How to Use Live Looper in Ableton Live

You can use the Looper to make live loops in Ableton Live by adding this audio effect onto a MIDI or audio track you want to loop. Then, you can record a virtual or live instrument to the track and use the looper to overdub various elements.

I’m Donovan, a professional musician and producer with over 15 years of working in recording studios. I’ve used Ableton Live extensively this year and know through direct experience how to use the Looper effect in live situations. 

This post will show you how to use the Looper feature in Ableton Live to make live loops. I’ll walk you through the steps of getting the Looper onto a track in your Live Set and tell you how to operate it to make a loop. 

Let’s get to it. 

How to Use Looper in Ableton Live: Quick Guide

The Looper is another excellent feature of Ableton Live that is easy to use and can help you make beats and loops in your Sets or for live performances. I’ve used the Looper on numerous projects, and it always helps my creativity shine. 

I’ve used other loopers in different DAWs, as well as the stand-alone pedal type of controllers for this purpose. But I think the Looper that comes with Ableton is one of the best and easiest to use, no matter what your experience level with production is. 

Follow these steps to use the Looper in Ableton Live: 

1. Open a new or existing Live Set. 

2. Choose an Audio or MIDI track you want to have the looper on. I’ll use a MIDI track in this example, but the same steps apply to any audio you are working with. 

3. Open your Collections/Library and select Audio Effects

4. Select Delay & Loop

5. Select Looper

6. Now, you’ll see a number of different Looper options. These are just different lengths of loops. Pick the option that you want to work with. Starting with a 2-bar or 4-bar loop is a good option for beginners.

7. Drag the Looper onto the MIDI or Audio track you want it on. You can also adjust the loop length after you have it on your track by choosing your preferred option from the Record drop-down. 

8. Now set up your track to accept an MIDI or Audio signal. If you are recording Audio, you’ll need to ensure your interface and other equipment are set up and routed to the channel input you want to record to. 

For MIDI tracks, you can choose a software instrument directly from Ableton. I went with the 808 Core Kit for this example. You’ll see the Looper appear in the Audio Effects panel at the bottom of your Set. 

9. Ensure you see the Blue Cross icon after the loop length drop-down. This will allow you to make overdubs to your loop, which is essential to live looping. 

10. Choose the global control settings you want for the loop. There are a few options under the Start control and Tempo control sections. 

  • If you select None, there won’t be any effect on global playback. 
  • If you select Start Song, the Looper will start playback once the loop is recorded.
  • If you select Start & Stop Song, the Looper will sync up to the global transport play and stop for your entire arrangement. 

You also have several options for the Tempo Control. 

  • Choose None if you don’t want any tempo settings.
  • Choose Follow song tempo if you want the loop to match the tempo the rest of the arrangement is set to.
  • Choose Set and Follow song tempo to set the tempo of your arrangement to the tempo of the loop you just made. 

You can also adjust the Quantization, Speed, and Feedback if you want to get really precise with your loops. If you are making a beat for the first time, don’t worry about these settings. 

11. Press the Blue Cross icon to start building your beat. The Looper will run through the length you’ve selected, and you can lay down whatever elements you want in there. It will cycle through the loop, and you can overdub as well. 

12. When you are satisfied with your loop, you can click on the Drag me! option in the looper to place the audio or MIDI track on a Live clip.

Final Thoughts

Using the Looper to make Live Loops is a great way to take your DJ skills for live performance to the next level. Ableton’s Looper is a very effective tool for this purpose, but you can also use it to make live loops while you record other projects in the DAW.

The Looper is also a solid tool for beginners to use to start experimenting with beat-making. I’ve used it for this purpose to lay the foundation for rhythm tracks multiple times.

Have you ever made live loops on stage? What equipment did you use? Let me know in the comments below.

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