great! What exactly do you mean by “record new loops”? I’m confused about the distinction between that and starting recordings and overdubbing… do you mean that i can’t use a foot pedal to start a separate layer/track of loop? But that i am able to start recording an entirely new track?

TomKern wrote: Push does step sequencing, which can be seen as a sort of looping with MIDI, but I don't think that's what you are after if I understood you correctly.

...

But what do you mean by looping of MIDI instruments? The Looper only records audio obviously, if you want to loop Midi notes you can do that to, but that wouldn't involve the Looper device.
Hmmm that makes sense, i think. Sorry if i made it confusing by using the wrong terms, i’ll try to explain it better here:

In addition to recording guitar and with microphones, I play a midi keyboard and midi drums often, and i just got a push as well. I want to be able to play all of these audio and midi instruments together and loop them to build songs/jams with many layers. Here’s a few examples:
a) play an electric guitar riff and loop it, then play and loop a piano riff using the midi keyboard over it, then loop a vocal over that.
b) play a beat on midi drums and loop it, then sing and loop a layer of some vocals on top of it.
c) play a beat on the push and loop it, and then play and loop some electric guitar over it.

So in these situations where i’m playing with both midi and audio instruments, would i use the Looper device? Or the looper device can’t be used with midi instruments? Or would i use a combination of the looper device, step sequencing, and/or something else (and sync them)?

Also, just to be clear: the “looper device” is like a plug-in in ableton, right?


TomKern wrote: But yeah, I wouldn't book gigs next week using that yet, if I were you :P
5. Does anybody know of any resources/links that provide details/instructions on creating this type of setup?
The forum has a capable search function and this topic has been discussed quite a lot over the years. So that's where I would start 8)
LOL! i’ll definitely be digging into the past discussion on the forums, it extremely helpful to hear these specific responses first though! Thanks again for all of the advice !! :)



yur2die4 wrote:To understand the potential and the limitations of Live for looping I would suggest going at it a step at a time, and stress testing each of these steps.

The primary diversion of paths is at the point where you determine which part of Live you want to use for Looping.

Session View is extremely powerful for fx, routing, preservation of individual parts of your set, re-arranging clips, and extensive mapping. It lacks automatic tempo (which can be cleverly circumvented) and most importantly it lacks actual overdub, though you can still do layers. The big pain with overdubbing VS layers isn't so much that you're going to have issues layering, but you miss out on a single-button method and you miss out on a smooth uninterrupted looping method (the end and start of a loop might have a big difference due to the tail of the end being interrupted).

The Looper device can be used to determine your own tempo and allows overdub. It has a multifunction button for simplified mapping. I have found that this button functions best if you map it to a MIDI NOTE, and not a CC. This could save you a lot of trouble in experimenting. A downside (or advantage, depending on what you're going for) of the Looper is that it will not preserve the root note of your recorded material if you change tempo abruptly. It acts much like a record. Session Clips can be set either to act in this manner by default, or take advantage of warping. If you don't intend to change tempo mid-song, this shouldn't be an issue. The Overdub, Tempo determination, and multifunction button are the main strengths.
Wow i didn’t even realize that there were multiple ways of doing this. Thanks for explaining that and also thanks for the tip about the MIDI NOTE instead of CC.

-What do you mean by "it will not preserve the root note of your recorded material if you change tempo abruptly”? Do you mean that, if for example, i double the tempo of the loops, then it will double the frequency of the note as well to make it a higher pitched sound?
yur2die4 wrote: Personally, I would suggest going with the best of both worlds. This means making hard choices. I think in general, I prefer to go the Session route. I create an 'input' channel for each instrument and then create multiple record channels as looping channels. Then I'd have an additional Return channel (or an audio channel) which is dedicated to using the Looper device as an alternative method.


Hmmm, interesting…

Why is it making hard choices if you’re getting the best of both worlds? And by doing it in this way, do you get the benefits of both methods and overcome the weaknesses of both methods?
yur2die4 wrote: But to start, load them each up and try shit out. See where you hit a wall and what the workarounds could be. Make a small model set and see what flow you find to be most comfortable.
Ok thats a very good idea. I have a lot of playing around to do, lol. Thanks again!!

