Manual for firmware v1.2

(please update your unit in order to get full functionality as described here)

 

  1. A few hints and precautions
  2. How to update your Loopstyler
  3. User interface
  4. Working with patches
  5. List and explanation of factory patches UPDATED (11/5/2024)
  6. Easy Play mode
  7. Tape Loop mode
  8. Sequencer mode
  9. Chords Programming mode
  10. Euclidean Rhythms NEW (13/5/2024)
  11. Printed manual
  12. Installing a Li-Po battery

 

A few hints and precautions

This is not a toy and is not to be handled by children of any age, because of the small parts and materials used. The printed circuit board and the front panel are made from FR4 (fiberglass-reinforced epoxy laminate). They are manufactured as larger panels and then cut in pieces. This can leave residues of potentially irritant dust at the left and right side of the top panel.

While the device is new, it might be hard to plug in 3.5mm Jack cable connectors into the sockets, but this will get better as you use the device. Please make sure that each connector is inserted properly. If this requires to use a certain amount of force, be careful to only apply it straight in line of the connector, as bending it sideways may cause damage.

If your unit does not contain a built-in battery, the power sliding switch should be in OFF position (down) while you connect the USB power. After switching ON (up position), please allow a few seconds for the device to boot up. You should see yellow LED light blinking in the top right corner, which indicates SD card activity. Once you see the first yellow LED from the group of 8 LEDs glowing, the Loopstyler is ready to play.

When powering off, always wait until the red LED stops glowing before unplugging the USB power. Also, do not remove or insert the SD card while the device is on. If the device becomes unresponsive, freezes and does not want to power of, move the power switch to OFF position (down), wait 10 seconds, and press STOP button (lower one from the two buttons at the right side). This will causee hard reset.

 

How to update your Loopstyler

  1. connect the Loopstyler to your PC using the provided USB cable
  2. a new disk drive will appear, open the file download_updates.html
  3. click on the "Download updates here" link
  4. follow the online instructions

If your computer does not have the classic USB‑A port to use with the cable supplied by us, or you don't have a suitable cable at hand (e.g. USB‑C to Micro‑USB), you can remove the SD card and insert it into your computer's card reader, then continue with step 2. Please see page 3 of the printed manual for information about removing the SD card safely.

 

User interface

Click or tap on a control to see what it is doing.

 

Working with patches

 

List and explanation of factory patches

You can find it here.

 

Easy Play mode

Please note that a different function is executed by pressing the buttons for a short vs. long time. In the guide we will often specify how to press a button, but if it's not mentioned, assume we mean a short press.

In this mode you can play sounds as configured in patches, or access any sound engine using external MIDI keyboard. Please consult page 2 of the printed manual to get familiar with the basic controls and check page 7 for information about MIDI.

To get back into this mode after switching to another mode, or to restart it, long press button 1. You will see the first yellow LED glow, indicating that the default patch contains a single bank with samples. Initially, the patch 1 is loaded. You can use PAT key to load another patch, as shown on page 4.

You can record your own samples from microphone or line input, and play them chromatically with pitch shifting, or at the same pitch as recorded. This is explained in detail on page 6 of the printed manual.

To initiate recording, long press START and see how red LED next to it starts blinking. This indicates that recording is in progress. Yellow LEDs indicate signal level, while blue LEDs show how much of the 16 seconds buffer is filled with the sound.

To stop recording, press STOP, or let the recording stop automatically when the buffer is full. Afterwards, Loopstyler will analyze the recorded material, chop it by silence into individual samples, and assign them to the keys. The voice commentary will inform you about how many sounds were found.

All recorded samples will be stored to the SD card for later use. You can find them in rec/capture directory. At the moment the firmware does not have functionality to re-use them without manually moving the files to "samples" directory and assigning them to a patch, but we plan to add a way to do this without need to use a computer.

Commands specific to Easy Play mode:

  • ER / ED (Euclidean rhythms / drums): both commands will do the same, ED is a synonym that was added as it is easier to enter. This will invoke a "generator" operating on sampled sound engine, i.e. a function that generates notes to play. Use buttons START and STOP to control playback, TE command or +/- keys to set tempo, or QT to quit. Please consult the related paragraph where this generator is explained in detail. It is also described on page 5 of the manual with omission of pitch shift & transpose control (using KEY command) which was added in the firmware 1.2 (after the manual was printed).

