Sending a click track or metronome to other devices

edited May 2013 in Support and Feedback

This has come up during another post but it is such a pivotal thing in performance that I think it is worth its own post. Has anybody found a way to send a click track wirelessly?

In about 99% of performances where there are machines and more than one musician there is a click track. What drummer isn't playing with headphones these days? If the cans aren't on bet your boots there's a monitor dedicated to the click. We've been playing with loopy in our band for a few months now and it's the only phone/tablet app that we would use seriously, because you can do all your basic stuff without moving through menus. We don’t use lots of sounds, just a few simple loops and single shots to augment the sound. But inevitably we run into this issue - once the clock has started you all have to stay with it otherwise you sound really bad. Really bad. We’ve played with a couple of songs here and there, but we’ve decided not to use Loopy until I can work out how to send a click track to the others. We won’t take the risk that we’ll be embarrassed by falling off the clock.

I’ve tried some midi things – putting Loopy on other devices, connect to my phone hotspot so that everyone else can connect, use my phone as a clock input and turn on a click or whatever sound they want. But it’s horribly unreliable. Same if we use other apps to slave to Loopy. The click generally runs a bit behind which would be ok if the latency was always the same, but it’s not and is often way out. So I tried connecting a Bluetooth receiver, put a click on one Loopy pad and pan left, pan everything else right. But it’s clumsy, you have to split the sound at the other end, can only connect one device and then all your other samples are in mono. And you lose one sound pad.

I could probably get something like the iRig midi interface and run cables to trigger other devices with a click. But I have the iphone/ipod taped to the side of my bass with bluetoothed audio to an amp and it’s such a sweet simple set up which is unobtrusive, doesn’t tie me down with foot pedals and which works. I don’t want everyone cabled up, there are already lots of ways we can do that and I’m loving Loopy and hoping it will set us free!

Anybody got ideas?

Potsy

Comments

  • I'm surprised the bluetooth latency is working for you. Are you live looping or using loopy to trigger pre recorded loops?

    I can't think of a way to wirelessly solve your problem. With a multichannel output card and some wires, you may be able to find a way to have loopy sync with another app on the same device and have that other app output click to a separate output but I'm not sure of any app that will allow you to select which output to use + midi sync.

  • Thanks for your thoughts.

    Bluetooth latency is ok for our use - mostly we trigger pre recorded loops and the couple of live loops are layered onto stuff that is already well under way. Audio quality is terrible with the receivers i have (a blueant and some $10 thing) but if I can work out a click track I'll buy an audioengine w2. I'm using the w3 round the house and it's a great sounding unit.

    I'm pretty sure it is simple with wires as you say - eg have loopy on my phone master out the clock to loopy on an ipod then just enable the metronome on the iPod/loopy. That works wirelessly except for the latency. But once you introduce wires, I think your probably better off with a more traditional foot controlled device if triggering samples is what you mostly do.

    Except that loopy is pretty nice to use so I would really like it to work!

    And I find the wider possibilities irresistible. Think everyone in the band with their idevice connected to one hotspot to get the clock signal, then we could all add loops and sounds. That sounds like fun to me!

    And the freedom of a wireless setup is tantalisingly close...

  • edited May 2013

    Have you tried a dedicated WiFi router, @potsy, if that's an option? Using the iPhone hotspot isn't going to give great results because it's just not really built for ordinary routing, particularly not low-latency routing, but an Apple Express or one of those battery-powered hotspot things might do the trick.

    I've always had good experiences with Loopy's MIDI sync over WiFi - but then again, I am the developer, and therefore Murphy's Law Corollary 3 applies: "Anything that can go wrong, will never go wrong for the developer (unless it's a demonstration in public)."

  • edited May 2013

    Hi Micheal,

    Thanks heaps for your reply. I should have thought of that! I gave it a crack tonight on my home network (new Netgear R6300) and also with my old 802.11g router. It's better than the hotspot but still, guaranteed to drop the clock within a couple of minutes. If I let it sit there it'll stay in time for ages, but once you start switching pads on and off and manipulating things, it drops the clock.

