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Manual Loops


Let’s talk about the Manual Loops unit, because, well, I don’t think we have yet. :slight_smile:

From the wiki:

No one really knows. The leading theory at the moment is that this is just another (interesting) way to scrub through a sample.

That made me smile. Then I decided it was challenge, haha.

I think one of my applications will be “cultivating and curating new samples.”

This was my experiment this evening. I downloaded an iPhone app called myTuner Radio, which is kind of interesting in its own right, set the country to Japan (figuring the ER-301 was made in Japan and it might bring me some good luck). I then tried some random radio stations that I couldn’t read the names of until I found something interesting, took a regular patch cable and connected the iPhone headphone jack to IN1, and set the gain control to 4x line level. (I realize this was only getting 1/2 of a stereo signal, but no biggie, it was easy and sounded OK).

I then put in a Dub Looper with a 10 second buffer and captured a 10s audio clip. I put a Manual Loops unit after it, and shared the buffer from the Dub Looper. I usually had the max len control set ~1 sec, and then just experimented wildly with len, start, speed, and also connected a keyboard up to V/Oct.

Setting len very low, you can find all kinds of interesting single-cycle type wave forms. Setting it a bit longer and then fine tuning start, speed, etc. there are all kinds of interesting one shot type samples.

This unit is really cool. It made it very easy to take some random samples pulled from internet radio, inject them straight into my modular, and find all kinds of useful stuff in there in a very interactive, fun, exploratory way.

Here are a couple ideas I think would make the unit even better:

  • Add a playback mode once/repeat option, and a gate so that you can play it this way if you want to, as well as verify your sample trimming work is good. Sometimes it’s hard to know where the beginning and end are if it’s constantly looping a really short sample.
  • Add an option to export the current loop as defined by the controls to a new buffer of exactly that length. That would make it super easy to throw into one of the other variable or grain based players without having to do any additional slicing or editing.

So have you all tried this unit? How are you using it?


I’ve enjoyed loading in an entire song into the Manual Looper and modulating both the start and length parameters with different LFO’s each at different rates and wave shapes in order to create a remix of said song. Very basic stuff but good for a few hours of happy accidents so far. Forgive me, I’m new.


Actually that sounds pretty fun. :slight_smile:


Using it for the first time (I think?) right now. Getting some cool Morphagene-esque sounds by uping the v/o to 24/3600 and modulating start/len times and mixer panning with sample+hold/slew. I’m having fun :+1:


Been playing around with the manual loops unit today with some ambient live loop guitar mangling, its been fun! setup was :

Guitar input -> feedback looper (Buffer) -> Manual Loops (shared Buffer) : Modulated V/O, Start, Len -> output to filter / Fx etc = lots of happy accidents and interesting sounds! :sunglasses:


That sounds like fun. I’ve plugged my guitar into the modular a few times but haven’t really found my zen space with that yet.

What kind of modulators did you use on the manual loops parameters? S&Hs? LFOs? Envelope followers?


I used my Batumi, Black Octasource and Voltage Block.
Nothing scientific and measured just plugging stuff in and observing what happens :crazy_face:


Similar vibe here! The VB works well for easy tweaking of mod amounts.


Taking a poke at this unit for the first time and it seems to have really cool potential for beat chopping.

However, I am perplexed by the “length” parameter. For reference, I am using a drum break four measures long. 11.294 seconds long.

A value of 1.0 plays the whole sample… ok makes sense. I would expect a value of 0.5 to play half the sample, but the entire sample plays through. Ok, set the length to .25 and the sample loops back to the start at roughly 8 seconds.

I’d really love to be able to set these lengths to even divisions of the beat, but I can’t figure out what scale length is working at. It’s not particularly intuitive whatever it is. The start parameter works exactly as I would expect so not sure what’s going on with this.

It would also be amazing to have a view of the waveform with these params visualized like so many other units have, but at the moment i’m stuck going to the Edit Sample menu to just see the playhead.

V0.4.x Firmware Workout: Goofing off never felt this hard

ok… tried with a few other samples (of varying lengths, as short as 2.5 seconds). My theory is that the length parameter is hard-coded to assume a 16 second sample. Adjusting the gain on an input and using precise values via Teletype SC.CV supports this.

@odevices presumably this is a bug?

btw, i am using 0.3.25 so forgive me if this is solved in 0.4


This may help.



ok but in practice, i’m finding that the length parameter doesn’t behave as described there and instead is a proportion of 16 seconds. i’ve got the max length parameter up to 32 seconds… longer than any sample i’ve tried…


Wouldn’t you want to set max length to 11.294 in your example?


yep that is certainly a solution. another is adjusting the gain on the length subchain by (sample length) / 16.0, but ultimately it seems like a bug and the length parameter doesn’t function how the wiki suggests.


I see what you’re saying now. If your sample length is 11s and your max len is 16s, the wiki is suggesting that that a len of 0.5 would be 5.5s loop length. Does sound like a bug.


yea it seems that there is a hard coded value of 16 seconds being used, rather than the actual length of the loaded sample.

anyway, seems like it’ll be an easy fix and i’ll use the aforementioned hacks to play around a bit for now.


Good catch. Confirmed on 0.4.03 and reported in the current bug report thread for tracking.


Sorry guys. There is an error in the documentation. If you want the maximum loop length to correspond to the length of the sample then set the max.len control to inf, otherwise the value of max.len takes precedence.

There was a whole conversation in the v0.3.xx thread that led to this arrangement. I’ll take another look at the design when I get a chance.


Manual loops is great for micro sound experimental stuff. Micro sound loops gathered from whole song files - like scanning a radio station, except each manual scan is looping a tiny fragment of sound as it’s scanned. You just need to slow everything down to hear them. I trigger using velvet noise for random triggers and set the speed as close to zero either + or - for reverse so it’s slowed down. 1v/oct to taste, I usually leave at 0 or pitch up. The sample length as close to 0 as possible so the window is tiny. The sample length window I modulate with a slow lfo and gain set for the sample length moving the tiny window size open/close a very small amount. Fade zero. Max Length - 10 seconds. I move the start point by hand like a radio station until I find a loop I like. You get very Ciat Lonbarde Cocoquantus / Plumbutter type sounds and clicky type stuff this way. This is just one way I use it.


Thanks for the write up. Always new things to try with modular synths and the ER-301!