Here are some of the more "frequently asked questions" about
acid loops, and my attempts to answer them.
If you click on the questions just below you'll
be taken to where it's answered further down the
But if everyone uses the same
music loops won't the songs all start sounding the
What is a loop
and why is it useful in making music?
The word "loop" has many meanings, but in this context
it means a short segment of music, usually one or two
bars long, that's made so that when it's repeated again
and again it creates a "rhythmic groove".
It's not necessary to play the music loops repeatedly
but is a common quality they have, that they can be played
that way. Many sound loops can be used this way to create
a hypnotic sort of effect. Music loops are frequently
more useful when they're not being played back to back.
Think of a music loop as a short "riff" played by a musician
on his or her instrument. In most instances that phrase
will not be repeated again and again in a song. So for
most types of music stringing different phrases together
is more appropriate. The fact that they are usually only
a bar or two long makes them ideal for arranging and
rearranging into songs.
Using music loops is also a way of collaborating with
a huge variety of musicians while keeping the cost and
time consumption to a very small fraction of what it
might otherwise be. There's no travel time or travel
expense involved, and there are no disagreements about
what to play. Music loops can be a huge time and money
saver when those factors are important. You can also
pick which drummer you'd like for any particular song,
which bass player, which keyboard player and on and on.
You can have several of each if you'd like, and you can
remove them from the song without offending anyone.
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Isn't it more
fun and isn't there more flexibility playing with a
The human interaction can certainly be fun and offer
a different kind of flexibility than playing along with
compositions you make with music loops. There's no need
to stick to either one exclusively, each approach has
its own advantages and disadvantages. A combination of
approaches that depend on the particular project or situation
is best if possible.
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What about midi?
I like to use my keyboard a lot, can I use music loops
along with midi?
Most of the major programs incorporate midi, music loops,
and live audio recording as well. They will also synchronize
with other programs so that you can use one program for
midi and another for music loops and have everything
playing back in sync.
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transposing? Can acid loops be transposed without sounding
Acid loops are wav files that come from recording live
audio. There are a host of programs emerging that are
now able to transpose the audio without any type of weirdness.
The number of programs that can do this effectively is
growing rapidly and the effectiveness and ease of the
transposing process is growing rapidly as well. Whole
phrases, chords or only specified notes can be transposed.
Not only that, but many other characteristics of the
sound may be modified to produce very realistic variations
of the loop. The notes within a phrase may also be rearranged
or combined with other music loops to create even more
When synthesizers and samplers first came out there
usefulness was minimal. As time went on and the technology
advanced they became more and more practical. I think
that same is true about acid loops, only now that the
technology in general is much more advanced, the practicality
of using music loops will be able to grow more quickly.
Acid loops are still in their infancy and they're already
being used extensively in all sorts of commercial and
non commercial projects.
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royalties? What does royalty free mean?
Most acid loops including ours are royalty free. That
means that you can use them in your songs whether they
are for fun or profit without any further financial compensation
to anyone. There is no need to pay any royalties
to anyone if the song earns money from sales. This
is referred to as being royalty free.
This is another one of the practical benefits of composing
songs with music loops. If you sell your productions,
you would usually either split the income from the song
with each of the other musicians that played in the song,
or paid someone usually a whole lot more than the cost
of a loop disc to play a part in the composition. Not
that those options are necessarily bad, but if you have
music loops that will work well for your song you'll
benefit more financially by using the loops.
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What is a license
and what is your license agreement?
Most legitimate acid loop libraries come with a very
similar license agreement. The basic idea is that you
can use the sound loops within any musical composition
without having to pay anything other than the original
license fee. The sound loops are licensed to
you as opposed to being sold to you.
Only the producer owns the right to sell them
as loops. Otherwise if the loops were allowed to be resold
by anyone who licensed them they could just copy (pirate)
the discs and sell them to everyone else, without having
to create any of the material themselves. It removes
the incentive for anyone to spend the time to create
the acid loops in the first place. It takes quite a bit
more than usually meets the eye to produce a disc of
useful acid loops. Please be fair, don't pirate.
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What does "acidized" mean,
and can I use these acid loops in other programs besides
Acid loops are an advanced form of sound loops or music
loops. Acid loops are music loops that contain small
bits of extra information within the file that allow
the programs to utilize the "acidized" loop more fully.
The information that tells the program the key that the
phrase is being played in, and the number of beats to
the phrase are the most important.
If a song is in the key of "A" but the acid loop was
originally played in a different key, the program will
be able to transpose the key of the acidized loop to
the key of the song automatically, as long as the program
has the information stating the key that the phrase was
played in. Which program you use to do the transposing
and the material being transposed will determine the
range of notes you can transpose without sounding weird.