    There was a bug where Euclidean rhythms generator caused restart when used on a patch with less than 48 samples. The same happened if you recorded your own samples, as it was unlikely to capture 48 of them. This was fixed in the v1.2 update.

  • AD1 / AD2 / ADC (A/D input select): configures input source for samples recording. Use AD1 to select microphone (default setting), or AD2 for line input. Alternatively, use ADC to switch from one to the other. Voice commentary will tell you which input was selected.
  • LSTR (listen through): bypasses all sound engines and sends the signal from microphone/line input directly to the headphones output. This is useful for testing. Use command QT to exit from this mode.
  • LE / SE (layout / sample edit): these commands are not yet implemented in the initial firmware, but will be added in the next update. The command SE will allow you to manually edit samples (trim, pitch shift & apply basic effects). Using the command LE you will be able to precisely configure the keyboard layout.
  • QT (quit): exits from an active generator or test mode.

Other commands available in Easy Play mode:

  • PAT+n / PAT+PAT+nn (load patch n, nn): use this command to load another patch.
  • VC / CT / SF (voice commentary, click track, stylus feedback): enable or disable these audible clues.
  • VL / LV (volume / level): adjust output and input volumes. Please consult the printed manual where this is explained in detail.
  • DL / DD / DE (delay, delay disable, delay enable): control delay settings, enable or disable it. Please consult the printed manual where this is explained in detail.
  • RS / RR (record start/stop, record restart): record everything to the SD card. RS starts or stops recording, RR closes the current file and opens a new file, then continues recording. WAV files are stored on the SD card in rec/session directory. If you are recording while the Loopstyler is connected to a PC, you may need to restart it for the new files to appear.
  • ECC / ECS or ECD (external control: chromatic / samples or drums): configures MIDI controller behaviour, where each sample can either be played chromatically on its assigned MIDI channel, or all samples are assigned to keys within a single MIDI channel and played back at their default sampling rate. ECD command is just a synonym for ECS as it might be easier to remember. For information about using MIDI, please consult the printed manual.
  • FRST (factory reset): deletes all user settings. This is useful when the unit does not work as expected and it is hard to tell why. User content (sequences, patterns, samples) will not be erased.

Videos related to the Easy Play mode:

 

Tape Loop mode

Please note that a different function is executed by pressing the buttons for a short vs. long time. In the guide we will often specify how to press a button, but if it's not mentioned, assume we mean a short press.

This mode currently supports 4 tracks, controlled by buttons 1-4. In future firmware versions there will be total of 16 tracks, additional 12 tracks will be controlled by numeric keys (bottom row of playable area) using commands TRK+1 to TRK+Y.

After selecting this mode by long pressing button 2, you will see that the tape starts rolling immediately, as indicated by blue LEDs. Because this is an infinite loop, and it is not important where exactly on the loop you start recording, there are no start-stop controls at the moment (they may be added later). You can also see that the first 4 yellow LEDs glow, indicating that all 4 tracks are active. Buttons 1-4 are used to mute/umute a track. Try to short press one of them, a corresponding LED will glow dimly, indicating that the track is muted. You can't hear any effect at the moment as nothing has been recorded yet.

To initiate recording, first long press START and see how red LED next to it starts glowing. This indicates that recording is armed, now we can select which track to record to, using buttons 1-4 (alternatively, we can disarm recording by short pressing STOP). Short press button 1 for example. Red LED will start blinking, indicating that recording is in progress. Also, the first yellow LED starts pulsing, indicating that we're recording to track 1. If the click track is enabled, you will hear it in the headphones (use command CT to enable/disable click track).

At this point, anything that you play using stylus or MIDI keyboard, will be recorded to track 1. Whenever the tape loop wraps around, a new layer is overdubbed on top of it. Everything that you hear in the headphones will be recorded, except the click track and voice commentary (use commands CT and VC to control these functions).

To stop recording, press STOP (while recording is progress).

