Free and Simple Tools for Scripted Live Looping – Mikulski
Site Overlay

Free and Simple Tools for Scripted Live Looping


The other day I visited my favorite site Plugins4free, and I came across a curious LoopToGo program. This is a kind of hybrid of the classic DAW and looper, focused on live performance. The musician programming in advance to the tracks on the timeline where the recording of the loop should begin, its playback, and so on. Thus, there is no need to press the pedals and buttons to make a recording/playback cycle. Plus, there are more opportunities in the development and sound of the composition compared to classical live looping: after all, now you can juggle loops as you like, as well as program automation to effect chains.

Yes, this approach has been practiced in Ableton for a long time, through scripts or the same automation, but this program is much simpler and more intuitive.
The difference between the free version and the paid one (only $ 25!) is only in removing restrictions on the number of available tracks (up to 6 regular tracks, or 4 regular tracks + 1 Bus channel). At the same time, inside one track, you can “build floors” from different loops:

So the free version may be enough for most creative tasks, especially if the guitar is processed by an outdoor effects processor.
I am glad that it is very easy to create and add templates to the project based on ready-made tracks. That’s why you don’t have to adjust the inputs/outputs of the audio card to the tracks and so on every time.
VST plugins and instruments, of course, are supported, but only VST3 (because Steinberg stopped distributing licenses for VST2 – that’s what it says on the developer’s website). This is not particularly critical, because today most even old plugins have a VST3 version. There also Metaplugin by DDMF, which can host different plugin formats (but the price list, it should be noted, is quite big).
You can also throw pre-prepared audio and midi files into the project (unfortunately, you can’t edit the midi inside the program itself, only stuff it “live”).
Midi mapping in the form of Midi-learn is also available in the arsenal.

An important moment for users from Russia!
The installer can be downloaded on Plugins4free, but if you decide to go to the developer's website to buy the PRO version or view the manual, then in Russia it can only be done via VPN (in general, you won't be able to pay anyway, because none of the payment methods work in Russia for known reasons).
At the first launch, the program will think for a very long time - do not be afraid! This is due to the fact that she is trying to check for updates and cannot connect to the server.
After the program is still loaded, click on the question icon in the top menu, then "Check for new version". Again, wait until everything is lagged out. A dialog box will appear in which you need to remove the flag from the checkbox so that the program no longer tries to connect to the server in search of updates.
After these actions, everything will start quickly and without suspensions.

Guidelines for using the program can be found on the developer’s website – (the functionality is very impressive, I recommend studying these documentation before using it), and there are also several videos on Youtube:

This program made a strong impression on me, as well as sympathy for the project, because, apparently, it did not receive due attention.
I was already resigned to the fact that I would not be able to purchase the PRO version (and I want to, because the price is very acceptable) and I would get out of it with a free option, when suddenly there was a knock on my Youtube recommendations…

ALK2 by ZenAudio

A few of my conjectures and a brief history.
In 2015, a company of developers from ZenAudio launched an ambitious project to create and promote their product ALK – a hybrid of DAW and looper to implement intuitive scripted live looping. In 2018, ALK2 was released (it cost 200 bucks, by the way), and in 2020, the project was closed, parting, giving away free licenses.
The official website is no longer available today, but good people have posted an installer and a valid license key to it on Reddit .
Just in case, I will duplicate the files (including the macOS version) on Yandex.disk – 30mb.

The program is painfully similar to LoopToGo, observing the same principles: draw red bricks for recording, green for playback, program automation and so on. It seems that LoopToGo was created with a big eye on ALK2 (however, these are just my assumptions), while refining some aspects: more advanced and convenient sound routing (due to Bus channels), a useful template creation function, songlists (you can change projects on the fly), the ability to sign chords and lyrics, “multi-storey” loops and automation within one track (in ALK, a new track will have to be created for each new loop and automation), a more flexible system for configuring audio signal monitoring, as well as a convenient transition to the “classic looping” mode with the “overdub” function.
However, some points (like more visual Midi-learn and VST2 support) are better implemented in ALK2. Well, this is not surprising, because the project was developed for a long time and clearly had good production resources. And LoopToGo was published only at the end of 2021, and although it does not have such elegant promo videos and interface, it is still more thought out functionally.
A Youtube-channel, has been preserved from ZenAudio, where there is a good collection of tutorials on ALK:

Summing up, I can say that these programs may appeal to one-man/woman-banders for the unboring live-performance of their songs live; they will be interesting to loopers-improvisers for their jams (you can make several structural schemes and improvise inside them); and, perhaps, songwriters-composers who are in search of fresh approaches to composing music.
I recommend trying out both programs and, if possible, then purchase the paid version of LoopToGo, because $ 25 is an extremely good price for such a product. And since the project is still supported and developed by developers, this will be the best way to support their enthusiasm. After all, as can be seen from practice, the tool is extremely narrowly focused, and therefore it would be good to continue its development and thereby improve your performances.

1 comment
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments