Cracking the Code on Complex Guitar Pedals

I decided to pull the trigger on Blooper. It will take a while before I will know if this was the right choice for me. Since so much of our common concerns today have to do with integration, I thought it might be useful to post some my experience here.*

  • (Am I wrong to see the Audulus forum as of a piece with the Audiobus forum; viz., the Audiobus forum has been for so long a general place for all things iOS app related, while the Audulus forum seems to have a more focused concern with CV control/MIDI implementation between software and hardware? This all seems tough to nail down, but I see the strength of Audulus as having the confidence to congratulate potentially competitive products since, on the flip side, it also finds inspiration from these products. The limitlessness of Audulus benefits from the concrete hardware of eurorack modules, for example.)

My first experience with Blooper is its web app. It’s sparse, but the fact that a user can easily download the .wav files from each layer is fantastic. Sure, its not an ultra digitally integrated interface. Still, my hunch is that embracing the limitations of integrated use, that are augmented by tools like web-apps, can lead to better creative workflows. I like the idea that I could be working on a track, but could actually deal with the raw wavs in post.

More pointedly, I anticipate using Audulus through the ES-8 to utilize the EXP/CV jack on the Blooper pedal. I need the right cable though. I do have a specific MIDI to TRS cable on the way to give a clock sync (MIDI/EXT jack), which will leave the CV jack available.

I hope that some of the techniques/tools discussed above (eg., Audio Gate), will play out between Audulus and Booper.

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Make sure you find out which version of TRS-MIDI you will need so you don’t end up sorely disappointed for getting a plug that will be of no use to you. I would never be so careless to buy something without checking, but I know another user, 5893ovets, who told me he bought the wrong kind when he was getting started and learned a valuable lesson he wanted me to share to help you out :smiley:

The MIDI to TRS cable I ordered is labeled as a “chase bliss” style cable by the manufacturer. I decided to parse muffwiggler for some straight talk. I also did some experiments running some mono 1/8" cables with standard 1/8">1/4" adaptors into both the CV/EXP and the MID/EXT jacks. It looks like I was able to interact with one side of each. I was having fun doing LFO and clock tests out of Audulus into the pedal. This had me thinking about getting stereo to dual mono Y cables.

You know it’s a hairy mess. I knew it would be. But I (and the rest of the guitar world) have been waiting for a higher end MIDI syncable looper for a very long time (Yes there is the Aeros, but something bothers me about it. No offense to Singular Sound, just not my thing – I prefer Ableton clips if I am going to do that). Because I had nothing, my instruments have been getting dusty. If you actually look through the options (I know nobody will believe me), there really isn’t anything that ticks all of the boxes.

I got a bit excited though, because I could modulate the Blooper with the ES-8. This will be fun, when I have some patches going, to do some tight (patch integrated) sweeps and whatnot. Still, the MIDI sync will be key. If all goes well, I can work away with Audulus + Digitakt + Blooper.

I want to say once again though, that @stschoen’s Clocked Looper is just the best damn looper on the market period. I did order the Befaco INAMP for a good price which will allow me to bring it all into the modular/ES-8/Audulus. This means I can augment the Blooper by using the Clocked Looper downstream.

It’s easy for me to wish I had this and that. But there is something very exciting about building some frankensetup and really focusing and mastering it. I can see now that my decision for a small portable modular case with lots of little tools has been the right move. When I first started using that case I got sidetracked because the gain-staging modules were not working right. It has taken a couple of years to just get to the point of trying something better with the Befaco INAMP.

It seems to me that it’s all about the long game. Because of all the cabling and the high price of the Blooper I thought of returning it. But I think I am better to work through it and bend to its form, knowing it was designed by great people I am sure it has some surprises. It sure has some interesting sonic quality as a delay pedal…

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Thanks for the compliment. It’s nice to have your work appreciated. I completely understand your “box of tricks” approach. I plan to do something similar with the little rack I built. So far I only have the ES-8 and a power supply (I got a bit sidetracked by the Hydrasynth) but eventually I hope to add some more modules. It’s tough to decide what would be most useful, but I don’t feel like I need to hurry.

