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Boss RC 3 Loop Station Pedal Review

As far as loop pedals move, we can confidently state Boss stands out as one of the top manufacturers of these devices, and their RC-3 Loop Station model occurs to be a device which hits the sweet spot between high quality and very affordable pricing, in addition to innovative functions and ease of use. This is our favorite looper pedal on this list.

This classic might be the most well-known and popular loop pedals.

Unlike its larger counterpart, this pedal only offers one loop monitor. This means there are 1 input and one footswitch. You still secure numerous loops and overdubs. While it’s a smaller, easier pedal compared to a lot of the powerhouses on the list, it has plenty of attributes.

First of all, it can quantize your loops for superior synchronization. In addition, there’s an auto-start function which starts recording once the device picks up a signal. This makes timing even easier, for beginners in particular, as you don’t need to measure on the switch within a millisecond of their very first note to prevent looping from sync. You can concentrate more on playing when you do not have to worry so much about perfect time.

If that’s not enough to earn aiming simpler, you can also use one of the many backing monitors the pedal can perform with. If the ones built into the apparatus do not tickle your fancy, there is a 3.5 mm jack so you can plug your personal computer or smart device into the pedal and perform anything you want. This can be very fun to experiment with, looping a variety of tunes and audio tracks.

The pedal is easy to understand, with lights that allow you to know what’s going on. There’s 1 knob for the general quantity and two buttons for selecting up and down. Its typical Boss design makes it both portable and sturdy, taking up little space in your pedalboard considering how much you get out of it.

Pros:

  • Great build quality
  • Easy to use
  • Quantize and auto-start for better sync
  • Backing tracks included
  • 3 hours of recording, 99 memory slots, stereo I/O, and a compact body.

Cons:

  • No reverse or half-time looping
  •  16 bit recording.

Coming using a compact layout and touch Boss sturdy metal casing, this item sums up the requirements of the massive majority of lower users on the market. We took it outside for a little spin, you can find our conclusions in the full review below.

Features
As mentioned, we are looking at classic Boss casing using a hot red finish. The pedal is powerful, most definitely roadworthy, and highly dependable even in the long run. It operates a stereo device with two inputs and a set of outputs, allowing the participant to plug in a separate microphone and insert a whole other instrument to the loop, as well as operating with stereo heaters.

Also included in this combination is a rhythm guide with real drum sounds, as well as a USB 2.0 interface for connecting to a PC and import or export .WAV-quality sound.

Another advanced feature most certainly worth mentioning is tap speed — an alternative to manually place the loop’s tempo by tapping it through the footswitch. At length, a five-year Boss guarantee can be included in the purchase price.

Controls
So far as controls go, we like the way the manufacturer managed to spread the footswitch-related works around despite using just one footswitch (the massive thing in the front). So the big button can be used for beginning the recording (one tap) and stopping it (two taps). To allocate a memory slot to a loop listed, the player is given two buttons to select among the 99 accessible spaces.

There is also another button for locking the tune to the desired memory slot, which also operates as delete button if pressed more. At length, the Output knob is there to determine the level of this effect’s sound presence in the mixture. Also included in the mixture is a special input for connecting an extra footswitch to separate the memory or stop shift feature.

Performance
If it comes to sound quality of loopers, a significant section is that the listed part sounds natural, organic rather than too plastic. The RC-3 meets those demands with a clear sonic punch and simple to use controls.

The recorded 3-hour recording period is way more than most players need through a show and more than sufficient for preserving an essential record of loops.

3 Hours of Stereo Recording\

First of the improvements across the RC-2 Loop Station is that the RC-3 Loop Station gives musicians up to 3 hours of stereo recording period, instead of the RC-2, which only permitted up to 16 minutes of mono recording. That is a heck of an improvement! You can now load hours of your favorite backing tracks into 99 different slots. This allows you to jam to your heart’s content without getting bored and stops you from having to stop and load fresh jam tracks over and over again — only keep the creativity flowing. By the way, the Boss RC-3 is USB 2.0 compatible for fast loading.

Pre-Set Drum Tracks
One disadvantage to the Boss RC-3 Loop Station is that it only provides 10 drum tracks. If you’re the kind of musician who wants a wide array of drum beats for spontaneous inspiration, then this might not be the pedal for you. This pedal is better suited to artists who wish to play along with jam tracks. Bear in mind that you can load pre-recorded jam tracks with your own drum beats so, with a little effort, the 10 preset drum tracks won’t necessarily keep you from getting the most out of the little pedal. The ten preset rhythms are in an assortment of styles, including Rock, Pop, Funk, Shuffle, R&B, and Latin.

