Tom's Definitive Linux Software Roundup: Audio Production

Loopers, Trackers, And Mixers


Freewheeling (v. 0.6)

Freewheeling is a live looping sampler. The user interface is extremely old, though other live looping samplers aren't very pretty either. There is no menu bar or toolbar. The main screen contains the entirety of the application, drawn in DOS-style graphics.

Up to eight loops are activated using color-coded blocks near the top of the window. Right and left clicks of the mouse activate, deactivate, lock, and disable these loops. Using JACK Control, Freewheeling can easily be connected to VMPK for input, and output directly to system playback or elsewhere in a more complex chain.

Kluppe (v. 0.6.14)

Kluppe is a live looping and recording application that supports multiple loops. Utilizing JACK Control, output from each loop can be sent separately to different inputs.

Starting a new usable loop requires a new buffer to be created and associated with it. When first opened, the user interface is plain, hosting a menu bar and buttons to start a new project. Creating a new looper opens the waveform and options for that loop. Loop options include output volume, recording/mix, ratio, playback start/end positions, playback loop length, recording start/end positions, record loop length, number of grains, grain density, L/R pan, and an autopanner. Unfortunately, none of these controls are labeled, requiring a mouse-over to reveal the tool tip label.

SooperLooper (v. 1.6.14)

SooperLooper is a live looping sampler application that requires JACK to function. SooperLooper can record audio from an input device like a microphone, instrument, or another app. Recorded audio can be looped and multiple loops can exist, though each requires new JACK connections. Recorded loops can also be overdubbed with more audio input. While it is possible to use SooperLooper live, it has been reported that using the keyboard/mouse to control it can make playing instruments at the same time quite difficult.

The UI in SooperLooper is unlike most other PC apps. Essentially a black screen filled with blue buttons, check boxes, and a few input fields, the color patterns and curved buttons make SooperLooper look like the LCARS interface from Star Trek. After tackling JACK connections, Sooper Looper is a pretty simple application to get up and running.


LiveMix (v. 0.49)

LiveMix is a mixer application intended for technicians at live performances. The user interface greatly resembles a hardware mixer board, complete with knobs, sliders, buttons, and faux-LCD readouts. Some of the customizable controls include master EQ, gain, volume, pre-fader, post-fader, pan, balance, reverb, and independently controlled channel/output volume.

JACK connections to the system playback output were already made when starting LiveMix. The virtual keyboard function of ZynAddSubFX worked great for us as an input.


MilkyTracker (v. 0.90.80)

MilkyTracker is an audio tracker application modeled after the popular FastTracker 2 DOS app. MilkyTracker works by adding notes from instruments and/or samples into a pattern editor, where patterns can be looped. Notes are entered using corresponding keys on the computer keyboard; most of the letter keys and half the number keys activate notes.

Instruments are saved as .xi files, while samples can be in .wav. This application also has a built-in synthesizer. Sound samples can be created by drawing a waveform and instruments can be created using a piano roll editor.

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