In the past couple of decades, loops have managed to become one of the cornerstones of modern music production. The sheer amount of loops, samples and related audio content available today can often be overwhelming and, to many people, using loops and samples for making music can also represent a form of “cheating”. In order to transmute this negative connotation, it is a popular approach these days to change, tweak and re-process our freshly purchased loops in all sorts of creative ways and that way make them “our own” a bit more. By doing that, we tend to add some of our own “touch”, uniqueness and authenticity to what's otherwise, basically, other people's work.
Loops can be a great starting point for our creative process. They enable us to hear and draw inspiration from how others make their beats, do sound design and audio processing. Analyzing their approaches can give us a lot of valuable insight and hep us polish our skills to a greater degree.
So today we'll give you a few tips on how to get some more “juice” out of your loops.

1) Use a ring modulator plugin to change a timbre of a loop, but still keep its original form to some degree. We used Plug and Mix's excellent Psycho Ring to show you what we mean. Psycho Ring sounds great and offers a quick way to change the nature of your loop's timbre and pitch. Check out these before/after audio examples and hear what we've done to the percussion loop.




2) Try using a sequence-based multi FX plugin such as Dmitry Sches' amazing Tantra which offers several different effect modules to treat and mangle your sounds by sequencing each module. The results sound great and range from “subtle” to “beyond recognition”.




In the following audio examples, you can hear what Tantra did to a simple pad loop.

03) Use filters to “focus” on a particular frequency range in a drum loop and that way change the role it plays in the track. For example, we used BOZ's lovely (and free) Bark Of Dog plugin for this breakbeat loop to filter out everything except a carefully selected area of the high-end, and then we layered the result on top of our programmed (and fairly flat-sounding) drum-machine pattern to make it “come to life” and sound more convincing.




In the following audio examples you can hear what we mean:

This is the raw breakbeat loop


And this is a HP-filtered one

Here you can first hear the raw drum-machine beat pattern, and then what it sounds like when we layer this new “backbeat” on top of that.


4) Alternatively, you might try and experiment a bit with the brilliant new plugin called Peak Rider, by the Impact Soundworks. This cool new dynamics tool enables you to, among other things, apply the volume envelope of one sound onto another (in a source/destination fashion), in realtime! For example, apply the rhythm and volume characteristics of your percussion loop to your pad loop and that way make the pad “groove” better with the rest of the track. To show what we mean, check out these audio examples. We used the same filtered backbeat loop from the previous example as our “envelope source” and applied it to the pad loop as a destination.




In the first example, you can hear our starting point (the raw beat and pad playing together)

In the second one you can now hear what it sounds like when we apply the backbeat's envelope onto our pad sound with the Peak Rider. Groovy!


05) Use Zynaptiq's fabulous Morph 2 plugin to morph between different-sounding loops in realtime! This amazing tool opens a whole new vista of possibilities, enabling you to morph between different audio material, discover numerous new never-before-heard sound combinations and all this in very high-quality!
Setting up Morph requires a bit of manual reading, but Zynaptiq have “gone the extra mile” and made an effort to give detailed guidelines on how to set it all up in most popular DAWs (kudos for that, Zynaptiq!)




In the first audio example (AE05A), you can hear both of our raw loops, while in the second you can hear us morphing between the two of them. Morphing different loops like this opens a vast new range of possibilities and it's really fun to explore.



If you use your tools creatively and apply some imagination, you can transform your stale old loop collection into an exciting new library of unique audio material, graced with your own personal “signature”. Pitch-shift them, mangle, slice, re-order and most importantly – have fun doing it.

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