It’s been a couple of years since I reviewed Loopcloud. That was back at version 3. It’s fair to say that Loopcloud has undergone somewhat of a revolution since then.
The first point to note is that Loopcloud now offers a subscription service. That said, you don’t have to subscribe to Loopcloud, you can use the free version and take a pay as you go approach and purchase sample packs from loopcloud.com and these will appear in your Loopcloud library. The free version lets you browse and search over 20,000 samples, add your own samples, access the loop editor, offers a multi-track with two tracks and you’ll get 5 free samples a day.
There are 3 subscription plans available and you can also try the Studio subscription plan free for 30 days.
Artist – includes the full Loopcloud experience, 5GB cloud storage, FX, multitrack (eight tracks), 100 credits per month, a library of 3.5 million samples – plus 10 free samples per day.
Studio – includes the full Loopcloud experience, 50GB cloud storage, FX, multitrack (eight tracks), 300 credits per month, a library of 3.5 million samples – plus 20 free samples per day.
Professional – you can sync up to four computers and still get the full Loopcloud experience on each. You’ll also receive 250GB cloud storage, FX, multitrack (eight tracks), 600 credits per month, a library of 3.5 million samples – plus 50 free samples per day.
A summary of these plans and the prices of each is shown below:
Loopcloud has undergone somewhat of a revolution in its relatively short history and it is invaluable if you use loops in your music. Despite my misgivings about subscription services, Loopcloud does offer excellent value for money and the 30 day free trial is a no brainer.
The whole song creation process is streamlined, it goes way beyond a sample loop manager to being a total creative tool. It handles changing the bpm and pitch of loops with unnerving ease; auditions multiple samples; layers loops to create new ones; applies creative effects. I’ve tried using loops without it – noticeably a much slower and more laborious task. Whilst you could argue a DAW can easily handle these tasks and you’d be right, having all of this workflow in Loopcloud is so much quicker.
Cloud storage is another benefit of a subscription plan, it allows you to save valuable hard drive space.
Subscription also allows you to use Loopcloud credits. You’ll get some per month dependent on your subscription plan as shown in the table above. These allow you to buy individual loops rather than whole packs which provides much better value for money as well as purchasing presets and plugin expansions. You can buy more credits if required and they cost between 3 – 5p each depending on whether you buy 100 (£4.99), 250 (£7.99) or 500 (£14.99). Loops typically cost 1 or 2 credits; play packs are typically 40 credits; drum packs are typically 60 credits.
The addition of two VSTs – drum and play extends the use of loops and offers further creative potential.
I use it extensively, the albums embedded at the top of this section are examples of music I have created using Loopcloud.
Loopcloud runs as a standalone program with a VST you load into your DAW that automatically links to the standalone program.
The top section contains the free search box as well as drop down menus for instruments, genres, labels, format, key & bpm. To the right are your account settings and menus.
The main part of screen can be switched using the home and library tabs. Home is the Loopcloud store view, library shows your own collection, you can add your own samples as well as containing your purchased ones.
Below this are a number of controls including bpm and pitch. When you connect to a DAW, Loopcloud will automatically use the DAW’s tempo. You can manually or automatically alter the sample’s pitch. Other controls on this row include zoom, editing tools and a handy pattern generator that has a large number of presets for kicks, basses, arps, leads, percussion and many more. This is really useful to create drum patterns or add variation to sample loops.
The bottom part of the screen displays the tracks and the waveform of the selected sample. The tracks can be used to quickly audition sounds and see what they sound like together. This is very useful when playing loops from different genres, Loopcloud easily handles stretching samples to fit the bpm and key. You can of course do this in a DAW but Loopcloud makes the whole process so much easier, from searching to find the loops to adjusting them to fit. An example of how good these features work is that you can select loops from different styles, bpm ranges and keys and the adjustments that Loopcloud makes means they fit together and you can create interesting and inspiring grooves in seconds.
Another option is to combine multiple loops and export them as one and a very cool feature is to apply effects to a loop. There are a range of delays, reverbs, filters, grain stretch and more. You can edit and automate parameters. Again you can do this in a DAW but it’s so much easier doing this in Loopcloud to export the processed sample for use in your project.
This can create anything from filter sweeps and subtle movement to mangling the loop to make it unrecognisable.
Loopcloud also has two plugins, Loopcloud Play and Loopcloud Drum.
Loopcloud Drum is a sample based drum machine that is very well featured. There are a number of packs included with more available from the Loopcloud store and you can import your own samples too.
Drum goes beyond a basic drum machine, it reminds me a bit of Breaktweaker by iZotope in that it has drum sounds as well as synths and percussive sounds and can produce complex drum patterns. It has a 16 step sequencer with A and B patterns and a couple of different play variations. There are a number of controls to adjust the sound – tuning, envelope, filter – as well as reverb and delay effects and a well featured mixer.
You can also export patterns as audio or midi and save them in Loopcloud so that you can use midi patterns with other kits for example. This is very flexible, you can export a kick pattern or combination of multiple samples as required.
There are also ‘load locking’ options so you can load effects or parameters from a different pack whilst keeping the same samples or vice versa.
Loopcloud Play is a sampler based instrument that like drum has a number of factory presets and further presets available from Loopcloud. Each preset has a limited set of four controls and filter settings with access to full settings in edit mode that gives you full control over parameters such as sample start, stretch, LFO, tilt; filter and amp envelopes; distortion, reverb, chorus effects; mod wheel assignments and a limiter.
Play has a similar load locking option so that you can set parameters with filters, envelopes and effects and load a different preset with these settings.
Whilst Loopcloud runs perfectly ok on my somewhat aging laptop, I found that Drum works in Hollyhock but not MuLab and Play doesn’t work in either so it’s worth checking the specs.