What is a “loop rig?” A loop rig is a collection of gear used to manipulating or triggering sounds from a loop-based DAW such as Ableton Live, Fruity Loops, or Reason. Lots of worship teams are now integrating loops and multi-track / stem recordings into their services. In some cases, the loops are used to augment the musicians – adding strings, backing vocals, or other instruments. In other cases, they can be used to replace missing musicians. If your acoustic guitar player can’t make next week’s service, you can have them record the parts ahead of time and just trigger them on Sunday.
What do you need to set up a loop rig? It depends on what you’re looking to accomplish. The simplest setups can consist of just an iPod or CD player! Set up an audio file with a backing track on the left channel and a click track with cues on the right. The music goes to the front-of-house and the click + cues get fed to the musicians on stage through their monitor mix. This rig isn’t ideal, since you don’t really have any control over tempo or the arrangement, but it is a good way to get your feet wet without spending a lot of money.
Replace the iPod or CD Player with a laptop running a loop DAW like Ableton Live, add in a MIDI controller for triggering scenes, and you’ve got yourself a loop rig.
Here are a couple of sample loop rigs:
This one has two DMC-6D controllers connected to a MacBook, each one set to send commands on a different MIDI channel. Each button can trigger a different section of your songs, like the intro / verse / chorus / bridge / tag. The two expression pedals on the right also send MIDI commands, and may be used for track volume, effects sends, etc.
Here’s a different kind of setup:
The DMC-6D is still there, and still triggers scenes / clips in Ableton Live over USB. The DMC-6D has a MIDI output that connects to the SMARTLoop and to the Line 6 M5 multi-effects unit. It’s easy to set up Ableton to send out a MIDI command through the DMC-6D when you launch the intro, verse, chorus, etc. and that lets you change up your sounds automatically! The DMC-6D also passes MIDI clock to any connected devices, which means that the M5 will lock in to the tempo of your loops and synchronize your delays or other effects. No tap tempo required.
We’ve got some video demos showing how to use the DMC-6D with Ableton Live, including info on setting up your tracks, configuring expression pedals, and using the MIDI port to connect your other MIDI devices. Check them out below.
If you’re using Ableton Live or other looping DAW applications in your worship service or live gigs, please contact us! We’d love to hear your tips or suggestions for making the most of your loop rig hardware.