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Frequently Asked Gibson/Oberheim Echoplex Questions

Page 9 - Multiple Loops and Loop Switching

Echoplex FAQ Contents | Page 1 | Page 2
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Multiple Loops, General Questions

How many loops can the echoplex have? Are you stuck with a set number or can you change it?

You can have any number of loops between 1 and 9, set with the MoreLoops Parameter.

I was wondering if, when using multiple loops are successive loops confined to the first loop length a la JamMan?...If my first loop is ten seconds, will all my successive, simultaneous loops have to be ten seconds as well?

The multiple loops can be arbitrary in length, completely unrelated to each other. If you do want them related, you can do a "time copy" from one loop to any other, which lets the second loop be a multiple in length of the first. The time copy occurs in real time, so that you are able to record into the new loop as it's length is being set. No performance interuptions, which is pretty cool.

The only limitation is that you have to select how many total loops you want ahead of time. The memory is them divided equally among them.

So if you have multiple loops set up, and your first loop is 10 seconds, your other loops can be any time you want up to the maximum time available for that loop. Or, if you so choose, you could make any of the other loops exactly 10secs, 20secs, 30secs, etc.

I never could figure out why the jamman forces you to have them all the same length, that's about the least useful thing to me.

Does the Echoplex allow you to record different loops separately which can be triggered, stopped and retriggered separately?

yes, the Echoplex can have nine separate loops in memory, which can all be triggered, retriggered etc. like with a sampler. When triggering with midi you have velocity sensitivity and several different types of triggering options. There are also copy, control, and sync options for multiple loops that are very useful for performing with them. It is effectively monophonic, so only one loop plays at a time. Unlike a typical sampler though, the functions like overdub, multiply, and copy let you add things to the loop in real time in such a way that you get a sort of limited polyphonic effect. On most samplers, overdubbing in real-time is either not available or very difficult, which is why looping devices like jamman, echoplex, boomerang, etc are very popular for performance applications.

Can the Echoplex play separate loops simultaneously (and record on one while another is playing), like a polyphonic sampler triggered from a MIDI controller?

It's not polyphonic in the way a typical sampler is. The separate loops are completely discrete, can't be played together. However, the echoplex has a number of features not found on any sampler, that give you polyphonic like effects, and are generally easier to deal with in real-time performance. Overdub lets you add new material to a loop on the fly, and Undo lets you take it out again. Multiply lets you create repetitions of the original loop while adding longer samples over the top. Loop Copy lets you copy one loop into another while overdubbing or multiplying it. Then you can easily switch between the different variations you have set up. So it's not truly polyphony, but often the result is the same and it's really easy to manage it in the interface, even while performing on other instruments. That real-time usage is where the echoplex really shines over a sampler.

If you really want polyphonic looping, there's nothing that really does it at this time. The best way I know is using multiple echoplexes, which is what I do. The echoplex has lots of cool sync features in it that make using multiple units together really easy. A bit expensive, but to me it's worth it. You have tons of real-time control over each loop. (actually still cheaper than a good sampler....)

Why do loops seem to start in random places when I switch loops? Is it possible for loops to trigger at the startpoint when using nextloop?

Let me explain some about how it does work, and maybe you'll find a way that works for you anyway.

The starting point of a loop when you use NextLoop isn't really random. You return to the loop at the point where you left it.

When you are working in free, unquantized approach, this is often appropriate. In a rhythmic sense (and this is appropriate to droney and groovy loops), you will often leave a loop at it's end instead of random spots in the middle. So when you return to it, it will be at it's beginning. What the "beginning" or "end" is can be a matter of perception, and may not coincide with the spot in memory that the echoplex thinks is the beginning. It'll have much more to do with what's in the loop and how you developed it.

For example, say you start off a loop with some ambient, textural sounds, and then gradually add to it and develop it in such a way that some more percussive sounds begin to define a rhythm. Probably it will have a point somewhere that feels like the beginning. And probably that will have nothing to do with where the little startpoint LED is blinking, because who's going to constrain themselves to that while creating a loop? So when you used Next you would switch out of a loop when you felt you were at it's end, and therefore return to it later at what feels like the beginning.

