If you’ve read some my other posts you’ll know that I am into music to one degree or another (and if you haven’t, well, now you do!). For some time I’ve been thinking about getting a loop pedal just to muck around with. I really know nothing about using loopers or looping and the like to make music, but some of the stuff you hear on t’internets is pretty good (and some isn’t!) so I thought it’d be fun to have a play with it. Trouble is, the pedal I was looking at was three hundred bucks and even a ‘basic’ pedal was into the hundred and fifty range. At lot just for something to ‘play’ with.
So then I thought (as I am wont to do from time to time, doesn’t happen a lot!). Wait, I’ve got an iPad (and an iPod as it happens), there must be an app for that! So, I did a quick search and of course there is (several in fact) but it seems the one of the best of the bunch is one called Loopy which can read about at loopyapp.com. At $7.99 plus tax it’s a deal compared to hundreds fora pedal, and probably will get updated more frequently too. The trouble with a pedal is that once you’ve bought it, that’s pretty much it. At least software can be upgraded pretty easily. What also swayed me was the fact that pretty much every pedal I considered seemed to have ‘some’ sort of issue. Whether those issues would be of a concern to me or not really, I have no idea but it seemed daft to spend a couple of hundred of bucks to find out when a much cheaper and (it seems) just a good an alternative exists.
I also just happen to have all the bits I need to hook up the iPad to my sound system. So the point of this post is just to describe how I connected my iPad with the Loopy app into my system. In a later post I’ll (hopefully) go over the Loopy app itself. Even though I’ve only just started with it, it’s a lot of fun.
This diagram shows how I’ve connected up the iPad to my system:
The output from the mixer goes to the PA so I haven’t show that, hopefully it’s bloody obvious! Basically I am using the effects send from the mixer to send the input sounds to the UCA222 and then on to the iPad via the USB connection, where it is recorded by the Loopy app. I can control the volume of send for each input channel using each channel’s effects send controls on the mixer. Originally I had the output from the iPAd going (via the UCA222) to the effects return but I was getting some buzzing so I put the returns into regular inputs and just turned down the effects send on that channel so it’s not causing a feedback loop and that seems to work fine.
My Microphone plugs into my keyboard (s70xs) so I can control it from there, add some reverb etc; if I need to. I could plug it directly into the mixer but I usually have it setup this way anyway. I can also plug another instrument/keyboard into the mixer if I want and use the effects send in the same way to loop input from that instrument whilst still being able to play the instrument over the loops when Loopy is not recording.
The camera connection kit (really just a usb adapter) is not really that ‘solid” when connected to the iPad. It’s fine for a home studio situation where it does not get moved around much once it is connected but I think that for a live gig situation, you’d want something like the Alesis IO dock for a more secure connection to the iPad.
The UCA222 interface is powered by the iPad. This means that it is drawing from the iPad’s battery which is going to shorten the length of time you can use the iPad, although so far, it does not seem to have had too big an impact on battery life.. Since the camera connection kit is plugged into the iPad, there’s now way to charge it whilst using the connection kit. Another reason to use something like the Alesis IO dock which, I assume (I don’t actually know) can power the iPad whilst also providing the necessary connectivity.
Lot of wires! Yup, there are a lot of wires. I’m not sure if something like the IO dock would reduce the number of wires or not, it might I guess.
I usually record anything I am playing onto a usb drive plugged into the keyboard, which, since my mic is also plugged in there, also captures my delicate vocal tones (maybe not such a good thing!). Obviously that’s not going to work now since it would miss the looped output from the iPad so I need some way to record my creations when using the setup. So far I am looking at utilizing another UCA222 to send the monitor outputs from the mixer to my computer or laptop where I can record it.