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Interesting Posts Series:

FeedBack in the Loop

Date: Wed, 11 Sep 1996 12:49:36 -0500 (CDT)
From: Dave Stagner

Here's a technique I use with the JamMan to get a more flexible, improvisational feel from it. When I first got it, I tended to use it to start a loop, then punch in more layers. But what I found was that things just got bigger and louder and bigger and louder. It had a very one-way dynamic. Now, rather than using the looping functions, I usually prefer to just use its delay function. There are 16 delay feedback levels, controlled by the knob on the front. Turn the feedback up high and start looping. At 16, you effectively have infinite repeat. As things build, you can turn the feedback down and let a loop fade, then turn it back up and add more to the loop while the older material floats in the background. This makes for a much more dynamic and rewarding looping improv, I think.

Date: Wed, 11 Sep 1996 12:49:59 -0700
From: finley@ecst.csuchico.edu (Matthew F. McCabe)

Dave, that's a great idea. I just tried it and it works wonderfully....although now I must rush back to work....

Using your idea, loopers will be able to create continuous loops that can change textures and tonal centers over time. Very cool!

Date: Wed, 11 Sep 1996 12:49:36 -0500 (CDT)
From: Dave Stagner

Actually, credit should go as much to Robert Fripp and Frippertronics as to me. I got the idea from listening to _Let the Power Fall_, Fripp's classic looping album. He would do the same trick, building a little structure with the loop, then fading it into the background and building more on top of it. Sometimes you can hear several old structures still beeping away in the murk while he's adding new notes. And those Revox tape machines sounded SO nice.

Date: Thu, 12 Sep 1996 03:53:37 -0800
To: Loopers-Delight@annihilist.com
From: kflint@annihilist.com (Kim Flint)

Control over feedback is one of the most fundamental loop techniques. Without it your loops just develop to a certain point, abruptly disappear, and a new loop begins developing. You don't have any continuity, so your loops can't grow and evolve into something else. With the echoplex we give 3 ways to do this; the knob on the front, a jack on the back for a foot pedal, and midi continuous control. Being a guitarist, I use the footpedal method. I couldn't live without it, I vary the feedback constantly to let things disappear at different rates or stay around for a while.

I didn't realize the Jamman only gave 16 different levels. That seems sort of limiting to me, but even so I think it can open up a lot of doors for you if you haven't been using it much. Try it out, it definitely opens up the possibilities for loop improvs.

Date: Fri, 13 Sep 1996
From: matthias@bahianet.com.br (Matthias)

VERY important, this discovery, at least for me looping started when I connected a volume pedal into the FeedBack loop of a Roland 3000 delay. That is why we spend about one third of the processor power in the Echoplex for the 256 step glitch free FeedBack control. So please connect a pedal to it!

Date: 13 Sep 96 08:12:30 EDT
From: Jon Durant<74074.1316@compuserve.com>

OK, now the Jamoisity: I'm now using two JamMen. One in front of effectoids, one in back of effectoids. Generally, the front Jamperson is used as long echo, wherin I'll play with the feedback control throughout the piece, sometimes longer, sometimes shorter, depending on where I'm going. The second Jamperson is the looper, where I'll be able to loop the effected stuff, and go beserk on top of it. There are several pieces on the new record where this stuff will be in evidence. Mostly, though it allows quite a bit of freedom. My single biggest gripe with the JamMan is that you can't loop from within the Echo mode. A simple request, but it didn't get done. So, this allows me to do something like it. You can go to 100% feedback, but everything you play gets added in...

Date: Tue, 17 Sep 1996 12:37:59 -0500 (CDT)
From: Dave Stagner

Someone here suggested trying to put my Vortex into the feedback loop of the JamMan manually, using a mixer. I tried it and it was interesting, but hard to control. I couldn't get a good balance between looping and feedback, and distorting the input on the JamMan is NOT pretty.

I'm hoping to rewire things tonight to split the output from the Vortex and send it to the mixer and the JamMan separately, then mix the JamMan back in at the output. That way, I could control the JamMan's delay feedback without always sending signal into it. Ideally, I'd like to do this with a couple of stereo volume pedals, so I can control both the input to the JamMan and its output.

Date: Tue, 17 Sep 1996 13:14:05 -0400 (EDT)
From: ejmd@erols.com (Ed Drake)

Dave- I tried it and loved it but as Jon Durant pointed out it is a bummer that you can't loop it and play over it without adding what you are playing to the echo. Thanks anyway because I had not thought of using the Jamman like that and it does give a different approach to the looping.

