Weird problems when trying to sync to an external MIDI clock

edited November 2013 in General

I have personally written a message to respected developer Michael. Supposing that he may not respond to all messages from all around the world, I would like to put the issue on the table too. I am open to any working ideas...

I own an iPad 4th generation. iOs 7.0.3, a Roland Duo Capture Ex audio/midi interface, Icon G-Board USB foot controller, a powered USB Hub to be able to make Icon work and LOOPY HD! When I turn on all the staff, rig is ready. I connected Roland's MIDI IN to my desktop computer's sound card's MIDI OUT to get the clock from Ableton Live. When I play Ableton session, Loopy HD is on the go. Controlling loops with my Icon is no prob. However, I get some issues during real time play and record:

  1. Although I set count in to 1 bar and press record switch within the LAST bar (familiar process as in Ableton's quantized recording system), Loopy does not always start recording on upcoming 1st beat as it is expected. So it counts one more bar and starts recording. This is real problem when you are not just freely looping and have a traffic to follow on back ground :( I also tried count-in as clock time by setting it to 1 on loopy. No consistency. I am still working on it before putting it on stage.

  2. The 1 bar counting problem also occurs when I try to end the recording. (I expect it to be just as in Ableton Live's quantized loop recording. Namely, I press the toggle record switch DURING the LAST bar of my recording, but Loopy may not be able to end recording and play back, instead it continues to record and ads one more bar to my loop where everything goes out of order as you may guess.

  3. Last problem is: Although everything goes quantized, Loopy sometimes eats the beginning of the recorded loop just after it quits recording and passes onto play back. Is it a common failure, I do not know. but I encountered it many times.

What may be the reason of all these problems? Is it a MIDI clock issue? Is Loopy HD not ready yet to get massive stabile timing with external master clock?

P.S. I also checked it WITHOUT receiving MIDI clock from external hardware (Ableton). Neither of the problems above occur. :( That is bad news because my first aim by purchasing iPad installed with Loopy HD was to use it on stage synchronized (as a Slave) with other hardware such as Ableton running computer or another clock sending synth. I think the developer of this wonderful program should work around this issue more.

Best Regards



  • edited November 2013

    I may also add some more failures when connected to an EXT clock:
    Loopy sometimes eats the end of the loop although I play it as a whole.
    Loopy menus really slow down to respond.

    And again, these problems occur when and only Loopy HD works as slave under a master clock connected via MIDI cable.

  • I have been examining Loopy HD app for two days very deeply, trying to perfectly sync it to the Master clock of Ableton 9 from my desktop computer. I won't re-write the problems above, however it as clear as water that Loopy HD has got big problems on syncing to an External Master Clock. (Not to a master clock of another iPad App, but to another external device here)
    There are count-in problems. Loopy counts in amounts of its own wish :)
    There are sync problems between the Loopy tracks.
    Loopy menus slow down to respond inevitably.

    Unfortunately, on this case Loopy HD is not yet reliable enough to put it on a professional stage with computers and other clock generating devices in order to work in perfect sync!

    I would like to encourage Micheal to develop this amazing product!

    Thank you! Best Regards.

  • After weeks of trying every which way, I eventually (and regretfully) gave up using Loopy for this reason. Instead, I use RC-505 and VoiceLive Touch 2, both of which slave to MIDI Clock without problems and make an awesome combo. Costs a lot more though! :)

  • To repeat my PM to @ozanerk78:

    Hello! I'm sorry about the delay getting back to you - thanks for the heads-up about syncing with Ableton! I'm gonna check this out and get back to you.

  • Hi Michael - Thanks for looking into this, but I think you may be missing the point (at least, from my perspective). The sync breaks down when trying to keep multiple loops in sync over time when sync'd via external MIDI Clock. I havent tried WiFi sync, as I'm unwilling to use WiFi at a gig - too risky. I use wire.

    You need to test external sync when using (for example) a drum machine which is set as sync master and you need to do this in the context of playing multiple loops while the master device is also playing something. You should do this over an extended time period so you can determine real metrics with regard to sync stability. Leave the loops playing for at least 10 mins, see how that goes. Long term sync stability is essential for live performance.

