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Looper block

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LooperControlMode.png

Available on which Fractal Audio products

  • Axe-Fx III: 1x.
  • Axe-Fx II: 1x.
  • AX8: 1x.
  • FX8: 1x.
  • MFC-101: yes.

X/Y and channels

The Looper doesn't support X/Y switching or channels.

About the Looper

The Looper is a dedicated effect block (FX8: global), providing minutes of stereo loop time. Options are: Half Time, Undo, Threshold, Quantize and Mono / Stereo.

You can record with Half Time switched on, and then turn it off during playback for very fast riffing.

Device-specific specifications

Axe-Fx III

The Axe-Fx III provides more than 5 minutes of stereo loop time.

Axe-Fx II

  • Mono - 60 seconds.
  • Stereo - 30 seconds.
  • Mono with Undo - 30 seconds.
  • Stereo with Undo - 15 seconds.

AX8

  • Mono - 4 minutes.
  • Stereo - 2 minutes.
  • Mono with Undo - 2 minutes.
  • Stereo with Undo - 1 minutes.
  • Looper Control Mode is accessed using a F-switch.

FX8

The Looper in the FX8 has additional features. It's a "global" looper so it's present in every preset. It can be positioned in different locations.

  • Mono: 8 minutes.
  • Stereo: 4 minutes.
  • Mono with Undo: 4 minutes.
  • Stereo with Undo: 2 minutes.

Locations:

  • IN PRE.
  • IN POST.
  • OUT PRE.
  • OUT POST.
  • And it can be disabled, which decreases CPU load.

The location can be set globally (Global menu) and can be overridden per preset.

Parameters

Parameters table

Parameter Axe-Fx III Axe-Fx II AX8, FX8
Record yes
Play yes
Undo yes
Once yes
Reverse yes
Playback Level yes
Overdub Level yes
Low Cut, High Cut yes

Threshold

Recording will not start until the input level passes the specified threshold, set by the Threshold Level parameter. If you press record, you will see the indicator come on and then turn off. This means it is waiting for input to start recording. Once you start playing you'll see the indicator come on and you are recording.

Quantize

Quantize will automatically chop your recording to the nearest 1/4 note tempo click. Recommended to use in conjunction with Threshold. Press Record, then start playing on a downbeat click. Press Record again to stop. If you stop slightly too soon or late it will automatically trim the recording to the length. Also, it will automatically start playback on the downbeat. So if you stop playback and start it up again later, it should always come back in on the beat.

Undo

Undo will remove the most recently recorded stack layer. If you're not in a mode with Undo, it doesn't do anything.

Undo requires CPU cycles during a brief moment. When used with presets with high CPU utilization, this can result in warnings or audible pops.

Dub Mix

"Dub Mix reduces the previous layer AFTER you add a new layer (press Stack then press it again)." source

CPU usage

Disable the Looper on the FX8 to save CPU.

Remote Looper control

Using foot switches

Go to I/O > Ctrl to assign the looper controls (such as Play and Record) to foot controller switches. Some functionality requires a latching switch, for other stuff a momentary switch is required. Walkthrough for the MFC-101.

You can also assign Looper Record/Play to an external switch, for easy access at all times.

MIDI CCs

  • Record: 28
  • Play: 29
  • Once: 30
  • Dub: 31
  • Rev: 32
  • Bypass: 33.
  • Half: 120
  • Undo: 121

The Axe-Fx III does not have pre-set MIDI CCs.

MFC-101: Looper Control Mode

The MFC-101 has a Looper Control Mode. This mode is enabled by pressing and holding the Reveal switch on the MFC-101. The MFC-101 will display "LOOPER CONTROL MODE" for two seconds and the red LED will be lit on the Reveal switch. This mode is disabled by selecting the Reveal switch on the MFC-101. In Edit > Setup you can select if this requires short or long pressing-and-holding. You can also disable Looper Control Mode altogether. MFC-101 Looper Control Mode Mini Manual.