To delete a track, press STOP (while recording is not in progress), then press button 1-4 to select which track to erase.

To mute or unmute a track, press one of the buttons 1-4. This works regardless if recording is in progress or not. You can even mute the track you are recording to, but then you won't hear what's being recorded - only later, when you unmute it. This could have some creative uses in itself, for example when recording from microphone.

Commands specific to Tape Loop mode:

  • TL (tape length): after invoking this command, use buttons 1-4 to increase/decrease tape lenght. Each LED represents one bar, number from the first row is multiplied by number from the second row. You can set the number of bars to anything between 1x1 and 16x16, which is 1-256 bars total. To indicate values above 8, LEDs use two brightness levels: the number represented by such configuration is equal to number of brightly lit LEDs plus 8. To indicate 16, all 8 LEDs will pulse.

    Use button START to accept the new setting, or STOP to cancel and revert to the previous value. Blue LEDs which indicate tape progress will move slower or faster, depending on the tape length - one cycle represents one loop. Because the memory is limited, with more bars the number of tracks may decrease. For example when configuring 4x8 bars, two tracks will be available instead of the default four. In future firmware versions the plan is to expand this to use the SD card, so multiple tracks are available with longer tape.

  • REC (record): enables or disables recording from microphone/line input, in addition to internally generated sounds. It is recommended to invoke this command while recording is not in progress, as otherwise sounds of stylus will get recorded too. When recording is stopped with STOP button, the sound of pressing the button will get recorded - this will be improved in the next firmware version by ignoring last 500ms of the audio signal in case the microphone is active.
  • There was a bug in the initial firmware, where the microphone was always active and ignored ADC/AD1/AD2 commands used to switch between mic and line-in. This was fixed in the v1.2 update.

Other commands available in Tape Loop mode:

  • VC / CT / SF (voice commentary, click track, stylus feedback): enable or disable these audible clues.
  • VL / LV (volume / level): adjust output and input volumes. Please consult the printed manual where this is explained in detail.
  • DL / DD / DE (delay, delay disable, delay enable): control delay settings, enable or disable it. Please consult the printed manual where this is explained in detail.
  • RS / RR (record start/stop, record restart): record everything to the SD card. RS starts or stops recording, RR closes the current file and opens a new file, then continues recording. WAV files are stored on the SD card in rec/session directory. If you are recording while the Loopstyler is connected to a PC, you may need to restart it for the new files to appear.
  • PAT+n / PAT+PAT+nn (load patch n, nn): you don't need to switch back to Easy Play mode to load another patch.
  • ECC / ECS or ECD (external control: chromatic / samples or drums): configures MIDI controller behaviour, where each sample can either be played chromatically on its assigned MIDI channel, or all samples are assigned to keys within a single MIDI channel and played back at their default sampling rate. ECD command is just a synonym for ECS as it might be easier to remember. For information about using MIDI, please consult the printed manual.
  • FRST (factory reset): deletes all user settings. This is useful when the unit does not work as expected and it is hard to tell why. User content (sequences, patterns, samples) will not be erased.

Videos explaining the Tape Loop mode:

 

Sequencer mode

Please note that a different function is executed by pressing the buttons for a short vs. long time. In the guide we will often specify how to press a button, but if it's not mentioned, assume we mean a short press.

This mode currently supports 4 tracks, controlled by buttons 1-4. In future firmware versions there will be total of 16 tracks, additional 12 tracks will be controlled by numeric keys (bottom row of playable area) using commands TRK+1 to TRK+Y.

After selecting this mode by long pressing button 3, you will see two yellow and four blue LEDs lit up, indicating that the sequence lenght is set to 2x4 bars as a default.

At this point you can change the sequence length using command SL (sequence length) and subsequently buttons 1-4 to increase/decrease first and second number, multipling which gives us the total number of bars. For further explanation, please see the "commands" paragraph below. Press START to accept the new setting, or STOP to cancel and revert to the previous value.

The sequencer can work in two modes: live recording (default), where the track starts running and note events are added in real time, and step sequencing, where you enter all notes and rests one by one. To switch between these modes, use commands SQS and SQR. These two modes can be used alternatively in one song, to help recording each track in the most suitable way, for example step sequencing for drums and live recording for leads.

