Comparing Audio Editing Software With Looping Tools

orange looping toolAlthough audio editing software and looping tools both enhance music—and work together—how they do it is different. Here we’re going to look at how audio editing software and looping tools work together to enhance music. When see how each one functions, you’ll get a clear understanding of how they are similar, yet different.

First we’ll look at audio editing software

Audio editing software is software that allows music makers to create and edit audio data. Editing software can be applied completely or in part, either as a computer application, a loadable kernel module, or a library. There are also different kinds that perform various functions.

Wave Editors

Wave Editors are digital audio editors, and it’s quite easy to find freeware programs on the internet. Most editors are not only able to edit audio, but can also adjust stereo channels, apply effects and filters, and much more.

Digital audio workstation

A digital audio workstation (DAW) is a work station that is mostly software-based. They come in what are called suites, and are composed of many distinct software components.

Audio editing software

Audio editors are designed to be used with music; they allow the user to:

  • Import and export various kinds of audio file formats;
  • Edit the duration of any sound on the audio timeline;
  • Record audio from more than one input, and store the audio recordings in the computer;
  • Mix multiple sound tracks/sources, combine them in different volume levels, and pan from different channels to one or more output tracks;
  • Fade in or out of a clip, or between clips;
  • Play back sound (usually after it is mixed) and send it to one or more outputs, such as a recording medium, speakers, or additional processors;
  • Convert the audio between different sound quality levels or file formats; and
  • Apply simple and advanced filters or effects, including equalizations, flanging, reverb, compressions, expansion, and audio noise reduction.
  • Edit the start time and stop time;

As you can see, there are lots of different ways to edit audio recordings. So now we’ll look at looping tools.

Audio loops and looping tools

Audio loops are recordings that are edited to fit perfectly into a musical meter. Any audio editing software can be used to define the loops from an audio source, and save them separately.

The history of loops – a sampler

A sampler was the name of one of the first digital audio tools. Although it was originally intended to make new synthesizer sounds out of audio recordings, some enterprising producers started sampling short rhythmic sections from songs that were already recorded. These rhythmic sections were usually drum breaks, but you’ve probably heard them referred to as drum solos. Producers would use the loops found on the samplers, and repeated them for new songs—which, of course, raised legal issues and an ongoing debate on intellectual property.

Working with looping tools

There are two ways to work with audio looping tools:

  • You can set the sequence tempo to the audio recording tempo, or
  • You can match the loop tempo to the sequence tempo.

The main advantage of these kinds of loops in a production is that the producer can incorporate a variety of performances they normally would not have access to in a song. Many of them are high-quality recordings that are completed in a professional music studio with well-known players. Although the variation and subtlety that comes with a live performance can’t be captured in a couple of short sample loops, if looping tools are used creatively, they can boost the music production value of an audio recording.

As you can see, both audio editing software and looping tools enhance music, but they perform different functions. Audio editing software alters various components of the audio—from advancing filters or effects to fading in or out, and converting audio between different sound quality levels while looping tools boost the music production value of audio recordings.

It would be like comparing audio editing software and looping tools to different functions at an auto body shop. Editing software does a complete overhaul of the audio recording, such as getting out dints and painting, while the looping tools do the detailing and add decals to the body of the car; however, the work is done to certain components of an audio recording, not a car.

This article was written by Matthew Trekovsky, who is a musician and loves experimenting with music loops.

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