Boss RC-30 Phrase Looper Pedal by Juicy_scooby
I got this pedal over 5 years ago to help practice soloing on guitar. At the time, I didn't know much of anything about looping, and this pedal was a great introduction to it. Now that I'm much more experience with a variety of gear, the RC-30 is still possibly my favorite pedal, and almost certainly the most important.
This pedal has 2 stereo loop tracks without a time limit. As with most Boss Loopers the start/stop/overdub functions are pretty simple. Left pedal starts and overdubs, right one stops. Holding the left one deletes the last overdub, holding the right will switch which of the two tracks are selected. If you double press the left it will engage whatever effect is listed for the loop.
There are two sliders for the track volumes, and my only complaint with these is that you can't adjust it with your foot unless you're not wearing shoes (and even then controlling volume with your big toe isn't ideal.) But there's no less cumbersome way to control volume I can think of!
The loops can be set to a tap tempo using the right pedal or a small button by the rhythm knob. The rhythm can be "on" before the loops starts to pre-set the tempo, or will auto detect a loop. The auto detect only really works if the audio you're feeding the pedal is fairly transient-rich or rhythmic itself.
Both loops can play at the same time obviously, and it's not too hard to switch ad turn one off independently, but you do have to hold down the right pedal to do it hands free which could be a time issue live, but hasn't hindered me much at all.
Double stomp the right one to stop both loops.
One interesting and REALLY COOL feature of this pedal is that it is capable of replicating Frippertronics loops. The technology here gets dicey and Wikipedia doesn't do a great job of explaining it imo, but essentially is allows for a growing multi-layered style of looping invented by Robert Fripp and expanded on by Brian Eno. You can read up on it here for more info.
There are 99 slots you can write two loops to, and the last 10 of them are presets. They are 99% garbage, nice to solo over I guess? I never touch em.
You can't name the presets but they will last forever, I've browsed through some old ones and found entire songs I had completely forgotten about. It's truly magical. Another great application is that you can load in, say a backing track, and then bring in numerous new instruments mid song at the stomp of a foot. I've used this a few times, and it's quite simple and seamless as long as you have your tempo in mind.
There are also 10 different drum track patterns, these aren't terrible but certainly no drum machine. They have a few variants ranging from a simple metronomic hi-hat sound to a full blown samba beat. They also work in both time signature types, 3/4 and 4/4, but only some sound "good" in the 3/4 signature. In general, they are useful, but only to assist the looping.
The effects are actually pretty cool! There's a bend down (kind of novel, just drops the entire loop by 1 or 2 octaves, but it has the velocity of a vinyl record slowing down), there's also a sweep filter which sounds okay, a step phaser that is also okay, a delay feature that's pretty nifty, and a "lo-fi" setting that kind of just makes it sound distorted, it's also kind of novel. You can only use one effect at once, but they have their moments to shine.
The only I/O I would want added to this pedal is MIDI, and even that is almost overkill.
It has stereo in/out 1/4 inch jacks, interestingly it won't turn on without at least 1 cable plugged into the output.
There's an XLR input with a volume knob. In my opinion, this is an underrated feature that makes this pedal 100% more versatile. You can mic and loop ANYTHING easily and quickly. Beatboxing, drums, whatever you can think of. The best part? It has phantom power you can toggle on or off. I've literally used this as a DI box for years, whether I'm recording a loop or not.
There is a USB output that allows you to dump loops and save data. I'm not too experienced with this aspect as I've only used this for it's analogue uses, but I believe it's possible to download some content (drum sounds?) from Bosses website. Might have more powerful connectivity or firmware updates as well, not sure. I don't think this feature revolutionizes the pedal, but it's reassuring to have the option, especially for backing things up and load .wav files back onto the looper.
Boss always makes tank worthy pedals. I love the switches they make, you've all felt one under your foot before. It's made of metal and will take a serious beating. The sliders and knobs have a professional sense of traction and it's easy to set specifically. Buttons are rubber and feel great. Absolutely no complaints here.
There's a lot of loopers out there with a single button, little phrase recorders and whatnot. For a lot of people that's all you need, a simple way to overdub. This pedal not only does twice that, it's interface and ability to manipulate loops live or without putting down your instrument is unmatched. It's easy to integrate, and deep enough to keep you coming back to it. If you're looking for your first looper, something to add a second musician to your projects, or want a deeper look into looping this is a fantastic pedal. Reverb puts this thing around $200, which is very affordable considering. For me, the RC-30 is second only to the Boss RC-300, which is much pricier. I think this is probably top of the line for "intermediate" looping devices, and honestly probably the best "intro" looping pedal you'll find.
Can't recommend it enough. It's a fantastic pedal that can be implemented easily into a pedal board, for beat boxing, studio recording, or practice. Great bang for it's buck, and easy to use. I might even go buy myself a second one just for kicks.
Thanks for reading!