Hardware loopers

i have been using the tc electronic ditto x4. mostly because i can use the midi out to sync with the modular. but more recently i have been using the aleph.


I just use the little Ditto mentioned above.

I had an Electro-Harmonix 2880 that I could never wrap my head around, so I sold it.

Mostly I use my iPad, but I mention it here because I’ve been pondering a hardware MIDI footpedal for it, in which case maybe it’d be appropriate for this thread.

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Any particular iPad app?

I wonder if these page-turning pedals meant for turning manuscript pages on an iPad could be used to control an iOS looper.

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I’ve tried several. I keep going back to Loopy HD:


Thanks on those pedals. I try not to use Bluetooth, because I have had such trouble with it on so many devices, but I’ll give these a read.

There may likely be much better solutions, but given the limited I/O capability of an iPad, I thought Bluetooth might be good here. Then again, turning pages is likely much less latency sensitive than marking loop points.

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I’ve an EHX 2880, an Octatrack and the OP-1 (I consider a looper its tape mode). Curiously I love the 2880 and OP-1 but not Octatrack, simplicity is more creative, fast, and challenging than the dozens functions of Octatrack, from my side

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I had, and happily used, a DL-4 for many many years. Some of the ideas in The Party Van and karma~ come from the DL-4’s state machine/approach.

I also owned, and severely underused an Oberheim (later Gibson) Echoplex. This is before there was a super slick Loop IV firmware, but holy shit could that looper do fucking everything.

In the early 2000s I was blown away by Andre LaFosse’s use of the Echoplex to create non-linear loops (where you never heard back anything how it was played in).

I never got into the Boss-style loopers, finding that approach a bit daunting/cumbersome, and definitely more oriented to singer-songwriter type looping.

I nearly got a Boomerang at some point, but I was put off by the sub 44.1k sampling rate (30something?), but I did like the idea of multiple asynchronous loops.

Great to see this still going. I was on the mailing list for years and learned so much there!

Ah, what a nice stroll through looper memory lane!


I just wish they would do two (simple) things that would greatly improve the way I used pickup machines.

  1. Allow the user to turn OFF time stretching. every other machine allows you to do it. Pickup machines should too.
  2. Allow the user to turn off the master/slave auto BPM features in pickup machines. Not everyone wants synchronized loops and If you are wanting to make asynchronous loops, this really fucks everything up. Also automatically jumping to a different BPM has a whole host of other problems.
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I h an octatrack and man I loved it - as a synth. As a looper ect it was ok but the OS seemed to be designed by a robot, for robots. So hostile.
This is why the er-301 is a definent for me now - for looping it will be excellent. Can’t think of a deficit there…

Also I’m going to get a s0 in the next couple of months (just got a d0 - amazing) and it does numerous looping in the mungo way…in fact I imagine the fine pitch of the arc4 is gonna be a match made in heaven

The one thing that reliably prevented a BPM change was to pre-define the length of the first loop I record in the REC SETUP A with parameter RMAX, which I set to 64 steps (the maximum pre-definable value). Then the OT does never try to change the tempo. The slave loops can then have lengths of x1, x2, x4 and x8.

Whenever I tried to create unrelated loop lengths, I ran into automatic timestretching, which in turn prevented overdubbing a loop. And as overdubbing loops is way more important for me than unrelated loop length…I can live with it.

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Thanks for the tip.
The auto time stretch is also a bummer for changing the playback speed of loops. I love the playback controls on the timefactor and would be overjoyed if the octatrack could do the same.

This might be way too simplistic, but I find the Critter & Guitari Kaleidoloop a very simple way to loop on the fly. You can also manipulate speed on the fly. I come from an SP-1200 / MPC world where simplicity is conducive to making music.



I mainly use a Count to 5 / Cocoquantus and occasionally a Timefactor and Electro-Harmonix 2880


I wondered if count to five could be used as a looper. Anything to add about that? I’m not quite sure how it would work.

Yup it can but the recording time is pretty short. Just a few seconds.
I believe only mode 3 lets you overdub
That pedal is pretty magical though


Count to 5 uses the same chip as Clouds. Its the closest thing to Max/Msp in a pedal. It is perfect for non linear ambient music and the max sample size is 8 seconds. There are 3 modes.

For looping use modes 2 and modes 3. Mode 2, records upto 4 seconds and plays back random slices whilst you can also control direction / speed and length of the sample.

Mode 3 is the Sound on Sound mode that plays back upto 8 secs and you have independent control of 3 tape heads. Mode 3 i layer up and get really thick sounds when i pitch up / down / forward and reverse. You can quickly turn a few notes into an orchestra using just 1 layer.
You can switch between mode 3 to mode 2 on the fly.

Mode 2 (mode toggle middle):

In this mode up to four seconds of sound can be recorded, and then played back in shorter segments randomly.

The DIR 1 knob controls the direction and speed of the read head.

The LEN S knob controls the length of the resampled slices.

The RAND knob effects how randomly the slices are selected. Ccw sets it to no randomness at all, the sample is always played from the beginning. Cw allows the start of the slices to be chosen from anywhere in the original recording.

The soft switch is used to record a sample. Hold it down to record. If you record for more than 4 seconds it will simply wrap around and layer on top of the first four seconds. Once you release the soft switch the sample begins playing according to the setting of the knobs.

While the sample is playing you can record a new sample while the old one is still playing. Simply hold down the soft switch again and when you release the new sample will play.

The E/EXP switch functions as in Mode 1, but instead assigns to DIR 1, LEN S and RAND.

Mode 3 (mode toggle down):

In this mode up to 8 seconds can be recorded and played back by up to three read heads simultaneously.

The DIR 1 knob controls the direction and speed of the first read head.

The DIR 2 knob controls the direction and speed of the second read head.

The DIR 3 knob controls the direction and speed of the third read head.

The soft switch is used to record a sample. Hold it down to record. If you record for more than 8 seconds it will simply wrap around and layer on top of the first 8 seconds. Once you release the soft switch the sample begins playing according to the setting of the knobs.

While the sample is playing you can layer on top of the original recording by holding down the soft switch again.

In mode 3, the E/EXP switch controls how many read heads are active. When E is up only DIR 1 will have an effect since only 1 read head is playing. E in the middle enables 2 read heads, controlled by DIR 1 and DIR 2 knobs. E down enables all three read heads and DIR 1,2,3 will all have an effect. If you plug in an expression pedal in mode 3, it will always control DIR 1.

The maker updates the software on it fairly frequently also.

Also he has just released the big brother of Count To 5 called 856 For Zellersasn which sold out in a few hours.


loopy hd is great - i appreciate all the midi clock & cc mapping support.

recently experimented with blocs wave - the realtime looping/slicing/re-sequencing works really well & i was able to sync it up with the rest of my studio via ableton link.


another vote for loopy hd, it’s fantastic.

Thanks for the incredibly detailed answer. 856 is sold out?! Awww.

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So nice