Simply put, Stopper FX is Launchpad for iOS’s answer to the Swiss Army Knife. The app ships with 2 Stopper FX presets included, a handy low-pass filter sweep (down to 0Hz and back), and a vinyl-style spin-down and release. These are both quite handy utilities in their own right, but they really are (terrible pun alert) just scratching the surface…
If you choose to unlock the Stopper FX in the in-app store, you may be pleasantly surprised by how versatile a effect it actually is. It features 4 basic modes: low-pass and hi-pass filter, vinyl, and volume. All 4 modes have variable start and stop times, ranging from instantaneous to four bars long.
As with other FX in Launchpad for iOS, multiple Stopper FX may be used simultaneously across different channels, with different modes being employed on each instance if desired. Let’s open it up and have a look…
If Hip-hop is your thing (or Techno for that matter), then this will definitely interest you. Using Vinyl mode, you can perform some pretty convincing scratch manoeuvres using Stopper FX. Great fun can be had with up 2 or 3 Stopper FX set to vinyl mode, with differing start/stop times. For Hip-hop trickery, try assigning these FX to only the mids (usually found on channels 4-7) so you still have beats to ‘scratch’ against.
For extra authentic turntablism, try combining your scratch effects with a Gater or two, and you can emulate fader manipulation at the same time. You’ll sound like Cut Chemist (or Jeff Mills) in no time.
A lot of electronic dance music these days features sidechain compression (otherwise known as 'pumping’). Maybe not all of your loops do. Well, now they can. Simply assign a Stopper to one of your FX slots and use the 'Sidechain’ preset (from the list on the right of the Edit FX screen) which is a volume Stopper with a 1-beat start and stop time. Then de-select the first 2 or 3 channels (depending on whether or not you want to 'pump’ the bassline too). Then tap along in time with the beat for on-demand pumpy goodness.
Using combinations of Filter Stopper FX you can transition between loops in novel and interesting ways. For example: Open Edit FX and create 2 Stopper FX, one with the 'Slow Lows’ preset, and an adjacent one set to 'Slow Highs’. Have both apply only to the first 3 channels. Close Edit FX and set a whole row of loops going by swiping across the screen.
If you then hold down the Lo-pass stopper for 4 bars, then briefly tap the Hi-pass Stopper, something interesting will occur. The beats and bass will filter down to nothing, and then sweep back in from the top down 4 bars later as the hi-pass filter takes over. At the point that the transition occurs, you have an opportunity to discreetly change the beats and bassline and propel the mix forward in a really cool way. It works just as effectively going with the high-pass Stopper first, of course.
Sometimes during a live performance you may wish to simply stop some loops in the middle of a bar, rather than on the first beat. All of stoppers modes can be utilised in this way, from quickly 'spinning back’ the beats using the short-duration Vinyl mode, to instantly muting selected channels with volume mode at the shortest setting. Use a delay or filter at the same time can to spice up the mix still further.
As we mentioned before, multiple Stopper FX can be used at once, if they are assigned to non-conflicting channels. It is good practice to align your Stopper FX with the Launchpad grid in a way that is intuitive to you.
You may, for example, wish to place a spin-back Vinyl Stopper FX underneath the first channel to kill the beats, and 2 or 3 scratch stoppers of differing lengths underneath the mids (as described above) as part of a Hip-hop session. You could place an instant volume Stopper FX underneath each channel to make a kill-switch for that channel. You could modify your 'kill-switches’ so that they instantly mute any number of loops of your choosing, but then take a bar to 'spin’ back up again by putting them in vinyl or filter mode, and giving the release a bit of time.
Stopper FX in Launchapd for iOS is a remarkably handy tool. Other than getting stones out of horses hooves*, the only real limit is your imagination! * unless you can get a groove going that’s so irresistible, the horse dances sufficiently hard to dislodge the stone.