Loopcloud 6 Review - In-Depth

How does this AI sample manager stay Always Interesting ?

Christof Baer
Christof Baer
last updated this article on 
May 2, 2022
 and first floated it on 
March 6, 2022
Loopcloud 6 Review - In-Depth

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The In-Depth Review

Since the 1980s, samples have become a staple of music making. No longer do you have to create your own samples, or rely on sample CDs. Nowadays, it is easier than ever to obtain high quality samples in endless quantities. Services like Splice, Noiiz, ADSR Sounds and Loopmasters revolutionised the use of samples. Just like iTunes and Spotify atomised albums into single songs to download individually, these sample retailers help you find and buy individual samples, without having to buy a full sample pack, or create digging obscure vinyls.

But now, the market has matured. We have reached sample saturation. No longer are musicians focusing on amassing simply more and more samples. Today's producers are all about speed to stay in the "flow". There is a premium on finding the right samples quickly, before inspiration passes.

Organising the Chaos

Loopcloud 6 brings all your samples together

Of course, you can just organise your samples into a neatly divided folder architecture on your hard drive. Nevertheless, this is onerous. Step forward the saviours of sample stress. Sample management software promises to automatically tag and organise all samples strewn across your hard drives and folders. At the last count, I have amassed over 100,000 samples on my hard drive. This is clearly unmanageable manually.

One of the earliest contenders among sample managers was Loopcloud. Loopmasters, a retailer specialising in samples from various sample creators and labels for nearly 20 years, created Loopcloud in 2017. 5 years later, and Loopcloud released version 6.0 in 2021. How does this latest version stack up in the 2020s?

Starting to Sample

First things first. Loopcloud is both the name of the sample retailer, and the name of the sample management software. You don't have to use the software to buy Loopcloud samples. Just using the website allows you to preview samples, and buy them.

To install the Loopcloud 6 sample manager, download the software of 109 MB, in either MacOS and Windows format. The software works in standalone mode, and connects via a Loopcloud VST, AU or AAX plugin to your DAW. Ableton Live, Apple Logic, Steinberg Cubase, Propellerheads Reason, FL Studio, Bitwig software are covered in the manual, but other DAWs that support AU/AAX and VST plugins should also work.

Right in the Interface

When you first open Loopcloud 6, the browser dominates it, showing the Loopcloud store. The store is organised by sample packs, not individual sample categories. Searching for individual samples across all sample packs is easy. The search bar operates like a search engine. For example, if you are looking for an acoustic guitar loop, entering "acoustic guitar" offers the predefined "Acoustic Guitar" instrument type in the auto-complete. And "loop" as a key search term lets you quickly choose only "Loops". And you can narrow your search results further with another menu, allowing you to choose Store/Liberary, Loops/Oneshots, Favourites only.

The Loopmasters store is built into Loopcloud

Another way to find samples in Loopcloud are the tags. Using the menus to organize all tags into categories, you can quickly discover instruments or genres you haven't thought about. The tag menus include:

  • Instruments: Bass, Drum, Cymbal, Hi Hat, Effects, Guitar, Keyboard, Mallet, Mixed, Percussion, String, Synth, Vocal, Wind and Brass.
  • Genres: Bass Music, Bassline, Blues, Breaks, Cinematic, Country, Disco, Downtempo, Drum and Bass, Funk, Hard Dance, Hip Hop, House, IDM, Jazz, Pop, Raggae, Rock, Soul and RnB, Strings, Synthwave, Techno, Trance, World.
  • Labels: 72 sample labels are available in the Loopcloud store.
  • Formats: Audio (WAV, Construction Kit, REX2, Apple Loops), MIDI, Presets (Massive and Serum).
Loopcloud 6 offers plenty of filters to find the perfect samples

Navigating away from the Home tab, you will probably spend most of your time in the Library tab. This shows you all folders loaded into Loopcloud, both downloaded from the Loopcloud store, and any sample folder you have added from your own library.

Adding your own samples could not be easier. Choose "Add Samples..." in the menu bar, or simply drag and drop a folder containing samples from your drive into the Library. And if you start to new samples, Loopcloud gives you a 1GB Starter Pack to get you going. The Library is highly customizable. Many columns are available to flexibly choose from. Not just the sample name inside the folder structure, but you can also choose a preview waveform, and there are columns for instrument, genre, label, format, and much more.

Loopcloud is paying heed to its name: subscriptions now also include cloud storage space to upload bought and imported samples in the cloud. All uploaded samples are then available from anywhere, with tags saved alongside. Storage space starts from 5GB for the Artist Plan, rising to 50GB for the Studio Plan and 250GB for the Professional Plan.