Inputs and Outputs
Guitarists who want to integrate external stereo effects devices will be excited about the real stereo I/O. This is a big improvement over the RC-2 Loop Station, and let’s Boss compete with Digitech’s JamMan Stereo. Bear in mind that this pedal does add a bit of noise, so if you are a real audio purist, you may want to spend a little more cash for a cleaner overall sound. If you are just practicing at home, a small noise is not the worst thing, and it is not really that noticeable.

Boss RC-3 Loop Station Control Panel

When using the RC-3 Loop Station for recording, there are two options. You can choose the Auto Recording feature, which starts the recording the moment you start playing your guitar, or the moment you begin a connected audio player like an external drum machine or CD player. Alternatively, Count-In mode gives you one-bar of rhythm before recording begins. Like many looper pedals, you can Undo/Redo as you go.

A dedicated knob lets you adjust the volume of the rhythm, and you may set the speed incrementally or via tap tempo. You may also define the time signature. When you save a phrase, the rhythm type and time signature will also be saved. In addition to recording your bass or guitar performances and turning them into loops that are playable, you can also record other external stereo sound sources via the RC-3’s AUX IN. For those who have an external drum machine, you can make new loops on the fly, or grab loops out of your MP3 tracks and start jamming them over.

Beware that, as with the Boss RC-30 Loop Station, there is a noticeable 1/4 second difference when switching between phrases (UPDATE: This issue was fixed by Boss by a firmware update). Although this may not bother most bedroom musicians, it’s certainly not suited for studio recording. Paradoxically, this was not a problem with Boss’s elderly RC-2 Loop Station and RC-20XL Loop Station. The Boss RC-300 Loop Station did not appear to develop this issue, but is significantly larger and more expensive than the RC-3.

The RC-3 Loop Station is Boss’s most compact looper from the RC-3x series, which also includes the larger RC-30 Loop Station as well as the massive RC-300 Loop Station. All in all, the Boss RC-3 Loop Station improves Boss’s compact looping pedal technology by leaps and bounds, and is a good option to compete with Digitech’s rival compact pedal, the JamMan Solo.

 

Value/Conclusion
For the recorded cost, the RC-3 provides a killer sonic strike. It takes the crucial looper role of recording and looping tracks and then infuses it with the largest advanced functions like stereo inputs, internal memory, on-board drums, and much more. This pedal covers the requirements of an absolute majority of gamers out there, and so long as you’re in need of a loop pedal you simply cannot regret making this purchase.


 

Questions and Answers

 

What is the main function of the BOSS RC-3?
The main use of the RC-3 is looping. It includes some looping features, but does not branch into other functionality (such as adding FX). It is supposed to be highly simplified.

Can I record audio, continuously play a loop of that recording, and then layer additional tracks over the loop/phrase with the BOSS RC-3?
Yes, the RC-3 has fundamental looper functionality with unlimited overdub, controlled via footswitch. The process is to begin recording, then < press pedal> to change to overdub mode, then every time you press on the pedal it will alternate between playback and overdub modes. You can continue to add to stop the playback.

How long can I record with the BOSS RC-3?
The RC-3 can capture 3 hours. You can also back up files via USB on your PC to free up memory. Also, the minimal record time is 1.5 seconds.

How many memory locations (slots) are contained in the BOSS RC-3?
The RC-3 has 99 slots.

Using the BOSS RC-3, can I learn by having a tool teacher play something and then slow it down and work on fitting the notes and gradually speeding up?
Yes, the RC-3 has tempo control, where you can slow down or speed up the music and it is a good way to learn a new song.

Can I practice soloing with the BOSS RC-3?
Yes, you can lay down your own rhythm tracks and then play over the top of these, or you may use among the 10 pre-loaded presentation tracks. Or you could use the 1/8″ Aux Input to play a tune through the RC-30 and then practice soloing over that.

Can I use the BOSS RC-3 to catch quick tune ideas to review later?Yes, this is a fantastic device for that and can store up to 3 hrs of your music or basically unlimited if you back up your tracks to your PC via USB.

Can I switch to another loop/slot while performing with the BOSS RC-3?
Yes you can, and you can accomplish this hands-free only in the event you get an optional footswitch (FS-6 or two FS-5U’s).

Can I perform loop-to-loop queuing with the BOSS RC-3?
Yes, the RC-3 has this feature, but is only practical when using the optional footswitch (FS-6 or 2 FS-5U’s). Loop-to-loop queuing is when you’re playing a current loop/slot and you change to the next loop/slot without quitting the current. Then, once the current loop finishes a playing cycle it automatically switches to the loop you have selected.

