Boss RC-300 Loop Station

December 27, 2012

The RC-300 Loop Station ($549 street), which replaces the RC-50 as the flagship looper of the Boss line, triples the 50’s recording time to three hours—even in stereo! The 300’s eight footswitches are compactly laid out and feel more manage- able than the 50’s seven. A Record/Play/ Overdub footswitch and the Stop switch for each of the three loop Tracks (formerly called Phrases) are placed side-by-side, and the Undo/Redo switch is gone—holding the Record/Play/Overdub switch down for two seconds now undoes the last overdub on a phrase. Tempos are tapped in with a small button in the RC-300’s Rhythm sec- tion or with one of the three Stop buttons. An All Start/Stop switch starts and stops the three tracks at once.

The RC-300 also includes effects such as chorus, delay, slicer, tremolo, distor- tion, pitch shifting, and more, which can be placed before or after a loop. Pressing the Loop FX footswitch for two seconds lets you scroll up and down through the effects using Track 3’s two footswitches. A built-in expression pedal controls the effects, and there are inputs for extra controllers and footswitches. The expression pedal, or, for that matter, any of the onboard or external footswitches, can be programmed to con- trol a wide variety of functions, including tap tempo, playback level, level of the built- in rhythm tracks, etc. This assignment can be saved to an individual track within a Phrase Memory, including all three tracks. Three sliders mix the level from each track post recording.

If it sounds a bit complicated, it is. While I was able to do basic three-track looping and blending without peeking at the manual, plumbing the 300’s considerable depths required instruction, and the manual was not as clear as it could be. Should you get lost in the universe of options, however, the company’s support line is very helpful.

I have found Boss Loopers to be the easiest to use when it comes to synch- ing rhythmic loops, as the switches react quickly, allowing me to nail the endpoints with or without a click track. The RC-300 is no exception, and I was soon laying down funk chords, overdubbing picked parts, and soloing until tendonitis set in. I could also lay down a bass part using the guitar/bass effect, which allowed me to drop an octave with the expression pedal, but also revealed some heavy artifacts in the pitch-shifting algorithm. The same was true of the Bend (whammy) effect.

As most looping guitarists already have a pedalboard full of effects, I would prefer to see Boss free up processing power used for the effects and deploy it toward improving the sound of what I found to be the most useful effect—Transpose—which shifts all the tracks any interval plus or minus one octave. In conjunction with the track copy feature, Transpose let me record a loop on Track 1 then copy it to Track 2, where I could create a new song section by transposing it up one or two steps (before artifacting became too noticeable).

The RC-300’s USB connector also lets you offload loops to your computer, and use the unit as an interface to record to your DAW. Though the RC-300 only sends a mixed stereo signal of all three tracks, I could solo the tracks one at a time (by pull- ing down the volume of the other two) and record each part of my loop to its own DAW track for further processing.

Once I had a handle on all its possibili- ties, the RC-300 was easy to use in perfor- mance, enabling me quickly to create lush, multi-textured ambiences. Its abundance of memory and rhythm tracks made it possible to practice full 12-bar blues or 32-bar stan- dards, even at medium and slow tempos. Factor in its high-quality sound and “built to withstand nuclear holocaust” construc- tion, and the RC-300 jumps into the short list of loopers to investigate.

KUDOS A highly flexible, multitrack looper with great sound.
CONCERNS Artifacts in pitch effects.

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