Loopmasters update Loopcloud – the cloud connected app for streaming / importing samples into your DAW – to version 3

Loopmasters update Loopcloud – the cloud connected app for streaming / importing samples into your DAW – to version 3

Version 3 update
Loopmasters have updated Loopcloud to version 3. This brings the option to import your own or 3rd party samples into Loopcloud. This is a feature that has been requested by many users, it’s a superb addition and makes Loopcloud even better, especially if you have a number of sample packs that aren’t from Loopmasters.

Loopcloud will tag your samples with key, BPM, instrument and type so that you can search, time-stretch or pitch-shift and experiment with patterns to audition one-shot samples. You can get more information from the overview video:

Although DAWs will typically time-stretch samples natively, pitch shifting is usually a bit more involved and the advantage of Loopcloud is that it handles these tasks seamlessly within your workflow making the process so much easier and more streamlined within Loopcloud.

I use Loopcloud a lot, it’s a brilliant way to experiment with new styles and sounds and I can easily find inspiration by auditioning a few samples and creating a song from these. Sometimes sounds you think will go together don’t always work but Loopcloud makes it easy to audition samples to see how they sound together and sometimes doing something unexpected or using a sound from a totally different genre can work really well. Similarly using processing or effects in unusual ways can yield similarly interesting results. The album embedded above was created entirely using Loopcloud and adding effects to process the samples. It covers a range of electronic styles from deep house to techno to drum and bass. The two singles below were also created in the same way.

The core functionality and interface remains the same as version 2, the full review is below:

Loopcloud 2.0 review

Introduction
Loopcloud, the cloud-connected application for browsing, streaming and importing your samples, loops and sounds effortlessly into your DAW just got better.

It lets you audition the award-winning Loopmasters catalogue in your DAW, in perfect sync with your projects, for free! Now you can preview millions of sounds made by the world’s top artists – whether you own them or not – straight from the cloud. Only pay for what you need when you’re ready to commit and drag directly into your project. The world of music is changing, and so is Loopmasters. Loopcloud 2.0 makes it possible to buy just the individual samples you’ve auditioned, as well as full packs or folders of sounds. You can now preview sounds right inside the app – no need to open a browser or download and unzip.

Pricing and Availability
Loopcloud 2.0 is free software that can be downloaded here and does not require a subscription – individual sounds, folders and packs are purchased with credits. All users will be given 500 free credits to get started. Until August 1st, all users will receive double credits on their first purchase. Packs previously purchased on the Loopmasters website will also appear in your account on Loopcloud 2.0. Credits don’t expire and you are free to purchase individual samples or entire sample packs.

Promo video:

“10 reasons why Loopcloud 2.0 is a game changer” video:

Using Loopcloud 2.0
Download is quick and simple and you can set an option to automatically check for updates. I have about 8 sample packs on my account, on first launching the app it took about an hour and a half to initialise content. The app starts pretty quickly when you subsequently open it. You also need to open the VST in your DAW and Loopcloud will then connect so you can drag and drop samples, match DAW tempo etc.

Library View x2

The GUI is well laid out and easy to navigate. At the top right, you have the option to switch between library and store view as well as options for displaying history, adding credits and setting preferences.

The search section occupies the top quarter of the display, the library or store occupies the middle part of display and the sample player occupies the lower part of the display. A very handy history function can be displayed on the lower right hand side of the display.

There are millions of sounds in the store and the app has intelligent search features such as by instrument, genre, label, key & bpm. It allows you to audition the sound in your project – including processing with effects – before you commit to a purchase. If you enable the auto-key feature then the samples are automatically converted to your chosen key. It also connects seamlessly with your DAW so that when you preview loops they will sync to your existing sounds in your project. There are also play / pause controls and manual controls to change pitch, half or double the bpm and a handy patterns option that can be used for one shots such as hi-hat or snare to easily create a groove. When you click ‘download HQ sample’ this changes to original and processed where the original sample retains the key and bpm whereas the processed sample is bpm sync’d and pitch shifted. You simply drag these into your DAW.

sample_player_options

If you don’t want to time stretch or pitch correct samples then you can alternatively search by specific key / bpm which works really well, much better than in your DAW search, especially for keys that are common letters like A or E.

Store Search x2

You can search by library or store which gives you access to the entire Loopmasters catalogue containing millions of sounds. When you purchase a sample, you get the high quality version in original and processed formats. Purchased samples can be stored in the cloud or downloaded, one of the huge benefits is that Loopcloud 2.0 is cloud connected, saving valuable hard drive space.

Store Front x2.jpg

There are a number of free samples plus 150 free samples added every week into the ‘new inspiration from Loopmasters’ folder so you don’t necessarily need to make a lot of purchases. In fact you get about 1Gb samples when you sign up so you can give it a good test without making a purchase. Although I have 8 sample packs on my account, my library is significantly larger – that explains the long initial setup. A screenshot is shown below – I’d need about 3 of these to fit the whole library in. I’m not saying these are full sample packs but there’s a wealth of free content.

library_screenshot

How does it compare to other services?
The main alternatives are Splice and Noiiz which are both subscription services. All 3 offer features that will suit different users. The best value appears to be Noiiz which has exclusive Samplephonics content but the library is about 10x smaller at about 450 or so sample packs and requires an upfront payment of $99, about £73. This same spend would give about 15000 credits on Loopcloud under the current deal, equivalent to about 5 full packs, 150 – 600 samples depending on cost. The annual Splice membership would cost about the same, £70.80 per year, but there are limits on monthly downloads and the app isn’t as fully featured.