A few semitones in either direction almost always works
OK. Some material can be transposed an octave or so without
any weirdness at all.
Including the information that tells the program the
number of beats in the phrase is what tells the program
how to synchronize the timing of the acid loop with the
timing of the song. If the song is being played at 120.7
beats per minute, and the loop was originally played
ay 103.1 beats per minute, the acid loop will immediately
synchronize with the timing of the song. The acid loops
may have been one bar, two bars, six beats, nine beats,
or any number of beats long, but as long as the information
specifying the number of beats is included in the file,
the acid loops will automatically sync with the song.
The song can also change tempo in parts, and the synchronization
will remain intact. Usually the first time a person sees
this happen (particularly seasoned musicians), there's
usually a dropping of the jaw and a widening of the distance
between the eyelids. Its ease and usefulness is astounding.
"Acidizing" the file has become the industry's standard
method of including this very basic practical information
about the acid loop in the file. Most of the mainstream
programs that use loops are able to utilize this information
to expand the usefulness of the loops, and the practicality
their program. More and more programs are conforming
to this standard as time goes on. Acid was the first
program to utilize this information, so this is how the
term "acid loop" came about.
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But if everyone
uses the same music loops won't the songs all start
sounding the same?
There are so many music loops available that for the
most part this is unlikely, and as the volume of choices
continues to expand, the practicality of using music
loops expands with it. There's a snowball effect
happening. When you factor in the increasing number of
loop oriented programs and rapidly expanding features
to manipulate the sound of the loops, the usefulness
of music loops becomes even more evident.
Using the loops in different contexts also makes them
less likely to be recognizable. The music loops that
are most likely to be noticed as being the same phrase
that was used in another song are the leads, or other
parts of the song that are attention-getters. These can
still be used effectively, even in a commercial song,
by modifying the riff in some creative way. Another version
or creative use of a catchy, well-known phrase could
be turned into a very useful thing.
The bottom line remains the same: Do people enjoy listening
to it? If the listeners impression is that it just sounds
like more of the same, it'll detract from the enjoyment
level. If the impression is that it's similar to something
they've heard before but in some way more interesting,
it'll add to the enjoyment of it.
Another thing to consider in this context is the rising
acceptance and development of "remixing" as an art form
in itself. As this phenomenon of rearranging cool sounds
in a creative way advances, more and more interesting
results are emerging from it. Good "remixers" are becoming
sought after by the major artists and labels because
of the fact that people like hearing what they have done.
As "remixing" grows, the acceptance of hearing the same
sound used creatively in a different way grows with it
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What programs are acid
loops compatible with, and what's the difference between
the 16 bit files and the 24 bit files?
Acid loops are standard wav files, with a little extra
information included in them which makes them acid loops.
This "acidizing" makes them more useful when you use
them in loop oriented programs. As wave files, they are "compatible" with
almost every audio program and sampler made. Check with
your program's documentation to see if it reads wav files
if you're unsure.
Playin' Music's acid loops are available in either 16
bit or 24 bit resolutions and are all 44,100 khz. The
16 bit files are the most commonly used files. The 24
bit files are a higher resolution and therefore a slightly
better sounding file. It's been debated whether
the human ear can hear the difference. High quality digital
equipment and very trained ears can. Not every
program that can read wav files can read 24 bit wav files,
and the 24 bit files take up 50% more memory and 50%
more space on your disc or drive. The 24 bit files are
the standard bit rate for movie or TV projects and are
better if you are going to have your songs mastered at
a high quality mastering facility. The 16 bit files are
the standard for commercially made CD's and pretty much
everything else. If you want the extra clarity then choose
the 24 bit files. If you're not sure which to pick, the
16 bit files are probably better for you.
The material used for these acid loops was recorded
at 24 bit (except for some of the older recordings) and
then edited and processed at 24 bit or higher resolutions.
The software can utilize the higher resolution to process
the sound more precisely while keeping the sound quality
as pristine as possible. The completed acid loops are
then made available to you in this 24 bit resolution,
and they are also then converted to 16 bit resolution,
and are available in this resolution as well.
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Why should I buy your
acid loops instead of others? Is there anything that
makes your acid loops stand out from the rest?
There are several things that I do to these acid loops
that make them more useful than most of the others currently
All the acid loops on these discs are very tightly
played. That's something that usually goes unnoticed
until you try using them in songs, but then it makes
a very big difference.
I've personally sorted through more commercially produced
acid loops than probably more than 99% of all the people
who use sound loops in their music. I've done that in
order to create a library of acid loops to use in my
own song productions. I keep the ones I consider useful
and discard the ones that I think are not up to snuff
for whatever reason. That way I don't have to audition
the ones I don't like again when I'm looking for something
to use in a project. I've kept about 1/4 to 1/3 of the
ones I've sorted through and discarded the rest.