Date: Wed, 18 Sep 1996 01:41:38 -0800
From: kflint@annihilist.com (Kim Flint)

That is a bummer. I didn't realize the jamman couldn't do that. It's really a very useful technique to have the feedback turned down a bit while you continue playing. Constantly evolving textures and all. Of course you know that I'm going to go on about how the echoplex does this. I've got a big mail backlog and don't really have time so just pretend I'm saying it and we'll move on here. [blah, blah, blah]

>That way, I could control the
>JamMan's delay feedback without always sending signal into it.

I've been meaning to try something like this for a long time. I really want a looper to have an effects loop in the feedback path so I can have my loops change in some way with each pass. It occured to me some time back that this could probably be done with two loopers (jammans or echoplexes I suppose, and I'm sure there was a reason for why I thought I needed two to do this rather than one, but I'm not remembering it now). The feedback path could be set up externally and effects easily patched in. The downside is the unintentional effect of passing the loop through A/D / D/A conversions repeatedly.

Date: Thu, 19 Sep 1996
From: matthias@bahianet.com.br (Matthias)

The Plex uses a 256 step value and filters it almost evey sample so you can smothly and quickly change it. I strongly suggest a pedal. In longer loops you maybe want to grow only a part of it: For example: Open +Overdub+ and reduce Feedback while opening the volume pedal so the sound you hear from the Loop will be replaced next time around by the one you fade in now. Not very difficult to imagine how it will sound. Then as your note fades, you open Feedback again and have a phase of the loop as it was before.

+Replace+ is a function we have for this, but is to hard for most aplications because it chops off/on. With the FB pedal, you do it more creative and smooth.

Sometimes in long loops (like 25sec) I start increasing the dynamics every turn around, rather taking back one part and then crescendo in to the full part...

As it does not make sense to infinitally increase the content of the memory, we reduce automatically the FB a little while +Overdub+ is on. This prevents from the worst noises when somebody forgets +Overdub+ on.

When you reduce FeedBack, **reduce loop time, too!** (Million times executed experience - how it works for me):

Most music (and stories in general) has its static phase (contemplation, solo) and its dynamic phases (walking, discovering). Obviously, FB open is for the static and reduced for the dynamic phase.

Since in the static phase you have time, you will multiply and increase loop time to make the loop more interesting, maybe less obvious. Then, when you enter a dynamic phase, its a drag, because changes take to long, or take a too radical reduction of FB which cuts the flow. So you reduce FB little, but also reduce loop time! If the loop is rather an educated one with a harmony sequence, built with +Multiply+, you will aply +Multiply+ by 1 or 2 when the basic harmony comes back. The loop stays on this base, maybe 4 or 8 times shorter, which gives you the chance to change it gradually and then build (use +Multiply+ again) a new harmony sequence.

If the loop is rather of the anarchistic/ambient kind, you can reduce it with +Unrounded Multiply+, which is called by the RECORD following the MULTIPLY key. This way you can cut out any bit, as short as you want, mayb even aplying +Unrounded Multiply+ 2 or 3 times in a row, to really chop up the worm before the part with the heart grows again with more heads even... urgh, ahem,,,;-)
I did not try this and do not even feel like, right now. Just thinking: I think you will use this external FB path only every now and then, and keep the loop going with its internal FB. So once you set up the mixer conection with the Looper feeding the effect and the effect feeding the looper, you can use the +Replace+ function to switch to the external FB path. With +Overdub+ it will grow, which might be usefull sometimes in such a context. To load the loop, you would have to disconect the effect, either with its +bypass+ function (if it mutes the effect) or by closing the effects channel or Aux knob.

Date: Thu, 19 Sep 1996 15:10:38 -0700 (PDT)
From: rpeck@PureAtria.COM (Ray Peck)

>It is a bummer that you can't loop it and play over it without adding what
>you are playing to the echo.

I guess maybe I don't understand the issue, since I'm not familiar with the Jamman. If the problem is that you want to play over the echo without adding to the echo, why not add a footswitch to bypass around the box? Better yet, a 1-into-2 fader, where one output goes directly to your mixer, and one goes through the jamman to the mixer? That way you could have very quiet "echos" of your solos loop along as you continued "non-loop playing".