Loopcloud 2.0 can be very good value for money, especially if you buy credits at the current half-price deal or purchase sale packs on their website. Because you can audition and search the entire catalogue of millions of sounds, you can limit your purchases to a handful of samples that you need rather than a whole pack that you probably won’t use. This is where Loopcloud 2.0 comes into its own, it’s a cost effective way of purchasing only those samples you need, especially as there are 150 free samples per week. The fully featured app allows you to sync, change key and apply effects whilst auditioning samples before committing to a purchase. You can mix and match across the whole catalogue very easily by the intelligent search features.

Your monthly subscription at Splice buys download credits that you use to buy samples. Each sample costs 1 credit and there are four subscription options – $7.99 per month (100 download credits); $13.99 per month (300 download credits); $21.99 per month (600 download credits) or $29.99 per month (1000 download credits). There are also midi files (10 credits) and presets for Serum, Massive, Sylenth, and Spire (typically 3 credits).

Splice have over 2 million sounds that are added to each week. These include packs from Loopmasters, Black Octopus, Prime Loops, Sample Magic, W.A. Production and many more.

They also offer rent to own on several vsts and a studio feature where you can use the Splice app to upload, share and collaborate on projects in specified DAWs – Ableton Live, Logic, Garage Band, and FL Studio.

They don’t appear to offer a dedicated plugin with features like drag and drop, tempo matching etc.

Noiiz is a subscription service by Samplephonics and offers exclusively Samplephonics content. There are 3 subscription models. Starter is $9.99 per month for 1Gb downloads, 1 instrument per month and 1 preset pack per month; Unlimited is $99 for a yearly subscription and gives you access to everything with unlimited downloads; Lifetime is a one-off payment of $599. There are about 180,000 sounds that are added to regularly. They also offer presets for Serum, Sylenth and Massive. They have a sampler plus a growing number of instruments including handpan, celesta, grand marimba, Leeds Town Hall Organ and toy percussion.

The Noiiz plugin allows you to browse and audition sounds in tempo / key and drag and drop to your DAW. It has a ‘Noiiz DNA’ feature that searches for similar sounds.

Conclusions
The more I use Loopcloud, the more I like it and am starting to find it very useful. It’s easy and intuitive to use and definitely streamlines the creation process. It connects seamlessly with your DAW and makes it very easy to arrange songs, from the intelligent and well featured search functions to the autokey and time-stretching options. Being able to audition sounds before purchase is an invaluable feature and although they tend to have an ambient noise during the preview, this isn’t generally an issue.

Where Loopcloud really comes into its own is the way that it changes how I approach using samples – and it probably will for you too. The problem with packs is that they can be very expensive to buy – ranging from £15 to about £30. Of course you can pick them up much cheaper in sales, discounts etc. But the problem is that you generally only have one type of sound. Loopcloud enables you to mix and match in ways that wouldn’t be possible without owning a huge number of sample packs. It’s so much more than this though. Manually searching through sample packs is not quick or easy. DAWs will handle time-stretching ok but it’s quite laborious having to pitch correct every single sample. This is what makes Loopcloud so impressive, it works perfectly and easily handles these sort of tasks.

The other point is hard-drive space. The samples are downloaded to your hard-drive and for the album I’ve created the samples occupy 381Mb whereas if I had all of the sample packs this would run into a few Gb.

I’ve created the album embedded at the top of the post entirely using samples from Loopcloud. The samples have subsequently been processed with a variety of Eventide effects – Blackhole, 2016 Stereo Room, Octavox, H3000 Band Delays, H949 Dual Harmoniser and Ultrachannel and SpecOps (Unfiltered Audio). The songs were subsequently mastered with Magnetite (Black Rooster Audio), Elevate (Newfangled Audio) and Stage (Fiedler Audio). The album was arranged, recorded and mastered in MuLab 7.

The arrangement for ‘unrequited’ is shown below, this is a fairly simple arrangement but you could of course make your arrangement as simple or complex as you like or use any number of samplers – a few of my favourites are Palindrome, Polygon (Glitchmachines) and Dust (Soundmorph) – or use any number of effects to create a more experimental sound.

unrequited_screenshot

Some of these songs were created using loops from largely from the same pack but on others I’ve mixed up styles and genres, for example using loops from ambient sample packs combined with DnB loops; techno loops combined with underground garage loops etc. This is the beauty of Loopcloud, it offers huge creative potential and increases the usability of sample packs reducing the likelihood of you sounding like someone else who’s used it.

All of the samples were already in my library so cost data is a bit more tricky to calculate. I’ve used a total of 69 loops and I’ve estimated that these would cost 25 credits each. At the basic cost rate, this is £17.25 although with the current offer the cost would be half this at £8.68 and with the 500 credits introductory offer that would reduce the cost to about £4. Subsequent albums may not benefit from the discount but in practice you could use VST synths as well as sample loops, I wanted to create an album using only samples.

For me, subscription services are useful if you regularly use a large number of samples from the same providers. The benefit with Loopcloud is that you are not tied in to a subscription so you can still justify buying sample packs from other providers that aren’t featured in their store and you can limit your spending if you only buy what you need and make use of the extensive free content.

Loopcloud