The main reason I discard most of
the music loops I audition is that they're not tight
enough to the beat. They might sound fine when played
by themselves, or even in the context of the song they
were originally played in, but when played along with
another appropriate beat or within another song they
don't play tightly enough with it.
The songs inevitably sound much better and more professional
when the musicians are all playing very much in sync
with each other. The advantage of using only the tightly
played acid loops is that the songs that are made from
them will also automatically come out tighter and more
professional sounding. It usually takes a lot of practice
for bands get their sound tight. A tight sound is usually
associated with professionalism, and a band that doesn't
sound very tight usually needs more practice. In short
tighter songs sound more professional.
Try it for yourself; Pick out some of the music loop
libraries that you already own and consider pretty descent.
Play a tight drum loop of the genre of the loops that
you want to check for tightness in your loop program.
Pick one that's not too annoying to listen to over and
over again. Then, while the drum loop is playing, audition
the other music loops and notice which ones are really
playing tightly along with the beat and which ones sound
like the musician was a little bit off here and there.
You might even discover that the drum loop seems to be
off from the rest of the music loops. In that case, try
a different drum loop; it may not be as tight as you
originally had thought. It may be surprising to you how
many music loops you find that you thought were pretty
good until you tried this little experiment.
That's basically how I learned about the versatility
of a tightly played music loop, and every acid loop on
these discs are checked that way. It's surprising how
rare it is to find a whole acid loop library that is
consistently tight, let alone all the acid loops in all
of the libraries coming from one company. Most of the
discs that I've come across that are as consistently
tight have usually been "quantized" or in some other
way artificially tightened up. Not that this is always
bad, but it usually loses some of its natural feel when
done that way.
It takes a lot more recording, editing, and eliminating
than is usually done in order to keep only the tightly "in
the pocket" acid loops, but to me it's well worth it.
To me this tightness factor alone makes these loop
collections about 3 or 4 times more valuable than most
of the others. Because it takes 3 or 4 times as many
of the most of the commercially produced ones to trim
down to this amount of tightly played acid loops.
The keys that the acid loops are being played
in are included in the file structure, and also noted
in the file name. These are both very important, but
not yet very commonly included time saving features.
The information about the key of the acid loop is part
of the "acidizing" process and allows many of the loop
programs to automatically transpose the acid loop to
the key of the song. It makes the acid loop useable in
songs in other keys than the original playing.
At this point in time not every acid loop is transposable
to any key, at least not without sounding weird. Most
everything can be transposed 2 or 3 notes up or down
ok, and some acid loops do fine transposed much more,
it depends a lot on the instrument type and the program
being used. There are some programs already that can
transpose most material an octave or so and still sound
very realistic. The technology for transposing music
loops is still just barely getting underway but holds
a lot of promise for the future. The ability to transpose
the material further and potentially into all other keys
will increase as the transposing technology improves.
At very least, having the keys set makes the acid loops
several times as useful in the programs that can read
the embedded information, because the acid loops can
be much more easily used in several additional keys.
Several programs are doing this now, and it is rapidly
becoming a standard feature in loop programs, since the
loops and the programs are more useful when they do.
Noting the key in the file name makes it much
easier to find the loops that will work in the song's
key. Most of the time the key of the
acid loop needs to be within a few semitones of the
song's key in order to still sound realistic. Without
knowing the key of the acid loop, the time needed to
audition prospective loops is multiplied several fold.
It's a big time saver having the acid loop's key in
The file names also contain the instrument name
so that once it's entered into the song it's easier
to find it when you want to arrange where you want
it in the song. It's much easier to find
a bass loop in a song if all the bass loops say bass
in the name, the guitar loops say guitar in the name
and so on. It's much better than just a number or some
other interesting words. It's another time saver.
The file name also contains the tempo of the
acid loop. This also helps narrow down
the searching process quite a bit. The closer the acid
loop's tempo is to the song's tempo the more likely
it is that it will work well in that song. It's another
way to streamline the audition process and save time.
The acid loops are also arranged into folders
of material that can be used in the same song. The
folders usually contain lots of variations of the same
theme. Unless there are variations to choose from and
arrange, a music loop would mostly be useful to create
a rhythmic groove, and not very useful in composing
the parts that change with the chord structure and
melody lines. The folders contain either cuts from
the same take, or in the same mood, so that if an acid
loop is found that fits well in a song, there are probably
more loops in the same folder that will work in the
song as well. This also helps
keep the creative process going and the searching time
down to a minimum.
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