Creating audio loops is one of the oldest tricks in a music producer’s book. This technique started during the days of tape-to-tape audio recording and editing and is still used in millions of audio projects to this day.
However, while the uses for looping have remained largely the same, the techniques we use to create them have dramatically shifted over time. Now, with the invention of digital audio workstations (DAWs) like Pro Tools, creating audio loops is easier than ever before.
What is an Audio Loop?
An audio loop is simply a section of recorded or manufactured audio that repeats itself. Most loops are manufactured to seamlessly repeat themselves indefinitely for whatever length you desire.
How to Loop an Audio Clip in Pro Tools
Pro Tools makes it easy to create simple or complex audio loops with just a few steps. Whether you’re on a PC or a Mac, these steps will remain largely unchanged.
Here are the basic steps to looping an audio clip in Pro Tools:
Step 1: Select the audio clip on your timeline which you would like to loop
This can be any distinct clips, including audio files, MIDI files, or even a video file.
Step 2: Open the “Clip” menu from the top menu bar and select “Loop..”
Step 3: Once the “Clip Looping” options menu appears, select either the number of times you want the clip to loop or the length of the whole looped clip.
Keep in mind, if you select the number of loops option, it is the total number of loops that includes the source clip. So if you want to hear the original clip repeated seven times, you would set your number of loops to 8.
Step 4 (Optional): If your clip is purely audio, you can check the “Enable Crossfades” box and then open the “Settings” menu to select the duration of your crossfades at the beginning and end of the loop.
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You can also create loops by using a looping tool; here’s how:
Step 1: Click and hold (or hold Option + Click) the “Trim” tool in the Pro Tools toolbar
Step 2: Choose the Loop Trim tool from the tool selection menu that appears
Step 3: Use this tool on whatever clip you’d like to loop to create a sequence of loops
This is done by dragging the tool to the desired loop length.
And voila! You’ve now looped your first audio clip.
How to Loop an Existing Audio Loop in Pro Tools
Looping an existing audio loop in Pro Tools is basically the same process as looping a new clip.
Step 1: Select the audio loop which you would like to loop
Unless you select only a portion of the loop, the audio loop will contain the entire looped clip
Step 2: Open the “Clip” menu from the top menu bar and select “Loop..” or select the “Loop Trim” tool as outlined above
Step 3: Depending on which method you used to loop your clip, select how long you would like it to loop through either the looping menu or by dragging the looping tool.
You can also use the loop playback tool to preview your looped clip before trimming.
How to “Un-Loop” an Existing Audio Loop in Pro Tools
“Unlooping” an existing audio loop in Pro Tools is as easy as creating one. Unlooping simply means returning the loop back to only its original clip.
Step 1: Select the audio loop which you would like to unloop
Step 2: Open the “Clip” menu from the top menu bar and select “UnLoop..”
You can also do this by right-clicking (or Option + click) on a looped clip. A drop-down menu will appear. Select “Unloop” from this drop-down, and your clip will be restored to its original form.
There are several keyboard shortcuts that can also help you with looping. For easy reference, we’ve listed them below:
Open Loop settings: Cmnd+Option+L
Cycle through Trim tools: Cmnd + 2 (Press four times to get to the Loop tool)
Open Selector Tool: Cmnd + 3 (Use this tool to click on a clip and access the drop-down menu that will allow you to select “Loop” or “Unloop” on that clip)
Keep Experimenting with Loops to Create Millions of Effects
Loops are incredibly handy for audio production as they allow you to take a small sample, say, a drumbeat, and repeat it seamlessly throughout the mix. Loops make mixing a lot faster, whether you’re building a soundscape for a film and don’t want to drop in 1000 individual bird sounds or are producing an artist’s latest EDM album and want to lay down a slick percussion track from a sample. What you do with loops is limited only by your imagination.
And if you’re looking for a better way to bring your remote audio production team closer together and collaborate more efficiently from a distance, check out Evercast. Evercast allows you to stream your Pro Tools edit sessions in HD while video chatting and exchanging notes with your team, all under one platform. Because we believe collaboration is the magic behind the movies, and you shouldn’t be slowed down no matter where in the world your team is working.