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Re: multiple echoplex syncing (was: Hello and Help)

At 6:14 PM -0500 4/23/98, Dennis W. Leas wrote:
>Hello, All!
>I'm a new subscriber though a long-term looper.  I live in Lafayette,
>Indiana and am
>primarily a percussionist (strictly acoustic instruments) although I play
>a few
>non-percussion instruments as well.

welcome! and sorry I'm slow replying, but ya know, the life is too 

warning:  massive, possibly excruciatingly detailed, echoplex techno babble
commences from here on out, the rest of you might want to go back to
contemplating the beatle's tape loop usage or whatever...;-)

>I recently acquired a second Oberheim 'Plex with several goals in mind:
>  1) stereo looping
>  2) simultaneous unsynchronized loops
>  3) synchronized loops
>I'm having problems with number three.

first question: do both units have the new software upgrade? (LoopIIIv5.0)

This is exactly the sort of stuff that was a bit dodgy in the old echoplex
software, and works considerably better now. If your older unit has the
older software, you should definitely get it upgraded.

>I've read through the information on
>Looper's Delight regarding synchronizing.  I have the two loopers
>connected with a
>midi cable, one is set to SYNC out, 1/8s per beat to 1; the other is set
>to SYNC in,
>1/8s per beat to 8 (though I've tried all the values).  The two loopers
>synchronize how I imagine they would, i.e., they mostly do what I want.
>sometimes they don't.  For example, after building up a pattern in the
>master looper
>(via, record, overdub, multiply, nextloop-multiply, etc.) I want to record
>my first
>pattern into the slave.  I want an integral number of the slave loops to
>fit into
>the master loop.  Diagramatically,
>master loop: begin |---------------------------------------| end
>slave loop:  begin |---------| end
>so that, as they play together:
>master loop:       |---------------------------------------|
>slave loop:        |---------|---------|---------|---------|
>and we all make beautiful music together... :)
>If I perform only simple operations on the master, this seems to work.
>When I build
>up a loop in a more complicated fashion, I can't get the units to
>HELP!  I can't find enough details to figure out what is going on.

Well, I spent a couple of hours this afternoon syncing two echoplexes like
you're talking about, and didn't encounter any bug-like trouble, so I'm
currently of the belief that it should work. You didn't really say exactly
what the "complicated" actions were in building the initial loop, or what
exactly happened when the slave unit didn't do what you expected. Maybe you
could send me mail and fill in the details?

I'll see what I can suggest anyway:

It sounds like you have things basically set up correctly. One thing seems
a bit backwards though. You say the master has 8ths/beat = 1, and the slave
is 8ths/beat = 8. Then you say you are trying to get this to happen:

>master loop:       |---------------------------------------|
>slave loop:        |---------|---------|---------|---------|

If I were doing this, I would set the master to have the larger 8ths/beat
value (8) and the slave the smaller. (2 would be the right thing for your
diagram.)  Then you would record a loop on the master which would be
considered 4 beats long, and loops recorded on the slave could be done in
increments of 1 beat.

So I wonder if you are confused about what 8ths/beat does? That's easy to
do, actually, because it's a poorly named parameter. It should really be
called "8ths/cycle". (those crazy swiss and their english

The 8ths/beat parameter determines how many 8th notes the loop length
represents when generating midi clock. The echoplex uses that parameter and
the loop length to determine what tempo to set the clock to.

For example, if 8ths/beat = 8 the basic loop length will represent 8 8th
notes, which of course is 4/4. If you create a 2 second loop, the echoplex
will consider that to be .25 seconds per 8th note, or 120 BPM, and transmit
midi clock at that tempo. If you set the second unit to have 8ths/beat = 2,
it will consider a basic loop length to have two 8th notes, or 1 beat in
4/4 time. So if the second unit is syncing to the first unit, it will
create loops in increments of .5 seconds, or one beat. This should allow
you to get what you've diagrammed above.

but then, maybe that's not your problem..... You mentioned using multiply a
lot. When I was playing around with this today, I noticed I could sometimes
screw things up if I didn't think about what I was doing with multiply.
(actually, I was mostly screwing my perception of things up....)

One bit of advice: turn the quantize parameter on. Using multiply while
syncing two or more units is a lot easier if the multiply automatically
starts at the cycle boundary.  If you don't have quantize on, it will still
sync up properly, but the multiply counts on the master's display will
probably end up out of phase with any multiply counts on the slave's
display. Like I say, they will actually still be in sync, but when you look
at it you will think they aren't because the displays won't change
together. If quantize is on, the multiply displays will change together,
and it will look right.

Another thing to realize is that the slave is receiving midi clock as soon
as you first record the loop on the master unit. Midi clock doesn't say
anything about where the beats are located, it just defines a tempo by
sending 24 pulses per quarter note. The slave keeps track of where the
beats are by counting the pulses. (that's true of anything, not just

If you have 8ths/beat set differently on master and slave, they will have a
different idea of where the downbeats of their loop measures are located.
So when you do a multiply on the master, it's multiply display will be
counting according to it's original loop length. The slave's idea of where
it's loop downbeat should be located will regularly changing against the
master's multiply count, even if you haven't recorded a loop on the slave
yet, since it is just sitting there counting the midi clock pulses. So when
you do hit record on the slave, it will just happily wait until it's idea
of the downbeat arrives, and start recording. If you are not thinking about
what is going on, this might not be where you expect it to be! It will
still be in sync with the master, but it might take some practice on your
part to get the hang of where it will come in.

Where this can get really funky is when you have done multiply on the
master's loop several times. Each time you do a multiply, the point where
you hit multiply becomes the beginning of multiple "1". The "1" position
can be moved around if you start multiply in different places. (this is
where having quantize on is a really good idea.)  The slave doesn't know
anything about that, because all it gets is midi clock and it has been
happily keeping track of midi clock pulses to determine where the beats
are. So while it will still be synchronized to the master, it's idea of
beat one might moved around a lot in relation.

For example, say you've got the master's 8ths/beat=1, and the slave's
8ths/beat=8, like you say above. Let's say you've already multiplied a loop
on the master to 8, and you were smart enough to start the multiply right
at beat 1 in the 4/4 time that the slave is tracking. So the master's loop
is now equal to one 4/4 measure,  counting 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8. The slave's
sync LED should be flashing each time the master's display goes to 1.  Then
you decide to shorten the master loop to 4 multiples. Instead of pressing
Multiply right as the display says "1", you press it right as the display
says "4". (that's the "and" of 2, from the slaves point of view.) You
capture multiples 4-5-6-7. The master, however, will now call these
1-2-3-4. If you've managed to follow this, you'll see the master's 1
multiple falls at what the slave thinks is "and of 2" and "and of 4". So if
you now record your first loop on the slave, things might seem out of 

I know this seems mind-numbingly confusing, but if you think about it a bit
and understand what's going on, you should be able to get the hang of it
pretty quickly. I hadn't really played this sort of setup much before
today. I had tested it a lot, but never actually sat there using it. I had
trouble with the multiply thing at first, and had some trouble getting
things rhythmically organized. After a bit of practice I was doing fine
though. Practice with it some and see if it starts to work, or feel free to
ask more questions.

hope this helps,


Kim Flint                   | Looper's Delight
kflint@annihilist.com       | http://www.annihilist.com/loop/loop.html
http://www.annihilist.com/  | Loopers-Delight-request@annihilist.com