Looping sounds!

Looping sounds!

May 29th 2012

Making sustainable sample loops from short audio files using Audiofile Engineering’s Loop Editor (OS X only). DMS delves into the dark art of looping samples with the help of this great free loop editor for OS X. Download it here now. For a small fee you can also upgrade it’s capabilities.

Ever been stuck with a short sample and wanted to play it without it sounding like it cuts off when you play it too high up the key range? Some samples like Kontakt provide built in time stretching, and while this in itself can be a saviour there are ways around it. Sample looping may be your answer but again very short samples can be hard to loop without sounding artificial. Some samplers provide a built in “cross fade loop” function, which takes a portion of from before the start and end of your loops points and fades them to make a more natural sounding loop.

Loop Editor is the easiest stand-alone application that we’ve come across for looping short samples. The program itself is extremely intuitive to use, we didn’t even have to take a glance at the manual to gain excellent results. We’re not going to delve into each window and its function here, and as usual we’ll plough straight in there and get going with the practical…remember to check our Glosssary of music technology terms if you need it!

First off grab yourself a reasonable short sample, say a synth pad or stab like the one below.

{modmmp3} {mmp3}KSP_SS025_G.mp3{/mmp3}

Fire up Loop Editor and press “add” from the file menu, you can also drag and drop from a Finder window if you prefer (you can add multiple samples to this list if your dealing with a set of multi-samples.

Select your sample from the list on the left hand of the screen and you’ll see a waveform view of your sample appear. You can audition your sample using the playback button in the centre of the main screen.

Now its time to get looping! Drag the blue loops points from the start and end of the sample until you have a rough loop (we like to do this while playing the sample as an easy way to preview your loop). Some samples, usually constant unchanging drones may not need a crossfade on their loop point, although more often than not adding a cross fade with smooth out your loop making it sound more natural. We recommend selecting the “Start playback from beginning of file” option from the playback palette.



Here’s an example of a rough loop with no crossfade applies. You can see a close-up zero crossing display of your loop points in the bottom half of the main screen – the closer your points are to a zero crossing the chances are the less “clickey” your loops will be.

{modmmp3} {mmp3}leTES_nocrossfade.mp3{/mmp3}

Now we select the “inspector” window and click to apply a crossfade, we’ve used a crossfade size of 107 ms with “smoothing” set to full. Now take a listen:

{modmmp3} {mmp3}leTES2_crossfaded.mp3{/mmp3}

Much smoother! Now all we need to do is save the sample, import it into our sample software, making sure that it recognises our loop points (most will do this automatically). And there you go, make sure your sample is tuned correctly and play away! You may find that playing the note at too low down your keyboard that the loop clicks. This is simply a result of a single sample being played well outside of its original key a single – using multi-samples taken from different octaves will prevent this artifact (if you have them!).

In our example below we’ve loaded our edited sample into an EXS24 sampler, added some LFO to Filter and played a riff using sustained notes much longer than the original un-edited sample:

{modmmp3} {mmp3}LoopFinshedEG.mp3{/mmp3}

Ok we’re not going to get any awards there but you get the idea. As if looping sounds wasn’t enough Loop Editor also allows you to create Apple Loops and Acidized Loops. Handy!

Happy looping!


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