Initially, track 1 is selected by default. To select track for recording, press one of the buttons 1-4 (while nothing plays) and see how the corresponding yellow LED, and also the red LED next to the START button, blink shortly in confirmation.

To initiate recording, long press START. You should hear click track (unless it was switched off using command CT). There is a time for you to synchronize with the track: first few bars (as many as configured in the second row by command SL) will pass, with recording armed - this is indicated by yellow LEDs pulsing. Afterwards recording starts.

While recording, yellow and blue LEDs indicate progress, changing as fast as the sequencer steps through bars. The internal resolution is 96 pulses per quarter note. Events are recorded polyphonically and from multiple sources: chords played on a MIDI keyboard (set to any channel in order to select a particular sound engine or sample) can be sequenced together with inputs from stylus using sound engines and samples as configured in the patch.

Once the sequencer runs through its configured length, recording stops. You can use STOP button too, to stop recording manually. If you restart recording without switching to another track (buttons 1-4), the existing sequence will be owerwriten with a new one.

In future firmware versions the plan is to add functions to combine sequences by merging and chaining, and apply operations like quantization or transpose.

To play back the recorded sequence or a mix of multiple tracks, if you recorded more than one, short press START. Pressing START again will pause the playback, this is indicated by pulsing red LED next to the START button. To stop the playback, press STOP.

During playback, buttons 1-4 are used to mute/umute a track. After pressing one of them, a corresponding yellow LED will blink shortly, together with one of the red LEDs: top one if the track was unmuted, and bottom one if the track was muted.

Commands specific to Sequencer mode:

  • SL (sequence length): allows to change number of bars using buttons 1-4. The default sequence lenght is 2x4 bars, indicated by two yellow and four blue LEDs. Each LED represents one bar, number from the first row is multiplied by number from the second row. You can set the number of bars to anything between 1x1 and 16x16, which is 1-256 bars total. Use button START to accept the new setting, or STOP to cancel and revert to the previous value. To indicate values above 8, LEDs use two brightness levels: the number represented by such configuration is equal to number of brightly lit LEDs plus 8. To indicate 16, all 8 LEDs will pulse.
  • SQS (sequencer, step-sequencing mode): selects the mode where you enter all notes and rests one by one (as opposed to live recording, where the track runs and events are added in real time). You can enter multiple events at the same position, to create chords or combine samples. Also you can navigate back and forth and fix incorrectly entered notes.
  • Please note that this sequencer mode is not fully finished, it may have bugs, and not everything is yet implemented in the initial firmware.

  • SQR (sequencer, recording mode): this is the default mode, where note events are added in real time (as opposed to step sequencing, where you enter all notes and rests one by one).

Other commands available in Sequencer mode:

  • VC / CT / SF (voice commentary, click track, stylus feedback): enable or disable these audible clues.
  • VL / LV (volume / level): adjust output and input volumes. Please consult the printed manual where this is explained in detail.
  • DL / DD / DE (delay, delay disable, delay enable): control delay settings, enable or disable it. Please consult the printed manual where this is explained in detail.
  • RS / RR (record start/stop, record restart): record everything to the SD card. RS starts or stops recording, RR closes the current file and opens a new file, then continues recording. WAV files are stored on the SD card in rec/session directory. If you are recording while the Loopstyler is connected to a PC, you may need to restart it for the new files to appear.
  • PAT+n / PAT+PAT+nn (load patch n, nn): you don't need to switch back to Easy Play mode to load another patch.
  • ECC / ECS or ECD (external control: chromatic / samples or drums): configures MIDI controller behaviour, where each sample can either be played chromatically on its assigned MIDI channel, or all samples are assigned to keys within a single MIDI channel and played back at their default sampling rate. ECD command is just a synonym for ECS as it might be easier to remember. For information about using MIDI, please consult the printed manual.
  • FRST (factory reset): deletes all user settings. This is useful when the unit does not work as expected and it is hard to tell why. User content (sequences, patterns, samples) will not be erased.