    By way of contrast, swapping out Loopy in lieu of the VLT2 and/or RC-505 provides very stable playback sync. My band syncs Alesis Performance Pad Pro, RC-505 and three VLT2 units and it's rock solid. That's what is needed for anyone wanting to sync Loopy to external MIDI Clock master.

    Thanks again!


  • edited November 2013

    Hmm, maybe this is a physical wire issue, as I'm still unable to generate any issues on this end. I just tried this, on an iPad 3 WiFi running iOS 7.0.4:

    1. Set GarageBand playing on a 4 bar loop
    2. Sync Loopy to GB
    3. Record a 4 bar loop in Loopy, with the iPad mic held up to the speaker of the laptop, to record GB's output
    4. Wait 20 minutes
    5. Record another 4 bar loop as in (3)
    6. Play both loops simultaneously and listen for phasing/timeshifts

    After that, both loops were perfectly in sync with no phasing.

    I'd be interested in trying to isolate the problem. Do you have the means to perform the same test, with wire connection and with WiFi? I moved countries recently and unfortunately left my MIDI hardware connection equipment behind, but if I need to go out and buy some more to replicate and fix the problem, I will. Be nice to know that that's the problem first, though, or narrow it down a little, at least.

  • Hi Michael. First of all, I appreciate you so much that you respond in such a serious and detailed way. thank you for that.
    Actually, my expectations are JUST as you have demonstrated. Meaning, as in Ableton, when ever I press the record toggle WITHIN the count in period, recording should immediately begin on the coming 1st beat. This is just what you demonstrated in your video nice and clean.
    However, in my case I do not use wifi sync. I use external MIDI sync between two audio/midi interfaces. Let me repeat my setup here in detail:

    I have a Asus Laptop with ESI Quatafire 610 (or sometimes M-Audio FW 1814) audio/MIDI interface. I run Ableton 9 in it. For my looping session, I have my iPad 4, Roland Duo Capture Ex audio/MIDI interface and Icon G-Board USB foot controller. Roland and Icon are connected to iPad via power USB Hub into CCK. MIDI out of laptops interface (ESI or M-Audio) is connected to MIDI in of Roland. So I receive master MIDI clock from Ableton via MIDI cable (not wirelessly). This is important because I do not only intend to use Loopy with Ableton. But in another band of mine, I receive the master clock from a friend's Korg Electribe (again from MIDI out with cable). So I need manual connection, wireless is not enough for me.

    My problems are as follows:

    1. In my connection setup, Loopy might behave unexpectedly compared to your demonstration and my foresight. Where as it should immediately start recording according to count in period, sometimes it arbitrarily chooses to start next measure. That means it counts in more than 1 measure or exact 1 measure (but this is weird when I tap to record on the 2nd, 3rd or 4th beat as you did) So I fall out of the traffic of my backing track :( This issue may be encountered also at the end of recording. Namely, where I expect Loopy to finish recording and pass on to playback, it continues recording for one more measure. So the progression of the song gets ruined again.

    2. Sometimes (more when I try to use multiple tracks in Loopy), Loopy swallows the beginning or ending of the recording. You may see it visually from recorded wave file too. Sometimes, Loopy's one track loses sync completely and starts to play the last recording out of sync.

    3. Loopy menus, response of the menus such as advanced track menus or Loopy system menus REALLY slow down. They even cease to respond when connected to ext MIDI clock. I cannot take volume down or up.

    By the way, if I open both metronomes (of Ableton and Loopy), there is no inconsistency. They seem to be in perfect sync. But the cycling lights around individual Loopy tracks do not seem so consistent. They look as if they try hardly to catch each other to be in perfect sync. Sometimes they jump to a new position. Many weird actions as you can see.

    I hope that this explanation is as clear as possible for you focus on the problems.
    thank you again for your sincere response. Loopy is a fantastic tool. I hope to use it flawlessly on stage with your kind and worthy work of course.
    Best Regards.

  • Thanks for that @ozanerk78. I've bought a couple of USB MIDI interfaces online so I can do some testing with a physical wire; it is sounding like there's a problem with MIDI via the CCK. Be a little while before they arrive, but I'll take a look at this when they do.