The FX8 and AX8 also provide Looper controls.


LooperControlMode.png


Survive preset switching

The loop buffer will be erased when switching presets, unless Spillover is enabled. To survive preset switching, both presets must have the Looper, set to the same mode.

Using the Looper to tweak sounds

Use the Looper to dialing in amp tones. Place it before before the Amp block, and record a "unamped" guitar tone. Now keep playing it back while adjusting amp settings. You'll hear the differences in real time. Alternatively, use it to compare two sounds. Place it after the Amp block and record. Start tweaking. When you want to hear the original tone, play back the sample.

Assign the Looper a dedicated output

The multiple Output blocks and effects loops on the Axe-Fx III make it easy to send the Looper's output to a specific output for further routing and processing.

Panning the output

How to pan the Looper to one side when starting playback.

Firmware developments

Firmware 10

  • "Trim" allows the user to trim the start and end points of the loop. Use Nav keys to select either Start or End and then turn the value wheel to adjust the trim. Modifiers can be attached to Start or End by hitting Enter when either one is selected. Also, this new page will show a playback indicator and drawing of the loop waveform.
  • New Looper parameter "Play Immediate" (on Page 2) determines if playback starts immediately after user presses "Record" to finish a recording. This allows flexibility to allow a user to record a loop and save it for later as opposed to always starting playback immediately (note that even if this parameter is set to OFF, the user could still press "Play" to finish a recording and have it start playing immediately).
  • User can now press "Overdub" to finish a recording and it will immediately go into Play w/Overdub mode.
  • Modifiers can now be attached to Looper Play, Reverse, and Half parameters. These can be attached on Page 2. The state of the parameters is indicated but cannot be changed from this page, only from Page 1. NOTE: Modifiers are IGNORED if Record mode is ON. This prevents the user from having to de-attach and re-attach modifiers when recording new loops.

Firmware 14

  • Improved Looper as follows:
  • Improved handling of quantization. If recording is stopped early, the Looper will automatically continue recording until the next down beat rather than extend the length of the loop by adding silence. If recording is stopped late, the Looper will automatically start playback that far into the loop rather than waiting for the next downbeat. When play is stopped and re-started the Looper no longer waits for the Axe-FX II"s internal tempo downbeat. This makes it easier to resync up with an external tempo source when starting and stopping playback.
  • Improved handling of modifiers on Loop Start and Loop End parameters. Changing one of these values no longer alters the min/max of the other. So for example an external controller could be assigned to both Start and End simultaneously to allow sweeping over a playback region.
  • Added the ability to pre-select Reverse before recording. When recording is finished the loop will automatically start playing back in Reverse.
  • Changed Quantize parameter to have 4 values: OFF, 1/4, 1/8, 1/16 to support quantizing to subdivisions of the quarter note.
  • Added new parameter "Record Beats". If set to a value > 0 and Quantize is turned it then the Looper will automatically record for the specified number of beats (unless stopped earlier by user).
  • Fixed a bug where using Undo and 1/2 speed could cause the unit to exceed maximum CPU.
  • Various internal efficiency improvements.

Axe-Fx III

"We completely rewrote the Looper. Over five minutes of stereo recording with undo." source

The III's Looper does not (yet) have Half-Step mode. And there's no Overdub button, because overdubbing simply is accomplished by hitting Record again.

Tutorials

More information

Wikipedia.

Troubleshooting

Can't hear the Looper on the FX8

If you can't hear the Looper, check the LOOPER LOCATION. It must not be set to NO LOOPER. If it is set to GLOBAL, check the GLOBAL LOOPER LOCATION (in the SETUP: GLOBAL menu) to ensure that it is not set to NO LOOPER. This may also be due to PRE/POST settings. If your rig uses only the PRE chain or only the POST chain, set LOOPER LOCATION accordingly.