Videos explaining the Sequencer mode:

 

Chords Programming mode

This functionality is not yet implemented in the firmware v1.2.

 

Euclidean Rhythms generator

This generator can be used in Easy Play or Tape Loop modes. To invoke it, use command ER or ED (Euclidean rhythms / drums). ED was added as a synonym which is easier to enter because on the Loopstyler's keyboard, those two letters are next to each other. It generates notes to be played by the sampled sound engine. The best results can be achieved with percussive samples like drums, sound effects and fast decay bass sounds. It currently does not work with other (synthesized) sound engines.

Use buttons START and STOP to control playback. Yellow LED lights indicate firing of track events, while blue LED lights indicate amount of active tracks, or which track is selected for editing (while using commands SND, KEY or PAT).

Setting up the patterns

To configure amount of tracks (between 1 and 8), use the TRK key followed by +/- or a number:

To assign a sample to a track use the SND key, then click on a key from the playable area. To select which track you are assigning the sample to, use the +/- keys. A corresponding blue LED light will keep pulsing, indicating the track you're working with.

In a similar way, use the PAT key to configure timings. Note how the blue LED light changes from pulsing to blinking. Click a key from the 1st group of 4x4 keys (highighted below by white numbers), to set amount of events in the track, while keys in the 2nd group (red numbers) set the track's length:

For example, to define a rhythm of 3:7 beats, click on the "white 3" and then "red 7" as shown above. By combining tracks of different lengths and amount of hits, it is possible to create surprisingly interesting rhythms. Also, to quickly switch between samples and timing, use the center key.

Pitch shifting and transpose

You can use KEY to pitch shift individual tracks, or transpose the pattern as a whole. While effectively you are changing pitch of a sample played by a track, if more than one tracks use a certain sample, you can set pitch for each of them individually. To indicate which track are you working with, a corresponding blue LED light will be lit continuously (as opposed to pulsing or blinking when using SND or PAT command). If you click KEY one more time, all tracks will lit up - this means that now you are manipulating all tracks at once. Clicking it again will revert back to adjusting one track only.

Then you can use up and down arrow (keys MD and WF) to change the pitch by a semitone, or click a key from the playable area to set the pitch to that note.

Randomizing and storing the patterns

To randomize timings and samples, use WF and MD keys. This may be a quick way to stumble upon interesting combinations for editing later. Once you found a pattern worth keeping, store it permanently under one of the 16 keys in the 3rd group: click WR and then the destination key. To load a pattern, you don't need to use RD, just click one of those 16 keys:

Storing the set of patterns into a bank

The command sequence WR+PAT+n and subsequently RD+PAT+n (similar to how you load & store a patch) allows you to store, and later load, the 16 currently configured patterns (including timings, assigned samples and their pitch) as a pattern bank. Each bank is kept in a file in the "patterns" directory on the SD card, named "pattern1.bin" and similar (unlike patches, this is not a human-readable or editable format at the moment).

This way you can manage 9 independent banks of Euclidean patterns. If that's not enough, use commands WR+PAT+PAT+nn and RD+PAT+PAT+nn to access banks from 10 to 99.

Commands specific to the Euclidean Rhythms generator:

  • TRK<- or TRK+> (change amount of tracks): To change the amount of tracks by 1, use the TRK key followed by +/-. There can be between 1 and 8 tracks.
  • SR (sample reverse): flip all active samples. Applying the SR comand repeatedly creates particularly interesting results, as switching patterns or assigning samples to tracks will combine forward and reversed samples.
  • <-/+> (adjust tempo): while the generator is running, use the -/+ keys to adjust the tempo in steps of 5 BPM. The center key resets it to 120 BPM.
  • QT (quit): exit the generator.