>I've been meaning to try something like this for a long time. I really want
>a looper to have an effects loop in the feedback path so I can have my
>loops change in some way with each pass.
>The downside is the unintentional effect of passing the loop through A/D /
>D/A conversions repeatedly.

They could supply the effects in/out as digital s/pdif, which wouldn't add much to the base cost. You could go right through an effects unit with digital in/out, and they could sell an add-on A/D D/A box for people with analogue effects that want to use this technique.

Date: Fri, 20 Sep 1996 04:19:36 -0800
From: kflint@annihilist.com (Kim Flint)

sp/dif means two extra ic's, neither of which are very cheap, two extra connectors and rear panel space, extra board area, clock oscillator, and various passive components. On a low volume product, (anything in the music industry is low volume) this can mean adding anywhere from $40 to $80 to the list price of the product. Most effects boxes don't use digital audio, those that do are mostly high-end and use aes/ebu (sp/dif is a consumer format), which is more expensive. Big hit for something that 99% of the current market will never use. See how hard this stuff is? Its a wonder anything gets made....

Date: Wed, 25 Sep 1996 11:41:43 -0700 (PDT)
From: Ray Peck

Having done CPU design in a previous life (it's in the Sony Playstation), I think I know what this takes. If you're doing your own processing ASIC as I understand Digitech does, for example, adding s/pdif would add a very minimal amount of chip area, and only two pins. Testing for this kind of serial protocol would also not be too difficult.

But OK, if you're not building a custom ASIC, it might be harder. However, there are other solutions. You can bring out a proprietary ribbon-connector cable on the back panel, and sell a s/dif aes/ebu convertor seperately. This feature would add minimal cost, and would allow you another point with which to hype the product. If a company made a series of effects boxes with this sort of proprietary-but-convertible digital interface, they'd have a lot to tout, and would tend to "lock" people in to their product lines due to better performance.

Date: Tue, 24 Sep 1996
From: matthias@bahianet.com.br (Matthias)

>Why not add a footswitch to bypass
>around the box? Better yet, a 1-into-2 fader, where one output goes
>directly to your mixer, and one goes through the jamman to the mixer?

This is how we did it with the Roland 3000, tc 2290, PCM42, and then the dedicated machine came... To have a signal only looped I did not find usefull. I need to hear it as I play it. I sometimes used a volume pedal for the input of the loop so I could play a note and fade it into the loop so it would come back without attack. This is nice, because you can play a clear, attacky melody and "digest" its fundamental notes into a smooth loop. But then again, the more options you have, the more you have to control...

>They could supply the effects in/out as digital s/pdif, which wouldn't >add much to the base cost. You could go right through an effects unit >with digital in/out, and they could sell an add-on A/D D/A box for >people with analogue effects that want to use this technique.

... as you recognized, the feedback is an internal digital thing, and a analog FB loop would be costy, but a digital one - something to think about. The A/D D/A box to it, I do not see would be commercially possible.

The loop machine we dream of, ofcourse would contain its own effects and manners to control them in a way it makes sense. I the 'Plex sells decently, this will be possible.

Date: Fri, 4 Oct 1996 01:23:51 -0700 (MST)
From: matthias@bahianet.com.br (Matthias)

Teed Rockwell said a while ago:
>If you want to sound like an Ordinary delay unit, set the Feedback at about
>twelve o'clock, and keep the Overdub button on.

Right! Thats why I never use the Delay Mode.

>I find it easier to work with the feedback knob than a feedback pedal. You can
>position the knob in a variety of diffferent ways, and remember what those
>positions sound like, which is not easy to do with a pedal. Also, There's
>usually lots of time to reach over and tweak the knob once you get a good loop

Yeah, but a quick "tweak" leaves a "step" in the loop afterwards. It should be possible to get used to a feedback pedal. I use a P+G fader, operated by foot. Its position is well defined and visible and I can operate it really slow while playing. (And it brings me some fame as the one that plays bare foot ;-) )

>The speed at which you move the feedback knob will effect the sound that
>>occcurs in the loop afterwards, but I'm not sure exactly how. Any Info on
>from anyone?

Just imagine that you are *mixing* the sound you hear from the running loop with the one you are playing into the new loop you will hear next time around, beeing that the feedback knob is the volume for the running loop. So a quick move of the feedback will come back as quick fade from then on. Is that understandable? I find it very hard to explain those things.

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