So, you’re the fastest one-shot sampler in the West, huh? We’ve got good news for you, then – you can now proceed to spend money on new gear. Photo (CC-BY) William Clifford.

What was the most-asked question around new music tech announcements earlier this month, coinciding with the industry’s NAMM trade show? Was it, “What’s the best accessory for my iPad?” Was it, “what was the game changer for music workstations?”

Nope – not among CDM readers, anyway. It was, “can I do one-shot samples with the new loopers?

A one-shot sample – for those of you thinking of True Grit – is just a sample that plays once and then stops, instead of immediately looping. It shouldn’t be rocket science, but makers of loopers are often convinced you want everything looping e. The nice thing about one-shot samples is that they provide more opportunities to be musically expressive and virtuosic than you would if you were knee-deep in never-ending loops.

VOX (Korg) and BOSS (Roland) each had dueling looper introductions – and each, in turn, earned some attention from readers. Those readers wanted to know if one shots were practical on the hardware. The answer: yes.

The BOSS LoopStations offer extensive sample time and memory storage; you can even use them as mobile recorders:
New Boss Loop Stations Add Features, Up to Three Hours of Recording; the Loopers to Beat

The VOX looper lacks that recording flexibility with small sample times, but many readers liked its live performance-oriented features and effects:
VOX Gets in Looping Game with Dynamic Looper – 90 Seconds, But with Live Features

So, about those 1-shots… First, Amanda Whiting confirms the new RC LoopStations each offer one-shot looping. Add that together with other usability enhancements, and I’d say the LoopStations really are looking a lot better.

Second, I asked Korg’s Leslie Buttonow if the VOX Dynamic Looper will do one shots:

Yes, it does because the Looper allows you versatile ways of ending your loops. Ex.—-“Stop at end of a loop; playback; fade out; delay out (like a fade while repeating last note).”

So, using the “stop at end of loop” mode would in essence give people a “one-shot” loop trigger of sorts.

Actually, I’d say that’s not just a one-shot “of sorts” – that there, pardner, is a gosh-honest, one hundred percent-authentic one-shot. Put that in your … sampler … and … smoke it. Erm. Yeah.

There you have it, folks. Each looper looks like it holds some serious potential. Oddly, talking to Roger Linn about his new drum machine with Dave Smith, the Tempest, our conversation turned to looping as an ideal way to translate the act of recording into performance. So, there’s great interest in this stuff. If you put together some fantastic looping performance, whether you’re sampling your singing or your ukelele or your crumhorn, do send it our way!

  • Brian

    I am super interested in loopers as a new instrument the same way samplers have become instruments in their own right. I know this is a little off topic and I dont want to take away from the discussion about the new possibilities available to musicians because of them but I have one question for you Peter:

    I understand this makes them not as static as a standard loop pedal, meaning you can be more musically expressive, but why give virtuosity such importance?

    I think we have people who will learn their gear and people who will not. What you do with it is your poragative but the end result, the art, should be the determining factor of virtuosity and not how well you use a loop pedal/drum machine/Ableton Live…

    I am not denying the fact that something as simple as doing one shot samples on a loop pedal can change the art and give it that extra push needed to truly impress but I have been thinking about this topic for a while now.

  • I got an Octartack and I honestly think this will be the last looper I ever buy. It works with EVERYTHING! Since3 I have owned it I have sold my RC-50, my RC-20, my SP-404 and my MC-808. It really is the perfect machine. I still use Ableton for recording… but I will NEVER use Ableton on a gig ever again. Elektron's Octatrack murders all other loopers (and I'm still just learning the machine and the software in it is not even complete yet :))

  • Peter Kirn

    I don't want to overstate the issue — it's something that should be obvious (but apparently to gear makers sometimes isn't!)

    You need the ability, when using samples, to trigger them singly as well as in loops. 

    I think virtuosity itself has become confused with showmanship, or even spectacle. It's simply an expression of great skill. One-shot samples don't make you an instant virtuoso – the skill you'll have to provide yourself. It just seems an obstacle to developing any degree of musicianship if it's not there, because you don't have full control over where samples, and by extension musical events, occur.

  • ifthenwhy

    I find any looper without a "one-shot" feature to be pretty much useless. It's a huge feature for me and is beautifully implemented on my original Boomerang pedal with the "Once" button.

    The percussive/textual variance provided by mashing on the Once button in time with a tune can yield wonderfully beautiful /unpredictable results.

    I'm happy to see some of these new offerings have considered the "once" feature valuable enough to include in their designs. 

  • I don't understand the practical implementation of triggering one-shots with a pedal. I thought the whole beauty of a looper was to free you to playing other things. If a pedal was capable of triggering multiple one-shots wouldn't start to look like you were playing a dance dance revolution? Wouldn't the better and more flexible solution be to just use a computer and DJ software? For instance Torq has an 18-cell sampler with the ability to record instantly any input. One could easily (in theory) use a MIDI pedal, assign a shift modifier, and have record+playback on the same note.

  • Peter Kirn

    @coolout: Well, it's really a no-brainer on the VOX, in particular — have a look at the pedal design. There are two pedals configured for triggering by default, two loops.

    It'd be trickier on the BOSS pedals, but I can still see cause for doing it, especially if you have more than one pedal.

    I mean, it's just triggering a loop that doesn't reset to the original playback position.

    Now, as for whether you'd use a computer, that's a whole other can of worms… the computer would indeed be capable of all kinds of things this gear isn't. That means that this hardware is making a particular case for usability, reliability, and/or mobility where the computer fails. But I can still see one-shots from a pedal being useful, even if — I agree — you wouldn't do it all the time.

    I'm also assuming people had some reason since so many asked!

  • J. Phoenix

    Totally off-topic, but the promo video for the Elektron Octatrack is absolutely hilarious.

    I'm not sure about the greater relevance of one-shot samples in looping pedals to the performer–but honestly, any ability lends itself to expression and performance. I'd rather have an option I'll never use than for someone else to feel boxed in or limited.

  • poopoo

    I'm not too excited about one-shots. It's midi sync I want and it looks like it's missing on the VOX, the digitech ones and all the boss ones except the RC-50 (where it doesn't work properly anyway). I like Mobius on PC and Sooperlooper on Linux.

  • Spazmatron

    My line 6 dl4 that I got like 8 years ago has a dedicated one shot button, plus half/double time, plus reverse, plus about 15 pretty good delay models. I'm not saying it's "better" than these newer models, however, you can pick one up on eBay pretty cheap these days. I can't count how many pro rigs I've seen the little green tank hiding in. 

  • Warwolt

    Excuse me if I seem a bit behind, but what exactly is the point of looping something if its only goin to loop once?

  • The new Looperlative LP-2 Mini Looper, released at this year's NAMM alongside the Boss and Vox loopers not only allows for 
    Retrigger (One Shot/Sample)  but also adds Retrigger (continuous) so that musicians can retrigger loops to keep a non-looping live band in sync with loops and a new feature Retrigger (Random) not found on any other looper on the market which allows the user to retrigger in such a way that the trigger will start from a random place in the loop each time one retriggers.   This is a unique way of creating new rhythmic and ostinato patterns that can be resampled by a second looper.    Along with midi sync I/O , onboard storage of 8 loops, 30 levels of undo, feedback control and all kinds of quantized replaced (Q replace) functions running on a 9 volt battery or AC  make this the most sophisticated inexpensive live looper on the market by far.   All for $300, street price.   I'm getting one when they are released to the public on March 1st.

  • @warwolt: triggering it on-demand and multiple times. 

  • Larry

    Soundbite PRO by RedSound