Other commands available in the Euclidean Rhythms generator:

  • TRK+n (tracks): to set amount of tracks directly, use the command TRKn to set it to n tracks, i.e. TRK6 will enable 6 tracks. There can be 1 to 8 tracks.
  • TE+nnn (tempo): to set tempo directly, use command TEnnn to set it to nnn BPM, i.e. TE080 or TE240 will set it to 80 or 240 BMP respectively. The range for tempo is from 15 to 480 BPM.
  • DL / DD / DE (delay, delay disable, delay enable): control delay settings, enable or disable it. Please consult the printed manual where this is explained in detail.
  • RS / RR (record start/stop, record restart): record everything to the SD card. RS starts or stops recording, RR closes the current file and opens a new file, then continues recording. WAV files are stored on the SD card in rec/session directory. If you are recording while the Loopstyler is connected to a PC, you may need to restart it for the new files to appear.
  • PAT+n / PAT+PAT+nn (load patch n, nn): you don't need to exit this generator to load another patch, just stop the playback.

 

Printed manual

You can find it here.

 

Installing a Li-Po battery

If you decide to install a lithium-polymer cell, you are doing so at your own risk. It is important to choose one with an undervoltage & overcurrent protection circuit and (in case that you will plug it instead of solder it), with correct polarity wiring. The optional JST connector on the circuit board underside has 2.0mm pitch and is marked with plus and minus signs. On the battery, the red wire is plus, black is minus. The ON/OFF sliding switch does not disconnect the battery, so it will continue charging in OFF position. There are three LEDs in the top left corner: the first one (red) indicates power-on state, the second one (yellow) indicates charging in progress, and the third one (blue) lights up when charging is complete. Never leave the device charging unattended (this is a general safety rule valid for all electronics with lithium batteries).

To disassemble the unit, unscrew the two black screws on the front side. Be careful to not lose the 4 washers which are located between the front panel and circuit board. There are 2 washers of a different thickness and - to tell them apart easily - different colour too (for example two black and two white or transparent). Together they add precisely as much clearance as there needs to be so the front panel does not bend and buttons can function normally. It is not important in what order the washers are placed on screws, just that there is one of each kind on both screws.

To choose a suitable battery, there are three things to pay attention to (besides that it needs to be a flat, 3.7V lithium-polymer type). First, it is crucial that the battery has undervoltage & overcurrent protection circuit. You can tell easily if it has it or not - look for a narrow board with components at the side where wires connect to, like in this picture (click on it to open a higher resolution image):

Another important thing is that the connector has to be of 2.0mm pitch (distance between contacts). These JST connectors exist in various sizes but the 2.0mm pitch is very common for li-po batteries with capacity optimal for Loopstyler, which is around 1000mAh, so you should not have any problem finding a suitable battery. You can use anything between 250mAh and 1300mAh (batteries with larger capacity will probably not fit). For example the 603450 1200mAh type as shown above will give you plenty of play time, approximately 8 hours and will fully charge in 2.5 hours (charging circuit limits the current to 500mA). Loopstyler consumes ~90-160mA, which varies depending on CPU load. A 250mAh battery should give you 2 hours of play, while 1000mAh battery should sustain for 6-8 hours.

The third parameter to pay attention to is physical size of the battery. There is roughly 45mm x 50mm x 6mm space in the enclosure. A thicker battery than 6mm is not recommended as it might exert pressure on the circuit board, especially if you add some insulation layer. Some types that we have used in our dev and test unites are 603440 850mAh cell (34 x 40 x 6mm), 502030 250mAh (20 x 30 x 5mm), or 503450 1000mAh (34 x 50 x 6mm).

The connector needs to use this polarity and is inserted this way. If your battery's connector is wired with opposite polarity, it is easy to swap the wires, you need to press on contacts with a sharp object which loosens them and then they can be removed from the plastic connector body. In case that you need to detach the connector from Loopstyler PCB eventually, be careful to not rip off the nearby small SMD components.

If you plan to solder the battery wires which is a prefered method of installation as it should result in a more reliable and durable connection, be extremely careful to not short-circuit the wires and to not allow a loose wire randomly touch components and traces on the PCB. Ideally use a piece of tape to temporarily insulate the end of one wire, while you are working on the other. Make sure that the polarity is correct, plus and minus marks are printed on the PCB. However this marking is farther away from the actual contacts that you need to solder the wires on (so they are visible even if the connector is installed). Click on the picture to open a higher resolution image:

 

Thanks to our friend LZ from Projector Streetshop for making a video documenting the li-po installation, you can find it here.