That's the free approach. There's also the SwitchQuantizing mode, where the loops automatically switch at the end and start at the beginning. To me this is more appropriate where accurate rhythm is important. It does sort of assume you want the loop to go all the way to it's end.

When triggering with midi, with the "SamperStyle" parameter set to either "One" or "Att" the loops start at the beginning when they are triggered. ("One" means the loop is triggered and plays one time through, and can be retriggered each time the midi note is sent. "Att" means the loop is triggered at the beginning and plays as long as the note is held. When the noteoff comes, the loop turns off) When SwitchQuant = run, loop switches respect the SwitchQuantizing mode. Sounds like you might want another SamplerStyle parameter of "start", where you trigger the loop with midi, it starts at it's beginning, and continues looping. (just like MuteMode=Start parameter.) Seems like a reasonable idea to me, maybe it'll get added in a future version.

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Using Multiple Loops

I am just now starting to explore the possibilities of the NextLoop function on the Echoplex DP. Has anyone experimented with loading a bunch of really similar loops in there, then changing between them with Next Loop function, to give the impresssion of movement, without a drastic change? Any ideas about that?

One thing I like to do with multiple loops is pretty much what you are talking about. I record something simple in the first loop. Then I'll copy that one to Loop 2, and add something to it there. I might go back to loop 1 for a while, then copy it to loop 3 and add something different. Repeat as desired....

Since the copying happens in real time, and you can overdub new things as you do it, the performance is not interupted at all. It's essentially multiplying, but in a new loop.

Moving between the loops then has a nice effect, because they are all related by the common base, but have different overdubs and other manipulations. And it is nice when you have a dense loop built up, to sometimes return immediately to it's simple beginning. And maybe back again, or whatever. It's really easy to control this, so it's a nice way to keep a loop changing in the background while you are improvising something over it. You can definitely create a more "composed" feeling to your loop.

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SwitchQuant Parameter

For the switch quantize parameters the manual doesn't seem to be updated for the latest version of the software. What are CYC (cycle?) and Cnf?? And what do they do?

The SwitchQuant parameter lets you select whether loop switching happens immediately or not. There are currently three values for this parameter.

SwitchQuant=Off means that a press of the NextLoop button immediately sends you to the next loop. So if you are in loop 4, and press Next, you instantly jump to loop 5.

SwitchQuant=CYC means that the Echoplex will wait until the current cycle finishes before switching. This is nice for keeping things sync'd and rhythmic. For example, you record something in loop number 1. As the loop is playing, you press Next somewhere in the middle. The echoplex display will show "L 2", which tells you which loop you will be going to. Pressing Next again shows "L 3", and so on. When the end of the loop arrives, you jump to the one displayed.

If you have used Multiply on the loop you are in, the echoplex will jump to the next loop at the end of the cycle in which you press Next. Say you have Multiplied a loop to have 4 cycles (counting in the multiple display). You press Next during Multiple #2. Switching will occur at the end of multiple 2, not the end of the whole loop.

SwitchQuant=Cnf "Cnf" stands for "confirm." In this mode, the echoplex goes into a waiting period when you press Next. It jumps to the loop shown in the display when you "confirm" that you want to switch. You do this be pressing the Undo button.

The point of this is you can more easily decide which loop you are switching to with confirm mode. You can continue to press NextLoop until the display shows the one you want, and then press Undo and go there. The current loop continues to play during this time. If you want to be executing a particular function when you go to the next loop (recording, overdubbing, copying, etc.) you can press those from the "ooo" waiting period.

Confirm mode example:
you are in loop 1, and want to switch to loop 7 you press Next, the display shows "L 2", the next loop after Loop 1. Loop 1 continues to play. You keep pressing Next until the display shows "L 7" when want to switch you press Undo, and the echoplex immediately jumps to loop 7.