  • I appreciate your approach! By the way, I would like to remind you of some forum talks around. I am not the first person who had problems with external sync via physical wire as I suppose. Some users reported that Loopy behaves inconsistent when it is run as a "slave" app under a master host clock. What I want to tell is, that you may check the consistency and perfection of Loopy's functionality about being "slave" app! In this era of technological music performance, we have to rely on perfect synchronization to host applications. I know that many Loopy users would not require it where they just use Loopy as a one man/woman band by recording an instrument via microphone (or onboard mic of iPad), having rhythmic effects with voice and singing over it. In this case, you do not require external sync obviously. However, in a band with backing track (fixed tempo and 1st beat), with electronic sample usage etc.. perfect external sync is the MOST important thing. Actually, a flaw means that this app cannot be used reliably.

    My aim to choose Loopy HD was to eliminate the need of an expensive, clock receiving Looper Pedal (such as Pigtronix or Boss RC 505 etc...) or a laptop with Ableton (where I can control loops to record and play with foot controller) since I do not need to perform on every stage with my laptop and Ableton. I do not want to carry all the stuff to stage everytime. iPad and Roland are small and fine.

    I am hoping to hear from you as soon as possible. Thank you.
    Best Regards

  • Michael, pardon me but I have just read your posts about upgrading to iOs 7. Unfortunately, I did it many days ago. I am now using iOs 7.0.4. Namely, the latest update in my iPad 4. I hope this is not the reason of my sufferings. When I purchased my iPad, it was installed with iOs 6. But as far as I can guess, there is no way to downgrade the iOs from now on, isn't it? I have never tried Loopy HD with iOs 6.

    I am open to your suggestions as ever.

  • I'm afraid there's no way back after updating the OS, @ozanerk78 - this drives me bananas, and I think does Apple's customers a real disservice. But that's the world we're stuck with.

    iOS 7, as with any major OS update (this isn't just Apple, this is the way development works), introduces glitches that need to be smoothed out over time. I've heard a few reports that MIDI is particularly troublesome on iOS 7, but I don't know any more than that; it may or may not be responsible for the behaviour you're seeing.

    Generally speaking, if you depend on a piece of hardware or software for performances, it's best to be very, very cautious about updating its firmware or software, particularly with a major update. Risky stuff.

  • Hi Michael, is there any change so far? I have still been trying to cope with sync problems. But the problem is "entering record in the right moment and leaving to play back" Once I manage to toggle record and play in the right moments, there is no syncing problem between tracks and clock in general. But record toggle does not respond as it should be within count in (and out of course - I mentioned everything in detail as you remember). I want to use Loopy on stage but in rehearsals we encountered problems when record toggling does not respond as it should be.
    I am waiting somethings from you. :))
    Best Regards.

  • Yuck! Yeah, I'm afraid not quite yet @ozanerk78 - I'm flat out this fortnight chasing an Audiobus 2 deadline, but I'll be looking into this as soon as that's sorted: It's a big priority for me.

  • Hi Michael,

    Just in case it helps: We had the same issues tonight with the following rigs:

    A) ipad 3, ios 6, midi clock received through usb hub connected over 30-pin CCK. Apogee one audio interface connected to the sane usb hub.

    B) iphone 5, ios 7.0.3, apogee duet audio midi interface connected over lightning to 30-pin adapter to apogee duet 30-pin factory supplied cable.

    one ipad air, ios 7.0.3 was sending clock signal over midimate2 midi-usb cable on both ports to rigs A and B.

    both slave rigs used count in and count out with live looping

    issues we had on both slave rigs (master had no issues) were similar to the ones described by ozanerk78:

    • random loop lengths

    • unresponsiveness

    • apogee duet wirh iphone rig had the same crackling/distortion issues

    We tried clock sync over wifi (network session) using an old airport express and a macbook air mid-2012 model. rigs start in sync but do not continue adjusting thereafter causing them to run out of sync eventually.

    We also tried bluetooth midi sync using apollo app. issue here: loops retrigger on every beat (presumably clock signal).

    As much as the three of us love loopy (awesome piece of work!) we had to give up on the idea of using these rigs for gigs and will go back to macbooks running ableton live.

    We keep trying with new loopy updates and hope this setup my work reliably enough in the future.

    Having said all this I really want to let you know again what a great tool loopy is and thank you for responding to all these issues the loopy community has with all their rigs.

    I hope I could help the furthet development.


  • Thanks heaps for the info @starshiphatch! That's very helpful. Funny that the WiFi sync drifted over time. Ah, MIDI syncing... Time to come up with something better.