TomKern
Posts: 358
Joined: Mon Dec 05, 2016 7:08 pm

Re: Looping capabilities with Live

Post by TomKern » Sun May 28, 2017 1:26 pm

danny klim wrote:
TomKern wrote:I personally don't use the Looper in the traditional sense as you aim to do, but I think that in general the answer to your questions is: YES

It can do pretty much all the things you described I think, but what it in general does not do well (at least hands free) is to record new loops. You can start recordings, you can overdub, you can play back etc.
AND you can drag the recorded loop into a slot on an audio track to save the sample, BUT that last step needs you to do it with a mouse via drag and drop.
That's inconvenient IMO
Alright that sounds great! What exactly do you mean by “record new loops”? I’m confused about the distinction between that and starting recordings and overdubbing… do you mean that i can’t use a foot pedal to start a separate layer/track of loop? But that i am able to start recording an entirely new track?
The difference is that you don't retain the loop. Basically the Looper has one slot. That slot can be recorded into, or the recording can be played back(looped), or the recording can even be overdubbed. BUT if you think: hey this is a really nice loop. I don't only want to use that now, I would like to keep it and save it into the browser as an audio file! Then you have to use the mouse to drag that loop in the looper onto an audio tracks clip slot. So you can do that last step, but you can not (easily) do it with a MIDI foot pedal.
TomKern wrote: Push does step sequencing, which can be seen as a sort of looping with MIDI, but I don't think that's what you are after if I understood you correctly.

...

But what do you mean by looping of MIDI instruments? The Looper only records audio obviously, if you want to loop Midi notes you can do that to, but that wouldn't involve the Looper device.
Hmmm that makes sense, i think. Sorry if i made it confusing by using the wrong terms, i’ll try to explain it better here:

In addition to recording guitar and with microphones, I play a midi keyboard and midi drums often, and i just got a push as well. I want to be able to play all of these audio and midi instruments together and loop them to build songs/jams with many layers. Here’s a few examples:
a) play an electric guitar riff and loop it, then play and loop a piano riff using the midi keyboard over it, then loop a vocal over that.
b) play a beat on midi drums and loop it, then sing and loop a layer of some vocals on top of it.
c) play a beat on the push and loop it, and then play and loop some electric guitar over it.

So in these situations where i’m playing with both midi and audio instruments, would i use the Looper device? Or the looper device can’t be used with midi instruments? Or would i use a combination of the looper device, step sequencing, and/or something else (and sync them)?

Also, just to be clear: the “looper device” is like a plug-in in ableton, right?
Yes the Looper device is one of Lives internal plug-ins.
It records audio. So you would use it for all the cases above where you want to record audio signals. In the case of the MIDI keyboard (which presumably controls some internal instrument in Live (vst or otherwise)) you can use the Looper to record the audio when it comes out of the instruments, but you can also loop the MIDI notes themselves before they enter the instruments in a regular MIDI clip (which you can nicely control with your new Push). Here the Looper would not be needed. Looping the MIDI and not the audio is the more flexible method, so I would use it where I can. And yes it is very easy to combine both methods. And as I originally stated, in Live everything is already synced (unless you don't want it to be synced).
You can also run as many Looper devices in the set as you like (as with all plug-ins)

danny klim
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Re: Looping capabilities with Live

Post by danny klim » Mon May 29, 2017 2:20 pm

Thanks again Tom!!
TomKern wrote:
danny klim wrote:
TomKern wrote:I personally don't use the Looper in the traditional sense as you aim to do, but I think that in general the answer to your questions is: YES

It can do pretty much all the things you described I think, but what it in general does not do well (at least hands free) is to record new loops. You can start recordings, you can overdub, you can play back etc.
AND you can drag the recorded loop into a slot on an audio track to save the sample, BUT that last step needs you to do it with a mouse via drag and drop.
That's inconvenient IMO
Alright that sounds great! What exactly do you mean by “record new loops”? I’m confused about the distinction between that and starting recordings and overdubbing… do you mean that i can’t use a foot pedal to start a separate layer/track of loop? But that i am able to start recording an entirely new track?
The difference is that you don't retain the loop. Basically the Looper has one slot. That slot can be recorded into, or the recording can be played back(looped), or the recording can even be overdubbed. BUT if you think: hey this is a really nice loop. I don't only want to use that now, I would like to keep it and save it into the browser as an audio file! Then you have to use the mouse to drag that loop in the looper onto an audio tracks clip slot. So you can do that last step, but you can not (easily) do it with a MIDI foot pedal.

Ok, that makes a lot more sense now. So by "record new loops", you meant record now loops that will be saved for future use, right?

And by saying "(easily)", you mean that it's also actually possible to do this step with a foot controller too, but it's not a smooth process and that it's easier to just do it with the mouse?