If you want to have have a function like Record immediately start when you go to Loop 7, press that button instead of Undo. (so when it says "L 7" press Record, and you will immediately be recording in Loop 7.

With short loops this mode is helpful, because it gives you more time to set things up before the loop switch.

Is this SwitchQuant stuff in the manual anywhere?

SwitchQuant=Cnf was explained in an addendum to the manual that went along with version 3.2 of the Loop3 software. It frequently gets forgotten when they print manuals. The above description is better anway.

The Echoplex manual, including the addendum, is on the Looper's Delight web site.

How do I use the waiting period for a quantized loop switch to start a loop copy?

During the waiting periods for SwitchQuant=cyc and cnf, you have the opportumity to copy the current loop's audio or time base into the loop you are going to. This is explained in the manual under SwitchQuant, and is done with the multiply and insert buttons, repectively.

NextLoop does not seem behave as the manual says when SwitchQuant is on and the current loop was created using a Multiply. For example, suppose I create a 1-bar loop and then mutiply it into a 4 bar loop (consisting of 4 1-bar cycles). If I hit NextLoop, it switches to the next loop at the end of the current *cycle* and does not wait until the end of the whole loop, unlike what the manual says. Is there any way to get it to do what the manual says it should do?

The manual is wrong on that point. What you are experiencing is indeed the way it works, not a bug. Quantized loop switches occur at the end of the current cycle, not the end of the whole loop. If you are using the new LoopIII 5.0 software, you will notice that the SwitchQuant parameter is called "CYC" for cycle.

I totally agree that in many cases it would be better for it to switch at the end of the entire loop rather than the end of the current cycle. A little bird tells me that Aurisis will be including that feature in a future software version. In the mean time, I guess you need to get used to pressing the Next button somewhere in the last cycle of your loop....sorry about that!

Bear in mind though, that switching at the end of the cycle is a very flexible method. You still get the tight synchonization of the automated loop switching, but the finer granularity of switch points gives you more control. Oftentimes, you don't want to have to wait all the way to the end of the loop before it switches, and the next cycle point would be fine. Having the choice is nice.

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Loop Switching to Any Loop

Three different explanations to serve you!

Why no "Previous Loop" button? Is there a way that "Next Loop" gets you back to Loop 1 without going through dead loops?

There are a variety of ways to switch between loops, but yes you can switch between say loop 6 and loop 4 without going through all of the others in between.

One way is by using the SwitchQuant mode that synchronizes the loop switching to the end of the loop cycle, so that you have a waiting period before you actually switch. During that time you press NextLoop until the one you want to go to is displayed, and then it goes there when you get to the end of the current loop. That works pretty well for this requirement, as long as you don't use really short loops. It's nice because it only takes one button to manage it, so it doesn't take up lots of floor space with pedals or anything. During that wait time you can also set it up to copy audio or copy the time base into the new loop, or you can tell it to start a function when it gets there, like overdub or record or multiply or whatever. There is also a similar sort of sync mode called "confirm" that doesn't switch until you press the confirm button, which is undo in this instance. So you would press NextLoop until it displays the loop you want to go to, then press Undo to go there.

The better way to switch loops to me is with midi, where you treat it more like a sampler. Then you can have a key on a keyboard for each loop, press it and jump there instantly. The fun thing there is that it is very sampler like. You can turn velocitity on, so that the loop volume is controlled by how hard you press the key on the keyboard. You can also set it so that instead of the loop going on and on, it is only on while you hold the key down. Or you can set it to just trigger the loop and play it once. (and retrigger each time you hit the key again, for stuttering effects)

If I were to record 9 different loops on the echoplex could I access each loop (go from loop 1 to loop 5 to loop 3 to loop 8) with one touch of a button on the echoplex pedal board or do I have to tap the next loop button till I get to the loop I desire?

Yes you can do this, there are a couple of different ways to switch among the nine loops.