  • Hey Michael,

    Great to know you can use that information.

    About the midi-sync I wasn't precise there. Actually I see in loopy where the BPM value is shown and midi clock sync over cable us active slight adjustments being made as the session runs. I took this as an indication for clock sync actually being received and processed. with wifi sync the session start happens in sync with the master but the BPM display does not show time-adjustments being made at all. We experienced these two scenarios: clock starting to run slightly out of sync after a while, but that's not for certain, the shift is very subtle. much weirder is a sort of "hickup" that shifts the timing of the devices against each other, this was sometimes just a shift in counts within the bar, so that the first beat of the bar would be in sync with the xth beat of the session running on the other device. However sometimes the hickup resulted in a random shift. After that, the devices seem to run pretty well synced again within the shift that occured. restarting the master (pause and start) solves the problem until it happens again.

    I thought that hickup might be caused by the airport express network not being stabke si we tried with an adhoc network session on the macbook air: same issue. The whole thing happened in a room without wifi or mobile network so any interference through another wifi network or whatever can be pretty much excluded.

    And hey, you are absolutely right, I don't expect you to solve decade-old problems just with a loopy update!

    Being a non-developer and all I wouldn't dare to comment on that, but as a user I can say that audio-midi ios interfaces (doing both) are still pretty rare and expensive. furthermore connecting multiple midi devices to an usb-midi connection is a real hassle. I for example gave to choose between midi syncing my rig or being able to connect a midi-footswitch (guess that's what many non-autistic looper artists need). If I want both it's a major usb-hub to usb-midi to midi-hub back to usb-midi cabling story. My point is: A reliable wifi or bluetooth midi or osc solution would probably be altogether the way less troublesome solution.

    I wonder what it is the guys who developed (finger) invented that supposedly makes midi over wifi stable...

    I'd be happy to put together some different rigs and report to you about how they work, just ket me know what you'd be interested in kearning about.

    Cheers and many thanks for all your work!

  • ...and sorry for the crappy spelling, I'm on a mobile (lame excuse I know)

  • Hi Michael,
    Tonight I am gonna dive into my first Pro gig with Loopy HD. I will perform with my band Nu Park ( We are three people on the basis with featuring guests. I wont repeat my setup here as I noted it down in detail in previous posts. However, just to let you know, tonight I have additional 4in4out ESI MIDI box connected to my USB Hub on iPad. I will receive 2 MIDI in cables: one from host computer, one from Korg Electribe. On some pieces we do not use PC, host becomes Electribe. MIDI box delivers MIDI messages to 2 OUTs. One to my audio/midi interface Roland Duo Capture Ex for Loopy, one to my Boss slicer SL-20. In rehearsals, I managed to cope. but as I insistingly indicate, there happen some anomalies with toggling record at the right time. (especially after 3rd loop track). Loopy anounces its freedom to choose :))) On those moments I directly cancel recording by pressing clear button on my foot controller and start over again to try to record my loop in time. As you can guess, it is not MY timing problem. :)

    Anyway, tonight is big test. Wish me luck. I am waiting for your new wonders.

  • edited December 2013

    In my case, loopy works fine when master, aside from random crackles which I've never been able to pin down with regard to causal factors. But Loopy breaks down when syncing to external MIDI Clock, especially when multiple loops are playing with multiple loop lengths.

    ozanerk78 said "However, in a band with backing track (fixed tempo and 1st beat), with electronic sample usage etc.. perfect external sync is the MOST important thing. Actually, a flaw means that this app cannot be used reliably."

    I agree with this, except I'd say "cannot be used" instead of "cannot be used reliably". Any tool which is unreliable cannot be used at gigs, particularly if the tool is a critical part of the music.

    I spent a LOT of time trying Loopy slaved to a master MIDI Clock device and concluded it really isnt ready for prime time at gigs when slaved. I experienced everything starshiphatch mentioned, including the crackles and the shifts where loops lose sync with each other (in bizarre, unpredictable ways).

    Using Roland RC505 as master, I can sync multiple VoiceLive Touch2 loop stations to the RC505. It just works.

    If I use an Alesis Performance Pad Pro as master, I can sync the RC505 and VLT2 devices without problems.


