Review: Retronyms Looperverse

16 tracks of loop recording and editing for iOS
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16 tracks of loop recording and editing for iOS
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Though there are quite a few DAW apps available for iOS, Retronyms Looperverse is poised to disrupt the looper-pedal market thanks to its extensive array of features and the ability to record and mix up to sixteen tracks. As soon as I fired it up, I was immediately impressed. Yes, Retronyms’ reputation is impressive (especially in the case of their iMPC Pro app), but seeing Looperverse’s gorgeous interface with every essential feature on the main page sealed the deal.

Getting started with Looperverse is easy. Important features like quantization, waveform editing, cropping, multiplying measures, and reversing are available right under the transport controls. The app offers pitch-shifting, time stretching, and real-time reverse, as well as the ability to set tempo and time signatures, and select Grid or Transient Snap, among other features.

All of the functions you need for live looping and editing are available from the main screen of Looperverse.

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I set my loop length to 2 measures, enabled a track, hit Record and played a rhythmic riff. When I had something I liked, I record-enabled the next track and added a vocal element, then repeated the process until I had five tracks that worked well in an ambient context. From there, I hit the Multiply button, duplicating the length of the audio. Then, I added a longer part on top of the composition. The entire process was seamless; I rarely had to hit the Stop button.

Once I had a few tracks recorded, I adjusted volume levels and panning, adding delay and reverb via track sends. Looperverse is a team player, too, giving you the option to export the entire session as a set of stems for use in a DAW.

Fig. 1. Retronyms offers a Bluetooth MIDI-enabled hardware pedal for hands-free control over Looperverse. The pedal is customizable for other applications and provides MIDI Learn support.

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Looperverse’s Bluetooth MIDI integration is a key element when using the app in a live context—particularly with a guitar or other instrument that requires two hands. For some, this will help justify the $199 price of the Looperverse Pedal, a heavy-duty Bluetooth controller (available in matte or sparkle black) that has dedicated buttons for Record, Play/Stop, Undo, Redo, Tap Tempo, and Clear (Figure 1).

Though I wasn’t able to test Retronym’s pedal for this review, I paired Looperverse to several other Bluetooth controllers, including a mixing surface and keyboard. On the up side, the keyboard allowed for real-time transposition of the loop as it played, without changing the tempo—a wonderful surprise that’s great for moving your audio, say, up a fifth while jamming, or for radically altering field recordings. On the downside, you cannot assign MIDI notes to transport functions or the various real-time editing options.

Turning to the integrated manual, I discovered that the Looperverse only responds to continuous controller (CC) data for these functions. Since many mixing controllers rely on note events for their switched/toggled controls, this could be a deal-breaker for some users, at least until Retronyms offers more flexibility in its MIDI configuration tools.

However, Looperverse is compatible with Ableton Link, which is massively important when you consider that most Link-enabled apps are drum machines and sequencers. With Looperverse, you can add looped acoustic recordings to your digital drum circles on-the-fly, which is ripe with potential.

At only ten bucks, Looperverse is an essential app for any iOS rig, offering applications that range from real-time jamming to sixteen-track mobile recording, and a lot in between. Looperverse is definitely staying on my iPad for the foreseeable future.

STRENGTHS
16-track loop-based recorder. Independent control of pitch and tempo. Time-stretching is very clean. Effects sends for each channel. Stem export. Supports Ableton Link. Transposes recordings via MIDI note messages.

LIMITATIONS
Transport and real-time MIDI control is CC only.

$9.99
retronyms.com

Francis Prève has been designing synthesizer presets professionally since 2000. Check out his soundware company at symplesound.com.