How to do looping music in 2019

I got a request today for an update on my performance setup, noting that I haven’t mentioned it since a similar post back in 2012. Crazy thing is that it really hasn’t changed all that much since that much. Of course my computer has been updated (twice) since then, for speed reasons. And, I have changed the software I use to perform, from Max to Ableton Live. I also have moved from a Maschine controller to Ableton’s Push controller. But everything else has remained the same.

So, where do YOU start?

I recommend using what you already have, just to see if you enjoy it. Buying stuff is enticing, but Facebook Marketplace and eBay are littered with “instruments of good intentions.” Which, by the way, wouldn’t be a bad idea to look, if you do decide to get into this. (Just be very careful buying used microphones, because they can be delicate, and it is sometimes impossible to see visible damage.)

To begin with, you can actually use equipment you already own—just watch this video:

Here I’m not doing looping, but I am showing how a delay works using stuff you already have. This could easily apply to experimenting with Ableton Live as well, and they have a free trial too!

Now, the sound quality is going to be crap—you’re using a microphone in your headphones after all!—but you can experiment easily.

Okay, so, what if you don’t have a computer, or you want to do this on your phone? Well, you’re in business. Loopy is a great piece of software for $4. Definitely cheaper than any hardware looper! A great step up for iPad is QuantiLoop Pro. This $15 piece of software is MIDI Controllable so it’s able to be used hands-free (which is important, because your hands will be otherwise occupied!).

If you’re thinking about hardware (like the Boss Loopstation, I’d recommend you reconsider. Right now, for the cost of the hardware, you can get much more bang for your buck buying Ableton Live and a foot pedal.

Finally, for inspiration, this guy is still the best there is for live looping on YouTube:

Michael LowensternComment