AI keeps things neat and tidy

The party trick of Loopcloud is the auto-tagging. The software scans your samples, applies an AI derived algorithm to automatically detect instruments, loops or one shot, bpm, key, and much more. Importantly, I found the algorithm highly accurate. And the scanning is quick, taking only a few minutes for thousands of samples. The accuracy was impressive. Tempo, instrument, and type (one shot or loop) are mostly accurate the first time around - my guess is 99%. When the algorithm misses the mark, manually changing any assignments is just a click away. Open the Properties Editor, and change pretty much anything in the meta data.

I conducted some testing using 3 free sample libraries to measure the speed of importing & tagging, and the accuracy of both tagging correctly, and detecting bpm/key accurately. The benchmarking showed the following speed, from starting the import, to completed tagging & bpm/key detection. Loopcloud was extremely fast, and blew all other sample managers (Waves Audio COSMOS, Sononym, ADSR Sounds) out of the water.

  1. That Sound Gratis Free Library (950 samples, 718 MB): 23 seconds
  2. Waves Audio COSMOS Factory Library* (2,500 samples, 4 GB): 20 seconds
  3. Black Octopus Free Library (1,200 samples, 1.8GB): 29 seconds

Comparison of Speed, Accuracy and Price between the Loopcloud and the three main alternative sample managers

Keeping your Loopcloud library up-to-date is automatically done. Whenever you open Loopcloud, the software automatically scans all folders in your library. Great.

The Audio Filters side menu narrows down sample options to a tight set.

Another way to find the perfect sample is the Filter Library function. This is different from the Search function, insofar as it shows all folders that contain the filter applied. Whereas using the Search function presents you with a list of samples in the Store or your own Library that matches the search terms.

You can take filtering further with Audio Filters. They allow you to narrow samples down to specific keys, frequencies, length, bpm, and more. The History side bar is useful when you try many samples, and want to go back to some you tried earlier.

I was intrigued to try the new Match function, which is in beta stage. If you found a sample you like, but want Loopcloud to help you find similar alternatives, the AI can do the hard work for you. Choose between harmonic matches, rhythmic matches, or similar sounds.

For me, this function was a bit hit and miss, to the point of not being usable. Yes, you get several options, but to my ears they did not match well the original sample. I asked Loopcloud to find harmonic matches to a female vocal, and it serves up rhythmic synth loops that clearly did not match. So Loopcloud has a lot more work to do to take this function out of beta.

News you can Use

No question, there are more than enough options to find the right samples. Thereafter, it's all about how easy it is to export your samples into your DAW of choice.

This couldn't be easier. Click on Export, and drag and drop the sample into your software. All DAWs I tested - Logic Pro X, FL Studio, Ableton Live - accepted drag & drop samples from Loopcloud.

Loopcloud 6 also includes a nifty Loopcloud plugin. Load this AAX/AU/VST plugin to access a superior integration into your DAW:

  • Synchronisation: Syncs the start/stop, tempo, and key between the Loopcloud software and the DAW, making loop selection easy.
  • Audio Integration: Feeds Loopcloud into your DAW mixer, to add effects to your Loopcloud audio feed.

Chopping and changing

When most sample managers stop at helping you tag and find your samples, Loopcloud goes much further. This VST plugin also includes a sample and pattern editor.

  • Sample Editor: Quickly cut, pitch shift, delete, duplicate, and mute samples.
  • Pattern Editor: Easily turn individual one shots or loops into unique patterns. Includes ready-made patterns for kicks, hi hats, and many more, or create (and save) your own custom patterns. You can export those patterns, which turns your one shot patterns into custom loops.
  • Multi-Tracks: The sample and pattern editors are available across eight tracks. Assembling drum grooves from one shots is super easy. Just pick ready-made patterns for each track (e.g. kick, hi hat, snare, tom, crash), drop in your one shots in each track, and you created drum grooves ready to export.
Loopcloud is the best sample manager in my opinion. I will use Loopcloud as the nerve centre to find any samples in my 100,000+ sample library.

Not satisfied with the sample sound even after editing? Loopcloud has you covered with built-in effects. Effects can be chained in series, and each track can have its own effect chain. The sound quality is decent enough for producing a quick beat or demo, but I wouldn't replace even built-in effects in DAWs with them.

Loopcloud 6 offers the following built-in effects:

  • Compressor
  • Delay
  • EQ
  • Filter
  • Grainstretch
  • Panner
  • Reverb
  • Tonebox (Amp)
  • Stop Reverse
  • Vinyl Stop
Loopcloud 6 includes 10 different effects, from compressor to delay, EQ to reverb.