Can I switch back to the previous loop while doing with the BOSS RC-3?
This function is not really practical in a live setting with the RC-3. If you want to switch to another memory location, you’ll need to save the loop before shifting or you’ll lose it. This is done by pressing the”Compose” button twice by hand. However, you can not save unless the playback is stopped. So, you would require a part of your song that isn’t on the looper. Also, be aware that there is a small delay that occurs when switching from one slot to another.

With the BOSS RC-3, can I record and play different parts of a song (verse, chorus, bridge) all during a live performance whilst not using my hands (pedals and footswitches only)?
Theoretically you could but you would have to save any loop if you wanted to come back to it later in the song, which you can not do while it is playing. Additionally, you must deal with the delay when switching from loop to loop. It’s not a great option for that type of performance.

Can I go from recording straight into overdub with the BOSS RC-3?
Yes, you can go directly into overdub with the RC-3. The default progression of the single pedal when you press it multiple times is Record à Overdub à Playback.

Can I undo/redo the last overdub to change the song or eliminate a recording mistake with the BOSS RC-3?
With the RC-3, you have the ability to undo the previous overdub and also redo the last undo.

Can I place previous layers to go quieter or fade out while overdubbing new layers with the BOSS RC-3?
This function is called”Decay” by Boomerang,”Recorder Overdub Level” by Line 6,”Loop Aging” by Pigtronix, and”Feedback Decay” by others. It’s used to gradually or quickly transition a song without stopping or switching your ongoing loop. However, it’s not available on the RC-3.

Can I adjust the volume or effects of person overdubs with the BOSS RC-3?
You will find two inputs which may be recorded together with the RC-3 — the Aux 1/8″ input and the stereo 1/4″ input pair. However, they don’t have individual volume control knobs.

Can I record individual overdubs/layers as individual WAV files with the BOSS RC-3 to then work with in a DAW?
With the RC-3, we’re not aware of any method for individually recording overdubs/layers.

Can I use the 1/8″ AUX input to play tune into the looper and integrate it into my loop with the BOSS RC-3?
Yes you can use the AUX input to record from your MP3 player, for instance, using the looper.

Can I pre-record tracks, edit them in a DAW, load them into the BOSS RC-3 as loops and trigger them with the footswitch when required?

Yes, the RC-3 is setup to take WAV files via USB. The loop file format is 44.1kHz, 16-bit stereo.
Can I trigger a one-shot playback (a.k.a. single phrase) with the BOSS RC-3? In other words, can I set the loop to just play 1 time when triggered?

Yes, this single phrase functionality is available on the RC-3. This is controlled by holding down the Tap Tempo button while saving the phrase.

Can I play with multiple loops simultaneously with the BOSS RC-3, and turn them on and off? For instance, play drums on one track, base-line on the other, and guitar on a different and bring them in and out of this song?
The only way you could partly accomplish this with the RC-3 is using the reverse redo functionality, and it would be very limited.

Can I play a loop or overdub in reverse with the BOSS RC-3?
No, there is no reverse function in the RC-3.

Does the BOSS RC-3 have stereo audio or just mono?
The RC-3 has stereo sound.

Is there anything in the BOSS RC-3 that reduces the clicking sound that could occur when tapping on the footswitch during overdub?
Not that we’re aware of, but pedals are typically quieter than footswitch press buttons. It might be a problem.

Is the BOSS RC-3 a Great looper for live performances on stage?
The RC-3 could be used to get on-stage performance. You can use it for very basic looping features. The advantages are that it is compact and could be battery powered. That having been said, we believe the RC-3 is better for home use. We like this version’s performance for writing new songs, editing, porting to a DAW, practicing, learning and movie performances. The price point is excellent for an entry level looper.

Are there several stop modes in the BOSS RC-3?
No, unlike many looper channels on the market, the RC-3 doesn’t have alternative stop manners.

Can I stutter start with the BOSS RC-3?
No, we’re not aware of any way to stutter start with the RC-3 if you don’t add those effects to a WAV file inside your DAW and then import via USB.

Can I resample with the BOSS RC-3? In other words, can I take a loop and change it by multiplying it, cutting part of it out, including a different effect for it, etc?
No the RC-3 does not have multiply or any other resampling functionality.

Can the BOSS RC-3 be set to auto-record Once I begin playing?
Yes the RC-3 has auto-record.

With the BOSS RC-3, are there any issues with droning (playing the exact same note, chord, repeated sounds, or tone-clusters always ) at the boundaries of the loops — such as noticeable change in volume?
We have not experienced or heard of a problem with droning using the RC-3.

Does the BOSS RC-3 have a built in metronome?
Ten rhythm tracks are pre-loaded to the RC-3. You can adjust the tempo and use as a metronome.

