nanoloop 1.7 manual

Change Log


- Stable sync during file access and soft pulse
- Stable sync with 2.7


- Halfspeed sync option for Korg Volca compatibility
(nanoloop as master only, "e" = MIDI/24, "a" = 1/16, "c" = 1/8 clock)


- Analog sync scheme ("c" = 1/16 clock)


Major update with many new functions, see what's new in 1.7.

Functions that are new or have changed since 1.6 are marked red.
The latest update ROM can be found at the update page.


Nanoloop is a Stepsequencer which means that a pattern of 16 1/16 notes is played repeatedly you can edit these notes in various respects like volume, pitch etc. There are four channels, playing simultaneously. Each channel's patterns can be saved to file slots in flash memory and are then available for new combinations. Finally, you can arrange saved patterns to a song structure.
There are 3 sequencer functions that expand the 16-step grid within a single pattern:

- Step pause plays steps only every 2nd or 4th loop.
- 1/x tempo plays a channel at a fraction of the global tempo.
- Pattern length may vary from 1-16.


On startup, nanoloop one shows the boot logo:

To start nanoloop, press START. Other functions are available when using the USB-MIDI-adaptor.

After a few 100 save operations, flash memory is re-organised on startup. This takes a few seconds and may be accomplished by screen flicker.

The Sequencer

The 16-step pattern is shown as a matrix of 4 x 4 squares with the currently playing step marked in slightly darker color.

The current channel is displayed in the upper left corner, the current edit parameter in the upper right corner. Within this matrix, the cursor can be moved around with the d-pad. Use the keys to set and edit notes:

Bplace note
Acut / paste note
B + ▲/▼/◄/►edit note
STARTchange mode
SELECTcall menu 1

On startup, the edit parameter is pitch and B + ▲/▼ changes pitch semitone-wise while B + ◄/► changes the octave. To select a different channel or parameter, call menu 1 with SELECT.

Menu 1

In menu 1 you can select channel and edit parameter. Furthermore, all notes in the sequencer can be edited simultaneously.

◄/►select parameter
▲/▼select channel
Breturn to sequencer
A + ▲/▼/◄/►/STARTedit all notes at once
STARTmute channel
A + SELECTsolo channel
A + B + ▲randomise paramter
A + B + ▼place notes randomly
SELECTcall menu 2


There are three tonal channels and one for noise:

Rrectangular wave 1
Lrectangular wave 2
Scustom wave

The rectangular waves have a variable pulse width of 4 steps, with the 4th sounding identical to the 2nd. The custom wave forms are defined in the wave form editor (sine by default). The Game Boy's noise generator is a LFSR (linear feedback shift register) with a 16-bit mode and a more tonal 8-bit mode.
R,L and N have a volume/envelope resolution of 15 steps while S has only 3 steps.

Edit Parameters

The following parameters are available for editing in the sequencer:

Volume / Envelope

B + ▲/▼initial volume
B + ◄/►length
STARTenvelope mode

There are 3 envelope modes.

Decay mode (default): Volume decreases to zero.
Attack mode: Volume increases to maximum, tone plays endlessly.
Gate mode: A very short note with constant volume.

The S channel has no attack mode and only 3 volume levels.

On R,L and N, envelopes have 15 volume steps, except for the shortest decay, which has a resolution of only 7 steps.


B + ▲/▼semitone
B + ◄/►octave
A + ▲/▼select arpeggio table (0 = no arpeggio)
A + ◄/►arpeggio tempo
START(if arpeggio is on) arpeggio table editor

In arpeggio mode, octave (lower dot) and arpeggio tempo (upper dot) are only shown for the selected step.


In the noise channel, B + ▲/▼ controls the LFSR frequency. B + ◄/► sets it to 16- or 8-bit mode.

Arpeggio Tables

In the arpeggio table editor, you can edit the tables as follows:

B + ▲/▼value
B + ◄/►length (1-8)
STARTreturn to sequencer

The table is played as loop. Values are in semitones and added to the base note. Value F mutes sound, but only in the first loop.
To transpose, you simply change the base note with B+▲/▼.

Like the wave forms, tables are global for the entire bank. Tables are saved each time a pattern is saved.

Soft Pulse

When a note on R is tuned to the highest octave, a low frequency puse wave is generated from ultrasound. At the default tick frequency, the note C equals the lowest octave C. Other values do not play as the corresponding notes, instead frequencies are fractions of the tick frequency. So, like on the noise channel, higher note values result in lower frequencies.

This only works on the original Game Boy models. On GBA, it produces noise instead.

The ultrasound frquency is 131,072 Hz and may damage speakers and other musical equipment.

Pitch Bend / LFO (R,L,S)

B + ▲/▼amplitude
B + ◄/►length / frequency
STARTtoggle envelope / LFO

"slur" and fine tune have been removed.

Wave Form (R,L,S)

B + ▲/▼pulse width (R,L) / wave / table (S)
B + ◄/►table tempo (0 = no table) (S)
STARTstart table editor (S)

Wave Tables (S only)

B + ◄/► activates wave tables and sets the tempo. Table mode is indicated by a dot above the number:

The number then refers to the table number, not the wave form.

The wave table editor works the same as the arpeggio table editor. Wave table values are absolute though and not added to a base value.


To get a hardsync effect (known as "wave retrigger" in nanoloop 1.3), use a wave table of length 1 and with fast tempo (3 leftmost positions) and combine that with pitch envelope / LFO.

