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GarageBand and SooperLooper


      
      

      
      
      
        
      
    

I've been doing a bit of research for some looping videos on AudioPropellor.com - trying to push the limits of what you would think GarageBand can do.  Unfortunately the limits have been adjusted downwards lately in the name of usability.  Maybe I shouldn't have given up so easily, but I think I'm done.  One problem is that GarageBand automatically adjusts latency, where you used to be able to pick your latency, that is no longer an option.  Good for the average user I suppose.  This would lead to problems with using Jack to pipe audio around - although it doesn't really make sense to me, I would get sample rate errors when changing the buffer in Jack to get the latency down.  512 was good sometimes, and then it needed 128 - then it didn't like anything.  Also, when using Jack as an output, the audio inputs in GarageBand would be very distorted, delayed and pitch-shifted - an interesting sound, but not what everyon is after!  So after a few hours of playing around, I gave up.  I learned a few things along the way. 

A plugin which seems tailored to get around GarageBand's lack of midi output options - MidiO.  You can use it as an Audio Instrument and feed it quarter notes - it will output MIDI to the MIDI input of your choosing.  I was using it to feed midi timeclock to SooperLooper - and it was working reasonably well.  The only shortcoming was that stop messages were not causing SooperLooper to stop playing. 

Also in play were the trusty MIDI monitor and MIDI patchbay.  MIDI monitor is great for seeing what is going on MIDI-wise in your system.  MIDI patchbay plugs my audio interface MIDI input into SooperLooper - which now has a convenient learn feature when you right click on a control - nicely done!

But wait...I failed to mention that the configuration I was going for was where you could pipe any output to SooperLooper - SL was running outside GarageBand.  This would make up for GarageBand's lack of busses - otherwise you can only put SooperLooper on one instrument in GarageBand, in that case it works fine for some single instrument jamming.  Still I was finding some weirdness when using the overdub function on a reversed loop.  The problems just never end.  I'll have to try the same thing in Logic and see if it's reproducible.  The developer for SooperLooper is very responsive to any feedback and has made changes in the past. I recommend you check SooperLooper out - it's pretty cool.

I'm still up for learning some more about GarageBand.  But in the meantime I'm going to be trying out Mobius, the other free looping plugin.  Doing all of this in preparation for a 'survey of looping' on AudioPropellor - which will be some kind of eBook slash Video extravaganza. 

Power Links.

SooperLooper - http://www.essej.net/sooperlooper/

Mobius - http://www.circularlabs.com/download/download.html

midiO - http://mysite.verizon.net/retroware/

MIDI Patchbay - http://notahat.com/midi_patchbay

MIDI Monitor - http://www.snoize.com/MIDIMonitor/