One is by taking advantage of the different SwitchQuant modes, which quantize the loop switch to particular points. This allows you to do multiple things before the loop switch, like setting up which loop it's going to. (you can also do things like loop copies or telling it to start a function immediately after the switch)

For example, say you have SwitchQuant set to Cycle and you wanted to switch from loop 1 to 5. You would press NextLoop somewhere before the end of loop 1. The display shows "L 2" meaning it will be switching to loop 2 as soon as it gets to the end of loop 1. If you keep pressing NextLoop during that waiting period, it will increment the loop# it is going to. So you would stop tapping NextLoop when it says "L 5." Loop 1 would still be playing, and when it gets to the end it will go immediately to Loop 5. So while you still have to tap the NextLoop button several times, you don't actually have to switch through the other loops in between. This is the best way to go if you are using the echoplex footpedal, and is actually rather nice since you only have to deal with one swtich for all the switching.

If you want to be able to switch to an arbitrary loop at an arbitrary time, rather than at the end of the current loop, you could use SwitchQuant = Confirm. This way it doesn't execute the switch until you "confirm" it by pressing Undo. So you would tap Next until it shows the loop you want to go to, and press Undo when you want to switch. This is also useful when you have short loops that don't leave enough time to get all the taps done.

Probably the best way to switch loops is using midi. You can send a midi command to switch directly to the loop you want to go to. It uses Note on/off messages or continuous controllers to do this, and works a lot like a sampler. In the most basic use, you might be in loop 1 and send the midi command for loop 5. immediately you go to loop five and it loops continuosly. (no multiple tapping) This works great from most midi controllers, like keyboards and guitar synth. A lot of midi footpedals can do this too, but some can't. It has to be one of the kind that can do more than just send program change, like is explained in the footpedal tutorial on the website. I know that the digitech pmc-10, the rocktron AllAcess, and the roland FC100 can do this, and probably others.

Some more advanced features from there are the Velocity and SamplerStyle parameters. With Velocity on, the plex will respond to the Velocity parameter in the midi note message to set the volume of the loop. (with continuous controllers it uses the value) So the harder you hit the key, the louder it plays the sample.

SamplerStyle lets you set how much it acts like a sampler when it gets midi commands to switch loops. In the default setting (run) it switches to the new loop and keeps playing it, more "looper" like. When set to "one" it is more like a phrase sampler, where it gets the midi command and plays the loop once. (this is also good for stuttering and retrigger effects). When it is set to "att" (for attack) it is very sampler like, where it plays the loop while the key is held down and stops when the key is released. You can also mix the quantizing in with all this for very controlled switching.

I need to take multiple loops, (a,b,and c) of a tune, then be able to change to a,b or c after they're written, on the fly and lay the parts to tape. Is this possible?

A couple things to consider:

    SwitchQuant, which lets you jump to another loop precisely when the current one finishes.

    SamplerStyle and Midi, which makes switching loops way easier and much more powerful.

I guess what you want to do is this:

  • Set MoreLoops to 3 so that you have three loops ready to go.

  • Create your loop in loop 1. Go nuts.

  • hit NextLoop to get to loop #2

  • Create the loop 2 loop.

  • hit next again to get to loop #3

  • create your third loop movement in loop 3

  • If SwitchQuant is off, each press of Next sends you to the next loop immediately. You arrive in that loop wherever it was when you left it.

  • If SwitchQuant is on, you press Next and it waits til the loop finishes before jumping to the next one.

  • During that waiting period you can keep hitting next, so that when the end of the loop comes you jump to whatever loop you like.

  • If you use a midi keyboard or some other midi controller, you can select the loop that plays by hitting a key. SamplerStyle lets you choose if the loops start at the beginning and play once, keep running, or only play while the key is held down. You can use velocity sensitivity to control the loop volume this way, too. SwitchQuant can be used here to.

  • So figure out the sequence you want to play the loops in, and how you are going to jump from one to the other. Roll the tape, and go!

