Price from £5.99/$7.99 per month (or £59.99/$79.99 per year)
Loopcloud 6, the latest version of Loopmasters’ subscription sample service, gains new AI search tools that let you search for harmonic/rhythmic matches and similar sounds. These new tools, along with the accompanying plug-ins and edit-before-you-buy capabilities, might just make it the best subscription sample service out there.
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Loopmasters Loopcloud subscription service has three tiers, each providing an increasing number of points to spend on sounds (renewed monthly) and larger amounts of cloud-based storage for your own samples. The top tier also increases the concurrent machine limit from two to four. Importantly, any samples you buy as a subscriber remain yours to keep, even if you cancel your subscription.
Loopcloud’s success has long hinged on its excellent accompanying software and plug-ins. You can take the plunge with a 30-day trial, and the installation includes both standalone and plug-in versions of the Loopcloud software, plus Loopcloud Play and Loopcloud Drum instrument plug-ins.
The main Loopcloud application is self-contained and is where most of the action happens. It integrates with your DAW via its partner plug-in, which handles audio routing and tempo/time signature sync. This means you find and audition loops and samples within the app, then drag and drop them into your DAW when ready. Traditionally, and with many competing systems, there are extra steps, such as downloading and navigating to a specific folder location. Loopcloud makes the process of bringing loops into your session virtually seamless.
Drum puts Loopcloud functionality into a drum machine and sequencer plug-in designed for one-shots. There are some decent intro kits to get you started, and the built-in store lets you audition and buy more.
Meanwhile, Play is for playable virtual instruments. The wide-ranging examples included for free demonstrate how you might integrate it into your productions, particularly if you’re looking beyond self-contained loops. The Get More button takes you to the Loopcloud software browser, which offers additional packs to buy. Both plug-ins have editing and customisation options that outperform many third-party products, particularly Play, where an Easy View allows for broad changes, while the Edit View reveals comprehensive synth and effect sections.
The main Loopcloud application also has a superb, broad set of capabilities. Keyword and text searching are very straightforward, allowing you to find samples based on genre, instrument, label, file name, BPM and key. Plus, LC6 lets you audition up to eight loops simultaneously, all with automatic tempo matching. You can also alter pitch, edit the sample, and even apply a range of effects processing before exporting the sample (or even paying for it). The process is transparent and intuitive and dramatically ups the ante when personalising samples.
However, the new tentpole feature in Loopcloud 6 is AI-based searching, which extends the basic name or tag-based approach and allows you to look for harmonic matches, rhythmic matches’ or similar sounds (courtesy of music AI specialists Jamahook). This is a very effective way of hunting down loops that might work together but originate from different genres. You can even include your own sample collection in the searches. Splice offers a similar, simpler feature via its own Similar Sounds function.
Though we still have a healthy amount of scepticism about claims of AI in production tools, Loopcloud’s AI search surfaces melodic sequences in different keys, with entirely different instrumentation that somehow fit together. One such success we had was a Daft Punk-style synth lead and Afrofunk guitar part that worked together beautifully. Also, rhythmic matching works between instrumental and percussive loops, though sometimes the options are a little too broad to be the perfect fit every time.
The Similar Sounds feature also worked well, though it is highly dependent on the source – in some cases, the results were very similar to a standard keyword search. AI searches also take longer than conventional ones (sometimes five seconds or more) and do not appear to work on sliced REX-format loops. Ultimately, these are genuinely worthwhile and useful additions to Loopcloud, even if the AI tag might initially sound like a marketing buzzword.
Loopcloud 6 or Splice?
Splice is easily Loopcloud’s most prominent competitor, though there are differences in the depth and breadth of content on each platform. Splice leans a little more towards those looking for the sounds of a specific name-producer, though it does also offer a wide range of genre-based packs. Splice also includes a rent-to-own option for a wide range of third-party plug-ins. However, it doesn’t currently provide as much auditioning and editing flexibility. And it’s because of this flexibility that, for our money, Loopcloud is currently the more complete and creative option for producers.
- Standalone Mac/PC app
- VST, AU and AAX plug-in
- Separate plug-ins for building drum kits and playable sample instruments
- AI-based search
- Cloud sample storage
- Edit and process samples before purchase and use
- Subscription includes Loopcloud Drum and Play plug-ins