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Looping and Mixing/Mixing Loops

Hello all,

Some recent discussion on the list (when not heatedly debating Youtube sensations, of course) has focused not just on looping but also on recording and mixing generally. That there is a high level of expertise on these subjects in the LD community is perhaps not surprising but it raises some questions in my mind about the relationship between looping and recording/mixing.

Since we're generally talking about LIVE looping then many of the practices of recording musicians just don't apply - for example, we don't do take after take trying to make things perfect, we work with the imperfections inherent in performance, etc. And yet, on the other hand, ultimately what we're doing is recording and combining multiple layers of audio and so many principles of 'non-real time' recording and mixing are very important.

For example, I use a laptop, an Apogee Duet and Mobius hosted in Ableton Live to loop my guitar. One problem I've struggled with is how to set up an appropriate gain structure to keep the noise floor low (very important if you're using single coils!) while not clipping the inputs or eating up headroom in the software too quickly, using up space for further loops.

With an instrument like an electric guitar that has a large dynamic range and can fill up the audio spectrum quite quickly I've found that compression, limiting and EQ are as essential to my setup as anything else.

But enough about me!

What's your experience with this relationship?

Do you 'mix' your loops as you go or simply adjust your technique to achieve a range of sounds?

Do you anticipate the needs of the audio you're about to record or tweak things as you go?

Do you find that lessons learned in mixing recorded music inform your looping (or vice versa)?

Am I just over-thinking the grand old art of the loop?