Is there a plugin for improvising with looped samples live in Cantabile?


I have a particular use case for performing improvised stuff, live with sample loops. I have zero experience with DAWs or solutions for live sample looping - only with classic DAWs like Cubase and Reaper (no FL studio and such). (OK I do use e.g. drum samples in Reaper - but no way I can use reaper for live performance). Perhaps my question is trivial - I simply have no idea.

Here’s my use case:

  • I have bits and pieces of a performance recorded by chord (full arrangements, but excluding time-related effects like master reverb and delay)
  • for (silly) sake of argument: say a 4 chord verse (C Dm Em F) and a 4 chord chorus (G G7 Am Am7)
  • so I have 8 samples, each 1 measure long (C, Dm, Em, F, G,G7, Am Am7) and all loopable
  • I have several different arrangements of each verse and chorus. So I have e.g. 4 versions of the C chord sample, 4 of the Dm chord sample etc.
  • I will want to trigger those samples using a key or a drum pad on a keyboard. I want them to loop (latch) until I pick a different sample.
  • AND I want to be able to quantize the transition from one sample to another by measure, beat, 1/8 note or whatever. So that no matter what I do, the whole performance stays in tempo
  • Bonus points if I can kick off multiple samples at the same time (say a drum loop and a bass loop, that go together) (and quantized the same way of course)
  • And I do not know in which order I am going to play the chords. I may decide on the fly to change the chord progression (be it limited to the chords for which I have samples) And I certainly have no idea how many verses and choruses (chorii?) I will kick off, let alone in what order. Or in which arrangement.
  • I want to set all that up in a VST that I load in Cantabile.
  • I don’t care how this is controlled (I have drum pads but am also happy to kick all of this off with dedicated keys on my keyboard) I’m thinking Midi learn, Cantabile filters and bindings will allow for just about anything.

Does a plugin that let me do that exist? If not a plugin, is there performance software that lets me do this? Any ideas? I think Geist2 would do (have done) most of that. I used to play with it but it was horribly buggy (and way too complex for my needs) and although they stil lsell it it seems development stopped 4 years ago… I’m guessing NI Maschine does similar things - but you need the Maschine hardware along with it (right?)

Thoughts? Any reaction would be welcome!



TBH I didn’t read all of the above (sorry!), but…

It is unlikely you will find one plug-in that works in exactly the way you want, but with Cantabile to help you will be able to build your ideal rig using plug-ins and Cantabile’s amazing flexibility.

I have a very bespoke looping system, based around Mellotron emulations and Enso looper. Anything it can’t do is just because I haven’t set Cantabile up to do it yet.

As with everything Cantabile-related… the answer is probably ‘Yes’ - you just have to ask the right question of it.

Hi Tom

You might want to try Reason tools for this, through the ReasonRack VST in Cantabile. In the standard version e.g. Dr.Rex etc do some of this. In the advanced version you have a couple of additional ‘Players’ that may be helpful as well. I sometimes mess around with them, and they are big fun. I do not use them live, but I think they can do what you describe, and you can use your own samples as well.

Likely, Ableton can do it as well, but I do not have experience with it.

Geist probably also, but as you say, I found that complicated too and gave up trying…

Have fun trying

Hm… if it doesn’t exist I’ll have to build it myself. I had similar use cases for midi loops, could not find what I wanted and did build the stuff myself. Here’s a link in case anyone is interested - open source and free.

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Tx Ad. I suspect Ableton can do this - but I doubt Ableton runs as a plugin in Cantabile. Ditto for Maschine. I’ll check out Reason, tx for the tip!

May be Meldas MSuperLooper is capable for some of the points you mentioned.

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Hey Ad, I did check out Reason … lots of stuff inthere but I can’t seem to find what i need there. Do you have a specific Reason plugin in mind please?

I’m having a look at SuperLooper right now — certainly seems interesting. I’ll see if I can find some videos on it and perhaps try the trial version. Thx for the hint!