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I am shifting the conversation from here over to here @stschoen.

I am pretty lucky that when I go to the city I can actually go into a small music room and the people will let me pick a guitar, grab an amp and try out some of the gear, pedals, etc…But its not like trying to integrate it with your system. It would be neat if it got to the point where you could bring your own stuff in and try setting things up together and people would see it as charming that you were at it all day in there.

Yes, I am glad you are enjoying it. Not quite the same thing, but I did find that the elektron Analog Four MK1 also integrated well with it’s four assignable CV/Gate outputs, MIDI, etc… It also had a stereo input that would multitrack into a DAW (meaning you could plug the output of your modular into the A4 and it would show up in Ableton along with the four tracks for a total of 6). If I could have afforded it I definitely would have kept it.

The longer I am in conversation with you the more I think that you would defintely thrive running a small synth company of some sort. Remember, Os from Expert Sleepers does it all.

Syrett recommended this to me before and I addressed that here. I have gone over and over the available options for loopers too many times. I need to put that to rest.

Instruo does get the guitar out at this point.

I don’t imagine anyone watched this far into it. He strikes me as the kind of guy that would try to think of everything, and if I bought one and I had a reasonable request he might tweak the firmware. This would, however, shift my rack away from synthesis and more toward recording – which might be okay.

Speaking of expert sleepers…

  • I wanted to also say that I was feeling a bit down. Thanks for engaging me some. I could get some engagement on reddit or muffwiggler but its nice to have some friends in the know.
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I think we’re all a bit down atm. Hopefully the new year will bering some improvement.
Understand I’m not advocating any particular looping solution. Just musing on possible approaches to your dilemma. Having invested in Live and a Push 2, I already have a pretty sophisticated looping solution. I must admit it’s not as performance friendly as something like the BOSS but I’m slowly learning to make use of it. (It all looks so easy on YouTube lol). There are some Max for Live devices that make live looping a bit better with the Push but it still takes more fussing around than a dedicated looper. I don’t think I would be comfortable using it in a performance situation although I know many do.

As far as the RC-505 is concerned, I would agree with you regarding the on-board effects. What attracted me was the 5 independent loops and the flexible I/O. The RC-500 has many similarities but in a smaller traditional footswitch layout and only two loops. Still has 13 hours of record time. I have a couple of friends that use Boss loopers and they’re pretty happy with them. The Instruo module seems quite capable and can be synced via an external clock but would require some sort of MIDI to clock converter to sync to a MIDI source. Of course it offers the capability to modulate most of its settings via CV which isn’t possible with the BOSS unit. I guess it really depends on what you expect a looper to do.

I opted for the keyboard version of the Hydrasynth and I’ve been very satisfied with it. I looked at the Elektron synths as well and they’re certainly world class but a bit too expensive for me as well. I still contemplate adding a desktop unit but I don’t really have the space currently. I think I’ll have to do something about re-organizing my home studio before adding any more gear. I may be at maximum practical capacity already. I’m a terrible packrat and can’t stand to get rid of anything and I guess it’s finally caught up with me. I keep telling myself that I haven’t really explored the gear I already have so why add more? Our conversation got me fooling around with driving the Neutron using an envelope and LFO from the Hydrasynth and I kind of got lost in that for much of the afternoon.

The super-disting is a real modular toolbox. As a looper I think it’s biggest drawback is the limited record time but I guess it depends on how you want to use it. I see the Disting family as a compact way to add a lot of individual functions that you wouldn’t necessarily want to dedicate rack space to full time. The super-disting would definitely be on my wish list if I were going for a stand-alone system.

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What is the limit?

20 seconds at 16 bit mono. Less at higher bit depths and stereo

It’s all so strange!