Is there some software that comes with the BOSS RC-3?
No, there’s absolutely no PC software that’s made available specifically for the BOSS looper pedals.

Is quantize functionality available on the BOSS RC-3?
Yes, the RC-3 operates in auto-quantize mode as a Rhythm track is playing.

Will the BOSS RC-3 interface with my DAW (digital audio workstation)/pc through USB?
The RC-3 does not function as an audio interface. The USB is only utilized to transfer the loop documents, not stream the audio output to the DAW.

Will the BOSS RC-3 interface with my computer through USB to transfer sound files?
Yes, the USB port on the RC-3 is used to transfer files. A number of other loopers in the marketplace don’t have this functionality.

Can I save and remember loops with SD card with the BOSS RC-3?
There’s No SD card slot on the RC-3.

Does the BOSS RC-3 have effects (FX)?
No the RC-3 does not have built-in effects (FX).

Can I bypass the effects (FX) with the BOSS RC-3?
No, this isn’t applicable to the RC-3 since the unit does not have internal effects.

Can I turn off or mute the live signal that’s fed via the BOSS RC-3 (for use in parallel effects loops of an amp in Aux Send/Return of a mixer)?
No, there’s absolutely no way to mute the live signal. This may cause sound quality (phasing) issues when used in parallel effects loops or send/return aux of a mixer.

Can I save presets for consequences with the BOSS RC-3?
No, this isn’t applicable to the RC-3 since the unit does not have internal effects.

Does the BOSS RC-3 have an XLR mic input? Does it have phantom power for a condenser mic?
No, the RC-3 does not have an XLR input.

Does the BOSS RC-3 serve as a mixer with multiple inputs?
Not really. There are two sound inputs: 1/4” stereo set and Aux 1/8″. However, you can’t control any individual parameters such as volume.

Can I re-assign footswitch functionality with the BOSS RC-3?
The function of the single foot pedal could be changed in that you change the order of record/overdub/playback that is triggered by successive taps of the pedal. There are two settings: record/overdub/playback (default) and record/playback/overdub.

Does the BOSS RC-3 have a headphone jack for playback and monitoring?
No the RC-3 doesn’t have a dedicated headphone jack.

Can the BOSS RC-3 be connected to an external MIDI device?
No the RC-3 does not have MIDI ports.

Does DigiTech release firmware upgrades for the RC-3?
Yes, they do.

Is there an optional footswitch I Can add to the BOSS RC-3 to increase functionality?
Yes, you may either add 1 FS-5U, two FS-5U’s, or one FS-6. One FS-5U will allow a fast stop function, hands-free tempo control, and a memory clearing function. Both FS-5U’s function like one FS-6. The functionality is memory slot shift.

Is there an optional expressional pedal that I can increase the BOSS RC-3 to control effects(FX)?
No, there isn’t a means to connect an expression pedal to the RC-3.

What’s the sampling rate and bit depth of the A/D/A conversion?
For the RC-3, it’s 44.1 kHz in 16-bit — for recording/playback.

Can the BOSS RC-3 be battery powered?
Yes, it may use a 9V alkaline battery.

What’s the warranty for the BOSS RC-3?
According to the Roland US website , the warranty is 5 years on parts and 2 years for labor on compact and double pedals.

What size is the BOSS RC-3?
The RC-3 is compact. It weighs 1 lb. It’s footprint is 2.875″ x 5.125″ and is 2.375″ tall. Also, bear in mind that the optional footswitch FS-5U is 4”x4”x2″. The FS-6 is 8”x4”x2″.

What company makes the BOSS RC-3 and where are they found?
BOSS is located in Los Angeles, CA. They’re owned by Roland Corporation, which is based in Tokyo, Japan and is publicly held.

How is the support from BOSS on any issues that arise with the unit?
There’s a main guide on the RC-3, along with an addendum. There is also a very brief playing guide. Through the BOSS site, there is a limited knowledge base that’s not organized as a forum (like many other producers have). BOSS and their reps are quick to respond and help, but hard engineering questions are sent to Japan. The answers that come back are not always everything you need, from what we’ve heard.

How long has the BOSS RC-3 been in production?
According to this press release, the RC-3 began sending, Together with the RC-30, in May 2011. These devices are successors to the RC-2 and RC-20XL. The RC-20XL premiered on J uly 2004 (press release) as a successor to the RC-20, which was the first BOSS looper released January 2001 (press release). The RC-2 was released in July 2006 (press release). BOSS also started shipping the RC-300 in December 2011, which is probably the most feature-packed (and most expensive) looper channel in the marketplace (press release). This was a follow up to the RC-50, which started shipment in January 2006 (press release).

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