"FM" has been removed. Fast arpeggio can yield similar effects.

Panning / Delay / Step Pause / Pattern Length

B + ▲/▼delay
B + ◄/►panning
A + ▲/▼step pause
STARTpattern length

Step Pause

With step pause, a note is played only every 2nd or 4th pattern. It is indicated by gaps in the step background square.

Apply a delay of about 3-5 to every second step for a swing factor.

Pattern Length

With START, you set the curent step as end point of the pattern. When setting length back to 16 (the lower rightmost step), the channel will run in sync with the others. Otherwise, patterns of the same length will no run in sync automatically. To get them in sync, save them, load empty patterns and load them again.
Song playback is tied to a global 16-step pattern.

Menu 2

Menu 2 provides links to sub-menus and some functions that affect the entire channel. SELECT returns to Menu 1.

Bfile menu
Bsong editor
B + ◄/►shift pattern
STARTcopy pattern
A+Bpaste pattern
Bwave editor
B + ◄/►tempo
A + ◄/►tick frequency
B + ▲/▼1/x tempo for channel
A+Bslave mode
B+SELECT (in slave mode)toggle sync scheme:
e = MIDI
a = analog
c = analog halfspeed

Tempo / Sync

Tempo ranges from 30 to 1920 BPM. At very high tempo, the interface may react slowly or even freeze and song playback may not work poperly (patterns played twice or not start with first step).

To sync two nanoloops, press A+B on both, press A+B again on both and then start the master with START. Sync is stable up to about 256 BPM.

To sync nanoloop as slave to an analog clock with 1/16 (one clock per step), press B+SELECT (indicated by a "a" below the tempo value) in slave mode.

To sync analog gear with nanoloop as master, set nanoloop as slave and select "a" or "c" with B+SELECT, set the analog device to slave and start nanoloop with START.

Syncing Korg Volcas

Other than monotribe and other devices with a straight 1/16 clock, the Volcas use a 1/4 sync scheme where clock is sent / received only every second step. Nanoloop therefore runs at half speed when synced as slave. For syncing volcas as master, set nanoloop to halfspeed ("c") and start nanoloop with START.

For wire connections, see sync options.

File Menu

In the file menu, patterns can be saved to file slots in flash memory for persistent storage in 8 banks. In each bank there is a row of 15 slots for each channel.
Slot 0 is not writeable but can be used to load an empty pattern. SELECT returns to menu 1.

In the lower row, one of 8 banks can be selected. When switching to an other bank, the bank's wave forms are loaded which may result in sudden sound changes.

STARTSwitch between file slot and bank selection
SELECTReturn to menu 1

File Slots

▲/▼Select channel
◄/►Select file slot
B + ▼Save current channel's pattern to file slot
B + ▲Load pattern from file slot for current channel
A + ▲Load all patterns from column
A + ◄/►Load patterns from previous/next column
B + ►Load pattern on next beat
B + ◄Load pattern with tempo
A + B + ▼Delete pattern in file slot

Bank Selection, File Exchange

◄/►Select bank
A + BFile transfer mode
A + B + ▲Send bank
A + B + ▼Receive bank

File transfer procedure:

- Set both units to transfer mode with A+B.
- Press A + B + ▼ on receiving unit.
- Press A + B + ▲ on sending unit.
- Wait till sending unit shows a in the upper left.
- Press SELECT on the receiving unit.
- Press SELECT on sending unit.

Song Editor

The current bank's saved patterns can be arranged to a song. The song structure is organized in 15 pages, if you move the cursor to the far right or left, the next / last page is displayed.

B + ▲/▼select pattern
B + ►copy current value to next step
A + ▲load patterns at cursor position
A + ◄/►Load patterns from previous/next column
A + Bselect /deselect current channel for tempo
STARTstart / stop song playback
SELECTreturn to menu 2
B + STARTloop start point
A + STARTloop end point

Song Loop

When a grey bar is shown below the song, playback will loop in this region. To disable the loop, place the end before the start point.

Saving the Song

When leaving the song editor, song playback is stopped and the song is saved. This takes 1-2 seconds while the sequencer is visible again. Memory access is indicated by a grey square in the upper left. Do not turn the Game Boy off during memory access. Otherwise the saving process may not be completed, resulting in song-data partially appearing as F.

Song Tempo

Each time a pattern is saved to a file slot, the current tempo is saved, too. When a channel is set for tempo, the saved tempo values are applied during song playback.

The 1/x tempo sequencer starts at the beginning of the song. Patterns with 1/x tempo are in sync with this global sequencer and do not re-start when they are loaded. Therefore, patterns with 1/2 tempo start at even positions in the song only. If such a pattern is placed at an odd position, it will start in the middle.

Wave Editor

There are 16 wave forms per bank which can be assigned to notes or a table in the S-channel.
You can draw the wave form directly or mix harmonic sine waves to the wave. The amount mixed is increased each time.

B + ▲/▼/◄/►draw wave form
◄/►select sample
A + ◄/►select wave
▲/▼select harmonic
A + ▲mix selected harmonic to wave
SELECTreturn to menu 1

The wave set is saved automatically when leaving the editor.

(c) 1998-2014 Oliver Wittchow

"Game Boy" and "Game Boy Advance" are registered trade marks of Nintendo

Nintendo has not licensed, endorsed or approved of nanoloop.