The effects can even be modulated on each track with several waveforms for simple effect automation. This is easy to achieve visually in the editor, with preset modulations such as a 4 bar filter sweep, with the cut off slowly opening. The quality of the effects is usable for demos, but I would not bake them into the audio for productions. However, I found it useful to stay in the "flow" by using just Loopcloud and get creative with building a groove, without having to switch to a DAW.

Loopcloud Demos: Storm clouds gathering, or a silver lining?

Here is a demo I created using Loopcloud samples. All samples are from Loopcloud, stretched to match the time, pitch shifted to match the key, and using multi-tracks, effects, pattern and sample editors:

  1. DRY Demo: Uses only 8 samples, with one shots arranged with preset patterns, and loops pitch-shifted and stretched to match the tempo and key.
  2. WET Demo: The same 8 samples, but with effects applied on some tracks. I chopped up the bass loop and pitch shifted it to create a variation for the second 4 bars.

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the most desirable of them all?

I have used Loopcloud for hours for this review, and it has been stable and reliable. I experienced one crash, when I clicked through a long sample, it suddenly crashed. More annoying and consistent, however, are loud clicks when using the mouse to "click jump" along a loop during auditioning. Yet this is an "edge case", and it didn't distract from the positive experience. But I hope Loopcloud fixes those glitches soon.

What I found more difficult to get along with is the interface. Oftentimes, I had to consult the manual to find a function. For the life of me, I could not find a way to save a pattern I created. This is a rare occurrence nowadays, with good UI/UX design commonplace in software development. Put simply, the interface is not intuitive to use. And I am saying this as someone who uses plugins for 20 years and tests them for a living.

For example, there are too many places where functions are hiding. I counted five:

  1. Top right menu: Add Samples, Account setting, Support
  2. Top left menu: Search bar. Underneath the filter menu
  3. Filter results menu: Another filter menu, to narrow down search results
  4. Side bar right: More functions including audio filters, suggestions from the Loopcloud store, history, properties editor, support sidebar
  5. Bottom menu (in the sample editor): export functions, pitch, pattern, edit menu (including pattern saving/loading), grid options, sample editing tools, FX editor, zoom
The Loopcloud 6 interface is far from intuitive. Just look at where all the options and menus are placed.

Wrapping up warm

Overall, I liked the software. Loopcloud is the best sample manager in my opinion, and I will now use this as the centre point to find samples in my 100,000+ sample library. So for now, I will have to get used to the overly complicated interface. I hope Loopcloud does not wait until Loopcloud 7 in a year or two to overhaul the interface, using more contemporary UI principles that brands such as FabFilter deploy. The intuitive interface of FabFilter Pro Q 3 was one of the reasons we rated it 5 stars.

So I hope Loopcloud overhauls UI soon, and we don't have to wait for a year or two when Loopcloud 7 is likely to be released. Musicians would be even quicker to find the perfect samples with Loopcloud.

The Test Rig

  • Version Tested: Loopcloud 6.2.6, using the Loopcloud Studio Subscription Plan (provided by Loopcloud)
  • Host DAW: Apple Logic 10.7.2
  • Computer Used: Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch, M1 2020, 16 GB RAM, 512 GB SSD, MacOS Big Sur 11.6

The Pros and Cons

Pros

  • The quickest way to find samples
  • Unlocks value of samples: the Loopcloud subscription looks better value simply as it unlocks the investment made in your sample library
  • Excellent automatic tagging: most accurate of all sample management software
  • Highly customizable
  • Full integration into DAW, including drag & drop, pitch and temp sync
  • Extensive multi-track sample editor and usable effects
  • Easy and comprehensive filtering and search
  • Full integration into the excellent Loopcloud sample library

Cons

  • Interface can be overwhelming and hard to use
  • Support beyond FAQs is hard to find
  • Loud clicks when scrubbing sample pack demos
  • More expensive per sample than other sample subscription services
  • Since version 6, you can no longer use the software for free without subscription

The Verdict

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Loopcloud is the best sample management software in my opinion. The auto-tagging is highly accurate and fast. Finding and using samples is quick, and you can now even build multi-track grooves and beats in the software. Loopcloud was one of the first to offer sample management software. And this shows. In my opinion, it is years ahead of others. Waves Audio has recently entered the market with free COSMOS. And the free ADSR Sounds sample manager has been around for a few years. With the competition hotting up, it will keep Loopcloud on their toes.

Yes, Loopcloud is no longer free - a change I lamented and warned existing users of Loopcloud 5 of, when announcing Loopcloud 6. Subscriptions start from $5.99 a month, and will give you access to the Loopmasters sample library with 100 credits a months plus free samples. I am not a fan of software subscriptions. But then I reflected on where its value lies. The high quality of Loopmasters library you will get credits for is good. But the real value comes from the Loopcloud software. This will unlock the value of the sample library you already have sitting on your hard drive, which you have already invested in. I discovered so many brilliant samples I had already bought with Loopcloud. That is when the subscription becomes good value in my view. If you are not convinced, Loopcloud offers a 30 days free trial, so you can explore the software and sample library for yourself.