  • Tonight was a big crash. But to tell the truth, I am not about who is to blame. :) My ESI M4U Midi terminal sucked. I tried to use it as a MIDI THRU bridge as I mentioned before. But because of reasons I could not rationalize, it lost MIDI sync throughout the concert. My G-Board also lost the connection. Maybe all these weird occurrences were because of electricity problems of the venue. Who knows?! So I could not use Loopy. First big trial gave birth to a big error :(

  • Hey, ozanerk78, sorry to hear about your troublesome gig. Luckily we are still only rehearsing with that ios rig. So, after saying we would drop the idea of using 3 loopy rigs I read my post again and decided to make another attempt at the utopia of a reliable wifi midi clock sync between three ios devices. I briefly reported about the issues we had with both attempts (wifi and wired sync) and Michael's reply got me thinking: Why the hell is loopy dialing the BPM up and down like mad on almost every beat when clock synced over wire and is it really true that wifi clock does not sync if I don't see those constant BPM adjustments made.

    So I installed midibus ( That app claims to generate a super tight midi clock and let's you monitor what happens with outgoing and incoming clock signals. Turns out to sync all ios devices (I have currently 3 hooked up: An ipad air newest issue and iphone 5 and an ipad 1 (first generation) all running loopy) over a network created by an old airport express to the midibus-clock is an entirely different experience. So far they have been running in time for about 20 minutes I am testing live looping with different lengths messing with the BPM in the midibus app and so on.

    I will post here the outcomes of this trial once I've done some more testing, but it's way more promising than the setup we had before (sending the loopy clock out to the other devices directly).


  • For me, the issue of using WiFi or Bluetooth at gigs is still quite risky, especially when compared to wire. Performers and sound guys have no control over devices brought to gigs by patrons. Nor do we have any control over broadband noise across the wireless spectrum from devices permanently in the venue, such as powerful microwaves in the venue's kitchen (common at pubs/bars, for example). WiFi "boosters" installed by some venues can also be a nightmare. Venues typically want to ensure patron's smartphones can obtain good phone reception, but the boosters used to achieve this are akin to pouring oil all over a car engine in the hope some of the oil makes its way into the right places. Suddenly there's a flood of oil everywhere....

    A bad MIDI cable can be replaced by a spare. Fixing WiFi/Bluetooth problems on the fly at a gig is much more difficult.

    I've used multiple "latest technology" WiFi and Bluetooth options in live venues for delay stacks and other purposes such as sending a spare output from the band's mixer into the venue's distributed house system (which can work well in some circumstances). Reliable results only come from devices which are very good at dealing with interference. I'm not sure that's applicable to the devices running Loopy.

  • Today, I had a big rehearsal with my band Nu Park. Our electronics man uses a laptop with M-audio FW410 and a Korg Electribe. When we use sample track from laptop, it is the host for MIDI clock, so Electribe becomes a slave, having the clock from its MIDI In.

    My setup: (in more detail)
    iPad 4 has 4 port powered USB Hub connected with CKK. To that hub, I connect
    1. Roland Duo Capture Ex Audio/Midi interface (fot htis setup I do not use Roland's MIDI connections)
    2. ESI Miditerminal M4U (4 in, 4 out)
    3. Icon G-Board Usb foot controller.

    My Connections:
    I get 2 MIDI cables from my electronics guy:
    1. From MIDI Out of Electribe (in case we just use Electribe for electronics and have it as host)
    2. From MIDI Thru of Electribe (in case it receives host clock from laptop and should pass it to my machines)

    These 2 MIDI cables go into ESI M4U. I use 2 more MIDI cables to connect OUT 1 and OUT 2 of ESI to my TC G-system and Boss Slicer SL-20 for tempo sync.

    Loopy MIDI settings:
    Control in: Icon G-Board
    Clock in: ESI MIDI IN 1 for getting clock from Electribe (I change this alternatingly between songs to IN 2 if I want to receive laptop's clock as host)
    Clock out: ESI MIDI OUT 1&2 (for G-System and Slicer pedal.)

    With this incredible setup, I plan always to be in sync with Electribe or Laptop clock alternatingly with all my machines.

    It works generally and theoretically. However, as many users in forums mentioned before, BPM on Loopy always swings. For ex, when the host bpm is 120, it wanders around 119,8-120,1. Not stabilized every moment. I also checked it with light and hi-hat metronome. There happen to be also some deviances, within a 5 minute-song.

