Retronyms are a well known brand within the iOS music technology world. I think it’s probably fair to say that they have had some successes – AudioCopy, for example – but also some (potentially good) ideas that, for one reason to another, have not quite worked out or found a big enough audience to really thrive. However, their latest offering – Looperverse – which appeared on the App Store for the first time yesterday, is already attracting quite a lot of attention.
As the name (and be careful just how you pronounce it) suggests, this is an app centred around audio loops and Retronyms describe is as a ‘multitrack loop recorder’. At first glance, it gives the visual impression of something quite DAW-like but, in fact, Looperverse is perhaps more likely to interest those with a fondness for looper apps such as Loopy HD or Quantiloop or Ostinator or LooperSonic (or, in fact, a few others; there are quite a lot of them).
Under iOS, these sorts of looper apps can, at one level, be divided into two types; those that try to emulated the looper experience that you might find with a stomp-box style guitar looper and those that… well… don’t. And perhaps the two obvious examples would be Quantiloop and Loopy HD respectively, although Quantiloop would be a very well-specified piece of hardware if it existed and Loopy HD, despite its more abstract UI (less of a footpedal reference) could certainly be used in that way.
Anyway, Looperverse is now added to the party. As mentioned earlier, it brings a more DAW-like visual approach but the feature set is bound to be of interest to looper fans. You get a 16 track loop recorder, basic mixing facilities, options for waveform editing, quantise options, IAA, Audiobus (noteworthy in an Retronyms product) and Ableton Link, MIDI including MIDI Learn, Audiocopy, AudioPaste and stems export options, tap tempo, various audio effects and, very interestingly, time and pitch shifting. Projects also offer ‘scenes’ for different ‘song sections’. The app is launched at UK£9.99/US$9.99, is universal and requires iODS8.0 or later.
Of course, compared to a hardware looper device, one of the downsides of an iOS app it triggering the various controls. In a typical guitar/singer performance context, you are not going to want to take your hands off your instrument to tap the screen…. although used in a song writing or studio context, this is perhaps less of an issue.
Most of the popular looper apps now offer some level of MIDI support so you can use a suitable MIDI pedalboard via MIDI (wired or Bluetooth assuming you have suitable hardware) to control the app’s functions. Boards such as the iRig BlueBoard or Positive Grid BT series hardware are designed with this sort of use in mind, although there are other products available as MIDI switching via floorboards is something lots of touring/professional guitar players are using.
However, in addition to the app itself, Retronyms are obviously quite keen to solve that hardware-based control issue themselves. Also now released is the Looperverse pedal. While it is not essential for using the app (you can use it via the touchscreen or with any other MIDI footswitching pedal), the hardware is obviously designed from the ground up to work with Looperverse. It offers six footswitches and Bluetooth MIDI connectivity. Priced at US$199, it is not a trivial investment though…. so I guess it will only be of real interest to those who (a) fall in love with the app and (b) are going to put the whole system to some serious use in a studio or (more likely) performance context.
Anyway, I’m not sure if I’ll be able to get hold of the hardware to review but I’ll certainly give the app a review as soon as I’ve had a chance to fully explore. Until then, check out the demo videos below and the then hit the download button to find out more via the App Store.