If #Loops=2 and you are recording the second loop, is there a way to conclude recording and instantly go back to loop 1? This would be useful if it musically makes sense to only have the "B" section of a piece played once before going back to the "A" section.

Right now, not really. This will be changed in a future revision. With the current software, if you press NextLoop while a loop is recording, it will act as if you pressed record to end the loop, and begin looping that one. You have to press NextLoop again to jump to the another loop.

The reason we did it this way had to do with people's intuitive actions when using the AutoRecord function. With AutoRecord, if you press Next to switch to a reset loop, recording immediately starts when you get there. What seems to happen, is people naturally want to end the recording by pressing the same button that they started it with, so they press NextLoop again. So to make it intuitive, we made it do what people seemed to naturally expect, and had it end recording and begin looping that loop instead of actually jumping to the Next one. Unfortunately, that made it impossible to do what you want here.

There is a way to do it though, by using midi for loop triggering. When you are recording in a loop and trigger another one with midi, it will end the record and jump to the one you want. This would allow you to do what you want here.

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Loop Triggering with Midi

Loops can be switched with Continuous Controller messages? I thought the CC's in the echoplex were feedback and volume. I switch loops now with note on's, did I miss something?

Using continuous controllers to trigger echoplex loops is much like using notes. basically, the controller number is equivalent to note# and controller value is equivalent to velocity. You send the appropriate cc with some non-zero value, and it's treated as note on, and then send the same cc with value 0 and it's the note-off.

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Stupid NextLoop Metaphor Tricks

Kim, I love the train metaphor you used for feedback. It made a lot of things clear for me. Could you put NEXT LOOP in this metaphor for me? Will anything else fit? Please don't hesitate to act like a fool for us.

hmmm, not the sort of Engineering I set out to do......

All Aboard!


If you missed this bit before, here's the train saga so far:

>> The feedback level is applied after the loop audio output, and
>> before the loop audio is mixed back into delay line, so a given bit of
>> audio still has to wait 20 seconds before it is heard again with the
>> feedback setting applied. The feedback structure looks a little bit
>> like this crude ascii drawing:

                                 |feedback |
                   |<------------| level   |<---------|
                   |             |_________|          |
                   |                                  |
  input => ------>(x)--->|=========================|------> output
                                delay line

>> the idea of cycles and loops (where a cycle is a subset of the loop) is
>> another sort of abstraction, and I'm not even very sure how best to
>> put it into the picture above. This is dumb, but maybe it works:

>> Think of the path above as a train track that goes around in a circle. Your
>> loop would then be the train following the track, with the front end of the
>> train just reaching the back. Each cycle would be a car in the train. Doing
>> a multiply or insert adds cars to the train and makes the track longer to
>> let it fit. Now, if a given car (cycle) is at the feedback level station
>> when you adjust the feedback, it still has to go all the way around the
>> whole track to get to the output.

ok, NextLoop rides the rails:

If a single loop is like a circular train track, then multiple loops are like several circular train tracks lying next to each other. Each can have a train on it, but only one of the trains gets to go at a time. Only that one has the input and output tracks connected to it. The audio riding on the train gets on and off there.

When you press NextLoop, the train we are on stops and just sits there, and a the train on one of the other tracks starts up. The tracks to the input and output loading docks get connected to the new track.

If there is no train on the next track yet, you press Record to build a new track and put a train on it. This train starts off with one car (a flexible one, I guess). Using multiply and Insert adds new cars, as previously noted.

If you have Switch Quantize on and you press NextLoop, the guy who controls the track switching waits until the car currently at the output dock gets completely past it before throwing the switch.

If you do a loop copy, the audio on the current train gets a transfer to go to the new train. It gets off the first train in orderly fashion and gets onto the new train, along with any new audio passengers. Actually, it doesn't get off the first train. A mad scientist has a lab under the transfer station where he runs a secret cloning operation, so it's an identical copy bording the new train and the original has to stay on the old train.

If you do a time copy, the audio doesn't get to transfer, but the guys who build the new train and track make sure to use cars that are the same size as the previous train.

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