    But most frustrating feature is, that Loopy never responses count in recording (i.e. 1 bar) securely and exactly. I had to clear many takes just after I pressed toggle record before it was on the air, since the recording did not begin as it should be. Sometimes even worse, it starts correctly, but after I toggle to play, it plays one 8th note after bpm. Lost synchronization.

    Nightmare. I cannot record a thing with blind eyes trusting it sure that my recording will start the next 1st beat as I expect. I always feel, I have to look on the screen and check it if it started right and ended right too. I loose my concentration of playing.

    Since the ESI miditerminal gets the master clock and delivers it to Loopy, Slicer and GS, I sometime recognize that tempo LEDs on my pedals and Loopy also do not synchronize.

    To tell the truth, I started to regret of buying all this setup (iPad, CKK, USB Hub, Roland Duo Capture, Icon G-Board and Loopy HD) in order to have a complete functional loop setup on stage. I also ask whether my hardwares are the reason for the problems. Maybe, I do not want to blame the app so rapidly. But the sync problems I have mentioned here occurred also when I did not use ESI M4U and just used Roland Duo Capture's MIDI in and out. So different hardware, same problems. That leads me to think about software's stability.

    Michael, I hope you hear this. I hope you will help us through.

    Thank you again and best regards.

  • Today, the concert of previously mentioned big rehearsal is now behind. I added one more trouble to my recent ones on stage. Although all my usb connected peripherals (Roland Duo Capture, ESI Miditerminal and Icon G-Board) seem to work from (receive power), I occasionally lost connection with them in iPad. iPad also restarted itself by crashing Loopy. My fake (side factory) CKK (lightning-usb) may be responsible for that, what do you think? When ever I connect my side-production CKK with iPad, there is a message on screen at first. This device has not been approved, you may have problems etc. Can this be a reason for anomalies such as losing USB connection between peripherals? Can this also be the original reason for losing MIDI sync, since MIDI signals are received or sent by USB peripherals in my setup. If that connections is not healthy enough as it is supposed to be, any anomalies may be expected, on my opinion. What do you think?

  • With "fake", I meant imitation or counterfeit product. So it is not original Apple connector.

  • Hey guys - just letting you know I've seen this. I'm chasing the clock on some Audiobus stuff, but once that's sorted I'll be getting stuck into addressing this.

  • Midi sync is typically a pretty tough thing to get perfect. I've only seen a few hardware loopers that get it right. My best recommendation to ozanerk78 would be to maybe just match the bpm in loopy to that on the hosts midi clock. Maybe just write down each songs bpm on a setlist so everyone's gear is in sync.

  • when you play in a band consisting just live instruments, tempo tuning to a should-be fixed tempo with tap options is possible. even if you play in a band with backing track and fixed bpm, it is not too hard to sync with delays, tremolo and modulation effects to master tempo by using tap or writing down the exact tempo to the processors. If you are good add counting and play strictly in time, tremolo plays like Tom Morello's could fit just in place.

    However, it is not the same with Loopy when you lay in a band with fixed backing track, and bpm. Loop means, you play once, it goes to the end as the battery allows it :) So unlike the real timing on delay, tremolo etc effects, you only have ONE chance to be just in time with aster tempo, and that is when you press record toggle. The tiniest deviation from master click means that the whole loop will play slightly from behind or ahead. That is not a perfect scenario on stage.

    So, I appreciate your idea nicks21kg, but it is not secure enough for professional stage. It always has a humanistic flaw in it. Some flaws are unbearable there.

  • @ozanerk 78

    So on your 11th post after complaining about timing problems , saying LoopyHD is not "professional " enough for live gigs and expecting Michael to fix this urgently ; only now you mention you're using a non-Apple CCK !
    For all the other "professional" equipment you have listed (and could presumably afford) , you trusted all that data to be passed through a cheap unsupported piece of tat ?!
    Any system is only as good as its weakest part . This last month spent posting about your problems would have been better spent buying a legitimate Apple CCK and testing that .
    Before you accuse Michael of not supplying reliable professional software , apply your critical faculties to your own system!
    There may still be midi/timing issues , but using unsupported equipment will not help testing results .

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