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Equipment: Busking with Loopy on a Budget

Loopy user and forum member fonyo recently wrote an article on the Loopy forum about busking with low-budget equipment and Loopy. There was some great information in the article, so I’ve reproduced it here with some editorial modifications.

I’ve been planning for a long time to do some busking. I’ve always been amazed by street musicians, and can watch them for hours. That’s why I’ve put together some thoughts on buying portable equipment.

In summary: For just a fraction more money than that saved by choosing Loopy instead of a single Boss RC-300 Loop Station, you can pick up a complete, high-quality busking setup, perfect for going out into the street and performing for the public.

Boss RC-300 vs Loopy

First, let me compare the new Boss RC-300 Loop Station with Loopy, not counting the iPhone’s/iPad’s price (because we love it and would buy it anyway!). I chose the RC-300 as it gives you the closest number of individual loop tracks you can record/overdub

ItemCostNumber of tracks
Boss RC-300£400 +3 stereo
Loopy£26 stereo
Loopy HD£56, 9 or 12 stereo

My point is this: let’s forget the RC-300 and save that 400 quid for other stuff to buy so we can go out and play!

Equipment list

Here’s my equipment list. I tried to find a balance between price and quality, while also keeping in mind portability.

ItemCost
Loopy£2 / £5 HD
iRig G&I interface ~£25
iRig MIDI ~£50
iKlip MINI ~£25
MOTU ZBOX ~£32
BEHRINGER FCB1010 ~£95
BEHRINGER XENYX 1002 B ~£74
PylePro PWMA series ~£100-200

Let’s see the details of each. Loopy is obvious, it’s the “core” in our iDevice and the iKlip is holding it (e.g. on a mic stand).

iRig guitar & instrument interface is transferring the sound to the iDevice.

iRig MIDI to control Loopy through MIDI (I know it’s not capable of doing this yet but soon it will be!) and we connect a nice MIDI foot switch (cheap and smart) the Behringer FCB1010. This is the only thing which needs a power supply but I’m listing it as I would go for it anyway. I’m sure now that iRig MIDI and LINE6 Mobilizer II are released we will soon find many battery-operated or maybe even passive foot-switches for iDevices through MIDI.

I’m sorry to disappoint you, but an electric condenser mic like the iRig iMic just won’t give you a nice sound, and as the tests and reviews are showing it’s just not suited for professional use such as live quality street busking.

That’s why I came up with an idea of a small but powerful battery-operated mixer with enough inputs to handle your better quality microphones. You can also plug in your instruments or any device with line out, such as an iPod as a music source.

The mixer device is the Behringer XENYX 1002B which runs on two (!) 9VDC batteries. The main output of the mixer (your gig) goes into the iRig’s TRS input. As a nice optional hardware for electric guitars with pickups, I recommend the MOTU ZBOX. It’s a miracle for guitar sound, and it’s passive so it doesn’t require any current. The Behringer 1002B has 5mic-line input OR 2mic-line/6stereo input with 3bandEQ, 2aux etc.

Finally, the Public Address (PA). I’ve found real luggage-like battery powered speakers made by PylePro and those are just wicked! Low-budget but nice stuff. They have wheels and handle for easy relocating, EQ, and many other cool things built-in. They give you enough power to blow away your own head with guitar riffs, beatbox, singing, so you can just use Loopy to amaze your audience! The iRig’s output goes in the PylePro’s input, and there we are.

You do need to buy a mic, but this way nearly anything will sound better than that electric condenser.

Summary

For the money you avoided spending on a Boss RC-300 LS for £400 (vs. Loopy 2 HD for £5), you can pick up nearly all this equipment — the sum is between 400-550 depending on where and what you buy or not. Then, you’re good to go and show some real busking to the public and start a career like our Uncle Dub Fx!

You can discuss fonyo’s research at the Loopy forum.

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