Want to get creative with MIDI sequences? Check out the midiphy LoopA, a polyphonic MIDI sequencer and looper. With 36 MIDI clips and many cool performance features, this little DIY gadget looks like a whole lot of fun.
The midiphy LoopA is the brainchild of Peter Knoblach aka Hawkeye, who says that he’s been working on it for four years. The device is based on MIDIbox / FreeRTOS and an STM32F4 microcontroller. It comes as a DIY kit, so you’ll need to do some soldering (including surface-mounted components) to put it together, which is all part of the fun. The kit can be ordered with an acrylic case or in a bare bones version without an enclosure. If you’re into quirky MIDI devices like the Nanoloop, or still waiting for your Cirklon, building a LoopA seems like a great project.
The LoopA holds 36 MIDI clips in six horizontal tracks and six vertical scenes. With individual mutes, this allows you to arrange your song live. You can scroll through clips, change the length, and zoom, stretch and transpose clips at any time, even during recording. There’s also live overdubbing, which gives the LoopA its namesake looping functionality. Notes can be dynamically quantized during recording or playback, but their original positions are always retained in memory. The LoopA holds a maximum of 10000 notes per session, which means that the only real limiting factor for polyphony is the MIDI throughput rate.
There are various performance features for getting creative. The LoopA has a dedicated knob for live transposition and “beatloop”. The developer says that this lets you scramble sequences in a variety of ways, while keeping their duration and harmony intact. Another dedicated knob takes care of manual sequence scrubbing and time scratching. Finally, there’s a knob for launching six new scenes at once, for quickly moving to the next section of the track.
All of this sounds like a lot of fun, and it seems like midiphy has also put a lot of thought into the user interface. The encoders have an Elektron-style push acceleration feature, which lets you make fast changes if needed. There are various shortcuts for launching clips and muting tracks from any screen. And the crisp OLED display keeps you in the know about what’s going on.
The LoopA has three DIN MIDI outputs and two inputs. Four additional virtual MIDI outputs are available via a USB connection and let you control software synths or your DAW. For storage, the LoopA uses SD cards.
Price and availability
The bare-bones LoopA Essential Kit, which doesn’t include a case, costs EUR 169.98. The kit with an acrylic case is EUR 209.99, shipping not included. A metal case will be available in early 2020, the developer says.
It’s important to note that the kits do not contain all required parts. You’ll need to purchase some additional components from an electronic parts supplier of your choice to complete the build. A BOM (bill of materials) is available at the developer’s site, including a list for the Mouser part list importer tool. As of now, the additional required parts will set you back another USD 118.95 plus shipping at Mouser.