Live looping music software

November 12, 2014 — September 7, 2020

making things
signal processing
Figure 1

Live looping! Software-mediated sampling and repeating. Explained best at the quirked-out 90slicious loopers-delight.

The most commonly cited contenders here are undermaintained and ageing, but have many devotees.

One may also loop using hardware, traditionally by a loop pedal. I know nothing of that.

1 Sooperlooper

SooperLooper is a live looping sampler capable of immediate loop recording, overdubbing, multiplying, reversing and more. It allows for multiple simultaneous multi-channel loops limited only by your computer’s available memory.

The application is a standalone JACK client with an engine controllable via OSC and MIDI. It also includes a GUI which communicates with the engine via OSC (even over a network) for user-friendly control on a desktop. However, this kind of live performance looping tool is most effectively used via hardware (midi footpedals, etc) and the engine can be run standalone on a computer without a monitor.

SooperLooper is currently supported on Linux and Mac OS X, and any other platforms that support JACK.

v1.7.3 release — 11 Dec 2014

2 Mobius

Mobius is software for the real-time creation of audio loops. It was inspired by the venerable hardware loopers of the past, but moves beyond them in many powerful and exciting ways. You can think of Mobius as 8 synchronized stereo loopers that can be used in any combination with extensive MIDI and computer keyboard control. Loops may be saved to and loaded from files. A powerful scripting language allows you to create macros or customize Mobius to support your unique style of performance.

Mobius is available for both Windows (XP and Vista) and OS X (10.4 or higher). It can be run standalone, as a VST plugin, or as an Audio Unit plugin on OS X.

It’s hard to work out how old it is, which is a bad sign. the documentation claims to be at release v2.2.0 August 2012 but the binaries are at v2.5. Who knows

3 Instalooper

Instalooper is also free, and runs on Windows, Linux, macOS.

INSTA LOOPER, is a looper, but not only. This tools allows you to loop your music with many different sizes, to pitch your loop, put some integrated FX on it and reverse it. This tools \[sic\] is useful for making live effects, or to program them when you create your tunes.

The creators, Audioblast, are shy about mentioning who they are, but they seem to be French.

4 Freewheeling

Freewheeling is a left-field looper, open source, for macOS and Linux

Freewheeling provides a highly configurable, intuitive, and fluid user interface for instrumentalists to capture audio loops in real-time. […]

Freewheeling allows us to build repetitive grooves by sampling and directing loops from within spirited improvisation. It works because, down to the core, it’s built around improv. We leave mice and menus, and dive into our own process of making sound. The principle author of Freewheeling is JP Mercury. Freewheeling was also originally a Max/MSP external.

5 Enso looper

Enso has a beautiful interface reimagining the looper for modern DAWs. Haven’t had time to digest this yet., but Audio Damage does good thoughtful tweaking of old ideas.


6 Augustus loop

Ugly but solid, Augustus loop (USD49)

Augustus Loop is an emulation of a tape-based delay effect, with some extra features to facilitate its use as a looping device. […]

  • Really long maximum delay (3600 seconds - that’s one hour).
  • Tap length/tap record. You can set the loop delay time while recording your first phrase.
  • Virtual tape. The delay simulates an old-style tape delay, meaning you can
    • change the tape speed (i.e. pitch up and down)
    • reverse the tape direction
    • stop the tape
    • smoothly change the delay time (as if you were changing the head gap on a tape delay).
  • […]
  • Loop length can be set in terms of the host’s tempo setting.
  • Output of MIDI clock messages to synchronise other applications to the plug-in.
  • Ability to sync multiple instances of the plug-in running at once.