From Instruo…

Screen Shot 2020-12-22 at 4.49.08 PM

I didn’t realize the the blooper had such a small buffer. In these days of cheap memory, I’m surprised it’s not larger. I can understand the disting being 20 seconds since it’s not a dedicated looper. 9 minutes for the Instruo is much more reasonable but still seems small compared to 13 hours for the RC-500. Of course space constraints for the Instruo probably play a part as well.

Me neither :stuck_out_tongue:

At the same time, my style of looping really doesn’t exceed that in terms of noodling on a guitar.

A legitimate counter consideration would be that, in terms of the base loop size, do you need more than thirty seconds? You do get 7 layers on top of that base layer.

I see my application as being a small part of a larger ensemble where simplicity is key. The Lubadh having two dedicated heads with an included transport expander is becoming more attractive though. Bass on one head, guitar on the other…

30 seconds at 120 bpm is 15 bars (4/4) which seems like a fair bit. I guess the extra time mostly comes into play for something like the RC-500 when you want to store prerecorded loops for later playback.

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This is giving me more of a picture of the Lubadh… In the first few minutes I’m thinking, “okay…” Then he engages the darn tape looper. Wow.

If it could work as a pedal like looper but then give me this sort of capture/mix live functionality that seems worth it.

It’s a bar shy.

You’d need a bit more that 48 seconds for 16 bars at 80 BPM. That seems like a reasonable lower limit on minimum storage to me. 9 minutes is long enough to capture a fairly long performance. The Instruo unit has a lot to offer from a modular perspective but might be a bit awkward to use like a traditional looper pedal. It’s also pretty pricey compared to most loopers.
I enjoyed the video but it was difficult for me to isolate the looper’s contribution at times. I didn’t have time to watch the whole video as yet so maybe it becomes clearer when he explains the patch.

Well… I just spent the last couple of hours trying to push everything out of what I have. I think that it is an important thing to keep doing in order to stop chasing the dragon’s tail, so to speak. I hit some really eerie sounding loops with a deep kick like it was on a submarine. I got fairly excited because I was able to send a pulse to the Blooper’s EXT input from your master clock with count-in, via the ES-8. The next step would be to go through the mBrane (Yarns) from the Digitakt, then when I get the cable,
Digitakt–> Blooper.

It’s such a strength of the ES-8 and Audulus that one can troubleshoot and create so many tools and interfacing workarounds. Not being able to run the Digitakt and the ES-8 on the iPad is definitely a barrier but mainly because of the USB over MIDI block. I think this should all workout soon. Patience, more patience!

I do like feeding Blooper CV. I don’t know why, but there is something deep in the human psyche about breaking out CV…

Have you tried plugging in the Digitakt then the ES-8? I’m wondering if that would register the ES-8 as the audio interface but leave the digitakt midi link functional? You could also buy one of the cheap midi to usb converter cables and connect the Digitakt 5 pin midi to the iPad that way which removes the Digitakt audio interface from the equation.

Worked! :smiley: Digitakt is sending MIDI triggers to the ES-8 via Audulus.

The Blooper is syncing nicely using the mBrane and I am feeding the modulation effects on it LFO’s from Audulus.

Just that one little hitch broke everything open and I am tracking it all in Ableton. Sounds really good. Really like the Blooper.

Cool! Glad it worked. AFAIK the iPad simply uses the last audio interface connected as the system audio source. I’m not fond of situations that require a certain connection order so I would still consider one of the 5 pin to USB MIDI converter cables. They’re inexpensive and I’ve had one on my Beat Buddy for ages and have never had a problem with it. Amazon has tons of them.

FWIW, steer clear of the iConnectivity Mio interface for MIDI DIN via USB. I have one, and it worked great for ~2 months, and then one day it started firing MIDI notes and triggers completely out of order, with no discernible pattern to the madness. It’s like someone connected the A3 random node to a mult node and ran the notes/gates through that. I couldn’t be more disappointed in my purchase :pensive: