Building a new live looping setup
It seems possible that I may be able to play live again soon, so I’m currently working on my new and improved live setup. I spent a year trying to switch from Mainstage to Ableton Live, but I eventually had to give up. Here is why.
I have a unique way of looping. Instead of playing with a click to give me the perfect timing on the first loop, I use a different method: I don’t like using headphones live. So I use an intelligent feature that Mainstage has in combination with the Mobius looper or Ableton Live. While recording the first loop and closing it with my foot pedal, Mainstage or Ableton Live calculates the exact tempo of the loop. After that, all time-sensitive plugin effects, like delay, are in time.
Mainstage combined with the Mobius looper has worked well for me for over 10 years. But the Mobius looper plugin hasn’t been updated and is no longer supported in macOS Catalina, so I had to look for a new looper. Ableton Live with its built-in looper looked very promising. But it was much more complicated to adjust it to my workflow. I even bought an Ableton Push 2, which is a great device in its own right.
The main problem was that most Ableton Live users seem to use the looper with a click. In that case, it works perfectly. However, when I used the Ableton Live looper with the feature “set & follow song tempo,” the song tempo was set perfectly after closing the first loop but it had clicks and pops at the edges of the loop. In other words, the crossfade isn’t working correctly. I reported that to Ableton support months ago for Ableton 10, and they answered that they knew about the bug but it wasn’t a priority for them. When Ableton Live 11 came out early this year, I asked again. Still, they hadn’t fixed it. So I started looking for other plugins and DAWs with this functionality again.
I had another look at Mainstage and its looper plugin and found out that it is actually capable of calculating the tempo of the first loop with the Mainstage looper as well. So I gave that a try. And it worked.
Mainstage lets you set up your workspace visually, even with the looper. So I built a workspace that includes the four loopers I had decided to implement.
Here is a picture of the looper as a plugin:
And here is a picture of the four loopers in my workspace.
Soon I will post new musical ideas that feature the new setup, including finger drumming and some how-to videos.