TomKern wrote:
Yes the Looper device is one of Lives internal plug-ins.
It records audio. So you would use it for all the cases above where you want to record audio signals. In the case of the MIDI keyboard (which presumably controls some internal instrument in Live (vst or otherwise)) you can use the Looper to record the audio when it comes out of the instruments, but you can also loop the MIDI notes themselves before they enter the instruments in a regular MIDI clip (which you can nicely control with your new Push). Here the Looper would not be needed. Looping the MIDI and not the audio is the more flexible method, so I would use it where I can. And yes it is very easy to combine both methods. And as I originally stated, in Live everything is already synced (unless you don't want it to be synced).
You can also run as many Looper devices in the set as you like (as with all plug-ins)
[/quote][/quote]

Ok that sounds awesome! thanks for clarifying that :)

So looping of the midi notes in a regular MIDI clip is just like using the step sequencer on the Push, right? So when i'm playing notes on the MIDI keyboard, i can loop the MIDI notes (before they trigger the audio of the VST) using the FCB1010 pedal OR the record button on the push ... and they will both function to loop the midi notes in the same way. Is this correct?

TomKern
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Re: Looping capabilities with Live

Post by TomKern » Mon May 29, 2017 3:10 pm

danny klim wrote: Ok, that makes a lot more sense now. So by "record new loops", you meant record new loops that will be saved for future use, right?

And by saying "(easily)", you mean that it's also actually possible to do this step with a foot controller too, but it's not a smooth process and that it's easier to just do it with the mouse?
No, by "not easily" I mean: it's pretty damn difficult. As in find additional software that lets you convert MIDI signals from your FCB into mouse movements and mouse clicks.
I would just forget about that possibility if I were you. (I probably should not even have mentioned it at this point)

If you want to record and save many loops for later use, I think option c.) from below is the better method
So looping of the midi notes in a regular MIDI clip is just like using the step sequencer on the Push, right? So when i'm playing notes on the MIDI keyboard, i can loop the MIDI notes (before they trigger the audio of the VST) using the FCB1010 pedal OR the record button on the push ... and they will both function to loop the midi notes in the same way. Is this correct?
I feel you are getting things mixed up here. What I meant is that you can either a.) loop MIDI notes within MIDI clips or b.) loop audio in the Looper device.

For a.) Push is a very good controller
For b.) the FCB is.
But I'm sure you could easily develop a workflow where you could use the FCB for a.) as well (at least for rudimentary functions)

Btw. there is also option c.) record audio into audio clips and then loop those (that's the possibility yur2die4 mentioned). That has some advantages, but also a few disadvantages (i.e. no overdub).
It all comes down to personal preferences and what compromises are acceptable to you.

All in all, if you want to switch to Live the take away should be: there are many ways to skin a cat in Live. It is extremely flexible compared to other DAWs

yur2die4
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Re: Looping capabilities with Live

Post by yur2die4 » Mon May 29, 2017 5:23 pm

As I mentioned before, just start giving it a try. That's he best way to start understanding the specifics we mention.

If you're unsure about purchasing Live, they do offer a free one month demo.

Levous
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Re: Looping capabilities with Live

Post by Levous » Tue Oct 10, 2017 5:00 pm

I discovered this thread searching for Mobius Looper. This was a very enlightening discussion! Just chiming in to say thanks to TomKern and yur2die4 for the expert advice and Danny for a well thought out question. You've all inspired me to sit down with a piece of paper and map out my goals and intermediate milestones with this.

I just purchased JBridgeM so that I could run Circular Labs Mobius Looper. Its an amazing looper but I'm having a few issues with hosting it in Ableton. It hasn't been updated since 2013 and obviously is 32bit.

anyway, I'll report back here if I figure out how to do this with Abletons Looper

Von Stinkenhaus
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Re: Looping capabilities with Live

Post by Von Stinkenhaus » Fri Oct 13, 2017 6:43 pm

I've found that I bounce back and forth between looping with the Looper plugin and looping with clip slots.
If I have a riff that I'm starting the song with, either guitar or midi, and there is no beat or established tempo going yet, I use the Looper plugin. You can set it to set the song tempo and follow. Allowing you to build upon your initial loop, adhering to your tempo. After that, I add loops to clip slots, using the 'fixed length' button on Push.

The limitation to this is that 1) you must stop the initial loop with your footswitch because it's not in a clip slot. And 2) You must manually drag your loop from Looper to a clip slot by looking at the screen and dragging it. Which is weak for live looping. 3) Because your loop is not in clip slot, it also cannot be part of a scene.

There is a Max4Live device that will drag your loop from Looper into a clip slot. But it really just animates a recorded mouse move, and the device and slot must be in the same graphic position. I'm still learning how to stitch all of this together in Live. It certainly beats trying to midi sync a hardware looper pedal. Composing is a breeze, especially with Push. But performing your compositions live takes some thinking out. Live can do it though. I am using a Logidy UMI-3 for controlling the Looper plugin and I can't give the Push enough praise for controlling Live.

peeddrroo
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Re: Looping capabilities with Live

Post by peeddrroo » Mon Nov 05, 2018 12:39 pm

If you're looking for a new convenient hardware solution to control and monitor Live's Looper, I just launched a Kickstarter campaign for a new controller.
You can check it here.
Have fun !

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