    Tried with my ipad1, but no go. Here's a vid for you to see - basically both devices looping a kick drum so you can hear when it goes out of time... at about 28 seconds.
    http://youtu.be/KCe3JPOZjFw

    Also used an ipod3. It was better, but ultimately same deal. Strangely, when it dropped the clock the ipod started doubling the time! Check it out, at about 26 seconds it starts playing the kick twice in each loop. Whack! The machines just don't want to talk nicely for too long.
    http://youtu.be/ZPvxVZQI8xw

    But there's hope! Both of those were on the 802.11g router. Hooked into the new router the ipad is still hopeless but the ipod I've been fiddling with for about half an hour and it hasn't dropped the clock yet. There's still noticable latency, but we'd get away with it live. I'm definitely going to keep plugging away because I really like this app. I'll only leave these clips up for a couple of days and when I get it happening over the next few months I'll post a clip of things going really right in a live set...

  • Wow, that's really strange! Does it still happen if you quit all apps on your iDevices, and reboot both?

    It sounds like it might be a performance problem - it could be that the iPad 1 just doesn't have the juice to keep track of the MIDI ticks and do everything else Loopy asks of it. It wouldn't surprise me - the iPad 1 is quite old now.

    For reference, I've got an iPhone 5/iPad 3 here synced together on an 802.11g network, and after 5 minutes or so of sitting here hammering away muting/unmuting/recording a bunch of tracks, it's still precisely synced.

  • Yep, I did try quitting all apps and rebooting. Also tried again tonight with a pair of iphone 4s but still no joy. Have tried swapping which device has the clock in and which has clock out – was worse when my ipod3 or ipad1 was in charge, which also probably points to a hardware thing. I’ll probably give it a break for a while and go back to the old gear, but I’m not going to let go, Loopy is a very playable instrument. These things will come with time and technology!

  • Hmm, well, I'm sorry to hear that! Definitely sounds like the processor not quite keeping up with the sync stuff... Best of luck!

  • not the wishthread ;-) but it would be lovely to bind the MetronomVolume!

  • Hmm, that one sounds like it might be a little niche, @obiwahnkentobi - start a new thread about it and see if others chime in, maybe? I'd be happy to be proven wrong =)

  • Jumping on this a wee bit late (what's a year and a half among friends?). @potsy, @michael have there been any breakthroughs on this issue? Someone on the AB forum recommended using DM-1 WIST to sync clock on multiple devices. I've not tried it and I have not heard the greatest feedback about WIST for this purpose, but I need to figure it out soon, potentially.

  • Hi there MoonWolf, I haven't done anything further because I haven't updated my hardware so there's not much point. At the moment I'm running Ableton live on a laptop and using my iphone as a controller. My band mates slave their devices to Ableton to get a click and that's working for us.

  • What do you mean by slave a device through ableton and is there a limit to how many devices you can connect to the track?

  • Hi... so I have MoDrum on an old ipod/iphone and laptop with Live on it. Both on the same wifi network. In Live midi preferences, send a midi out and in MoDrum connect to the Live midi host. MoDrum starts/stops when I hit play on Live and syncs to the same tempo. So guitarist can have ipod in pocket and whatever MoDrum pattern for a click track. Earpiece or just use the ipod speaker for a click track.

    Obviously you don't have to use MoDrum, any app will do as long as it can sync to a midi session. Maybe BeatMaker2.

    I'm using a PC so MIDI happens thru rptMIDI. Using two idevices but i don't see why there would be a limit to how many can connect to the session.

    But in the last year we haven't been using it and have been just acoustic, so haven't set it up for a while...

  • There's a nifty free app called the metronome that I like for a click track. We use a little wifi router and link enabled apps.

  • Hi Lukesleepwalker, which metronome app is that? I'd like to check it out.

  • Here you go:

    The Metronome by Soundbrenner by Soundbrenner
    https://appsto.re/us/XxCH-.i

  • Thanks!

  • @lukesleepwalker that app is a nice find! Thanks. I just downloaded it last night and tried it out. It seems to play fine in background, syncs perfect to Ableton Link, and has some great customizable features.

  • @Hmtx said:
    @lukesleepwalker that app is a nice find! Thanks. I just downloaded it last night and tried it out. It seems to play fine in background, syncs perfect to Ableton Link, and has some great customizable features.

    Aye, it's a good one!

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