I’ve also used Melda SuperLooper, and some of my feedback made it into later versions, but it’s still not as ‘immediate’ as I would like. It’s very flexible, though.

Though I don’t use loops I tried MSuperLooper out because I thougt it could be useful for improvising or as a scetching tool but at the moment I’m not very excited.

Tom, I think the most useful modules to you are OctoRex and NurseRex (inside Kong).
Within Cantabile you would open the Reason Rack, and inside the Reason Rack you open those modules. These modules above are all in the basic version of Reason.

I have additional ‘ReFills’ (the Soul and Disco school ones) that contain nice phrases in those genres that are basically REX samples to trigger with OctoRex and Kong. But these cost in addition.

Hello Tom,

It depends if you intend to play with a fixed tempo, or if you want to loop yourself and play your samples loops synced on it.

If you just want to play prerecorded loops, ableton (or bitwig) is a obvious solution : in the launch parameter of your clip, you define the way your samples will start (1/8, 1/4, free, etc). You can launch individual clip with a MIDI note, and launch a set of clips (scenes) with another MIDI note.

If you want to improvise, loop yourself, and sync your samples to your improvisation, it’s another story.
Ableton has a looper module included. You can control it with a footpedal, start ableton from it and then launch clips ans scenes. But I never found the process realy reliable : the looper is an effect on a track, and it’s more a trick than a real ableton function.
Second solution is to use a looper with a MIDIclock output and sync any sample player (ableton, reason, or whatever) on it. The problem with MIDIclock is that if any problem occurs, the player will shift from the looper : MIDIclock sends a MIDI event 24 times per beat (ticks), so if one tick is missing, the shift is 1/24 beat (and is unplayable). Not very reliable too.

I’ve been playing this way (including stage) for more than 10 years, so I developped a Max Patch to manage this kind of situation : it is a looper dedicated to create a MIDIclock, resync MIDI slaves in case of trouble, and launch MIDI notes to trigger clips in ableton. You can have a look here ( ) to see playing situations, and here ( ) to get Max patch or executable if you want to get it. It’s a freeware, and I can give you some help if you want to try it.

I use cantabile to run audio and MIDI patch, and record.

Best regards,


Thx for the reaction! Very interesting! My use case is prerecorded loops, fix tempo. Can you run Ableton from within Cantabile? I didn’t know that was possible?

You cannot run Ableton from within Cantabile, but you can run it besides. Ableton and Cantabile will share the same ASIO driver, you can set Ableton transport and tempo to be slaved to Cantabile MIDI transport thru virtual MIDI connection (like loopbe, from, and set ableton clips and scenes to be launched via MIDI notes sent by Cantabile (or whatever you want).
I think bitwig has the same abilities (but i don’t own it, so i’m not sure).

New hardware has appeared that does this standalone, but I’m not a specialist…
So there are many solutions for you.

Best regards,


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Moreover, if you’re audio interface has many outputs, you can set a loopback to exchange audio between Cantabile and Ableton (just in case). Just watch your loudness when you first try…

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i regularly do most of things that u want to do. I just dont use cantabile for it. i use ableton live & u can configure it to work with loops however u want. from experience, i can say that its not as crash-proof as cantabile. Live still does crash once in a while, but far better than using reaper or (shudder) FL studio. for some reason, FL crashes very quickly with audio loops , LIVE is much more stable & can be 80%relied on. so far, i have had only 2 crashes of cantabile in 3 years of using it. i can see u are thinking of routing audio between live & cantabile. probably an unnecessary convoluted approach. 2 softwares running simultaneously will just crash each other.

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I have just tried Loop Recorder and it does the biz. I’ve tried all the previous suggestions like Regen, Gloop, Mobius Arturia etc. and this one works for what I’m doing which is live Guitar audio with effects ( Helix Native, Guitar Rig or Amplitube) together with Midi Fishman Tripleplay and drum sequencer.