In the end, time is money, and it is critical for any musician to be fast to stay in the "flow". That's why Loopcloud 6 is such a positive proposition - unlock the value of your massive sample library you invested in, and get on with making music.

Get this if you want to unlock the power of your sample libraries

Don't get this if you use few samples

The Price

Price

Loopcloud Starter Plan*: $7.99 a month. 100 points a month. 5 GB cloud storage. 2 machines. 10 free samples a day.

Loopcloud Studio Plan*: $11.99 a month. 300 points a month. 50 GB cloud storage. 2 machines. 25 free samples a day.

Loopcloud Professional Plan*: $21.99 a month. 600 points a month. 250 GB cloud storage. 4 machines. 50 free samples a day.

Prices checked on 
March 6, 2022

Discounts, Deals & Demos

Free Trial:

Deals:

  • Get the Loopcloud annual subscription from $39.99 per year (50% off) until 2 May 2022: Use Code SPRING50*.
Contact 
Loopcloud
 here:

The Alternatives

1. ADSR Sounds

Free

Taking a similar approach to Loopcloud with auto-tagging, ADSR Sounds is a good free alternative to subscription-only Loopcloud. I found the auto-tagging not as accurate as Loopcloud, and there are only basic sample editing functions available. There is no pitch shifting or time-stretching.

The benchmarking showed the following speed, from starting the import, to completed tagging & bpm/key detection:

  1. That Sound Gratis Free Library: 58 seconds
  2. Waves Audio COSMOS Factory Library*: 3 minutes 26 seconds
  3. Black Octopus Free Library: 1 minute 45 seconds

2. Sononym

$99 | €89

The only paid alternative to Loopcloud, with a focus on finding similar sounds based on machine learning. Sononym has no built-in sample editing features, however.

More concerning is that in all three tests, Sononym could not tag about 20% of samples at all. The software struggled particularly with loops, whereas one shot drum samples were mostly correctly recognised and automatically tagged.

The benchmarking showed the following speed, from starting the import, to completed tagging & bpm/key detection:

  1. That Sound Gratis Free Library: 30 seconds - 120 of 950 samples not tagged
  2. Waves Audio COSMOS Factory Library*: 3 minutes - 800 samples of 2,500 not tagged
  3. Black Octopus Free Library: 1 minute 7 seconds - 320 of 1,200 samples not tagged

3. Waves Audio COSMOS*

Free

Waves Audio is a long established player in the plugin market, but a newcomer to sample manager software. The company emphasises the application of AI to automatically identify sounds. I found Waves Audio COSMOS' classifications less accurate than Loopcloud, but I am looking forward to seeing how Waves Audio can improve the fresh release over time.

The benchmarking showed the following speed, from starting the import, to completed tagging & bpm/key detection:

  1. That Sound Gratis Free Library: 1 minute 50 seconds
  2. Waves Audio COSMOS Factory Library*: 6 minutes 58 seconds
  3. Black Octopus Free Library: 3 minutes 20 seconds

The Users

Professional DJs, artists, and musicians who use Loopcloud, include:

  • MJ Cole
  • Friction

Source: Loopcloud

The Other Reviews

Are you keen to know what others say about 
Loopcloud
 ?

MusicTech

9/10 Choice Award

11 August 2021

"Loopcloud is both easy to use and creatively engaging, making it a must-try for anyone who uses samples of any kind in their music."

HomeStudioToday

5/5 Rating

"After digging through their enormous library and downloading my first day’s worth of samples, I was totally hooked. Frankly, I didn’t want to like Loopcloud when I first heard about it. [...] I find Loopcloud to be a great jumping-off point for songwriting or just jamming, and have really enjoyed building a sample library that is mine to keep forever even if I canceled my subscription. Overall, I give Loopcloud a solid 5 stars and a glowing recommendation."

Produce Like A Pro

6 August 2021

"With lots of competition these days, Loopcloud is staying one step ahead. More than just a sample library, this software is actually like a mini DAW itself. Choose a sound, let the AI suggest complementary sounds, and then chop, flip, and edit away to create the perfect loop or drum pattern—all before you leave the Loopcloud app!"

Get in-depth reviews, fresh news, fun tutorials, top deals, and the latest sales to your inbox. When you sign up, you will be sent "Ray 1", a free 130 MB sample pack from musicmanta, with over 60 loops and one shots (previously published by Noiiz).

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