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Boss RC-10R Rhythm Loop Station review

Does this compact looper pedal with complex rhythms provide the ultimate creative platform?

Boss RC-10R Rhythm Loop Station review
(Image: © Future / Phil Barker)

Our Verdict

Bundling a heap of features into a reassuringly familiar and well-designed pedal, Boss has created a truly formidable creative tool that's inspiring and intuitive.

For

  • Ease of use.
  • Large variety of usable rhythms.
  • Instantly switchable between two song sections.
  • Visual loop indicators.

Against

  • Headphone output would have been useful.
  • No battery power for buskers.

The latest in Boss’s Loop Stations earns its ‘R’ suffix by having a built-in rhythm generator. 

Now, while it’s true that the RC-3 and RC-30 both have onboard rhythm patterns, too, what you have here is altogether more sophisticated in the rhythm department, making it almost a hybrid unit – a looper crossed with a drum machine. 

There are 280 preset rhythms covering a host of musical genres and each includes two unique sections (Pattern 1 and Pattern 2) with transition fills and an intro and ending. 

What’s more, there’s onboard storage space for 50 imported user rhythms in SMF (Standard MIDI File) format that you can create on your computer. All of the rhythms are played back by your choice of 16 onboard drum kits with sounds from the Boss and Roland rhythm libraries. 

For your actual looping (with or without the drums) there’s a stereo looper with two independent tracks, six hours’ recording time and 99 onboard memories for storing phrases.

In Use

The RC-10R is built into the same chassis as the Boss 200 series pedals, so it has two easily accessible footswitches – one for looping and one for rhythm. 

Besides standard pedalboard mono operation there’s true stereo in/out operation if you want it, and you can also utilise the L and R outputs to send loops and rhythm to separate destinations – typically loops to your guitar amp and rhythms to a PA or similar. 

If you’re sending the rhythms to your guitar amp alongside your guitar then there are some very useful output filtering/EQ options available to apply to the rhythm tracks, likewise for tweaking your sound if it’s not going to a guitar amp.

The front panel is a model of simplicity with separate volume knobs and excellent rotary LED displays for loops and rhythm. Besides these, there’s just a pair of buttons and a press-and-turn encoder knob to take care of adjusting parameters in the small but very clear display panel.

You can upload up to 50 imported user rhythms in SMF (Standard MIDI File). Just create them on your computer and the unit will do the rest, allowing you to choose from 16 onboard drum kits.

You can upload up to 50 imported user rhythms in SMF (Standard MIDI File). Just create them on your computer and the unit will do the rest, allowing you to choose from 16 onboard drum kits. (Image credit: Future / Phil Barker)

To use rhythm patterns you select a genre (funk, rock, and so on), choose a named rhythm pattern in that category and set the tempo in bpm. Hitting the footswitch will play an intro then the basic pattern, but you can hold the footswitch down to move to the second (usually slightly busier) variation on it (Pattern 2). 

Fills are automatically inserted when transitioning between the two patterns and you can chuck in a fill at any time by hitting the footswitch once.

There are some great patterns here that will really entice you to play along: excellent for creativity and sparking new musical ideas, but also extremely practical if you need to hone your timing. If you don’t like the sound of the kit that comes as the default with a particular pattern, it’s easily changed for another and you can adjust the reverb on it, too.

The RC-10R offers true stereo in/out operation. You can also send your loops and rhythms to separate destinations. There is also an input for an expression pedal. (Image credit: Future / Phil Barker)

For looping you choose a free memory slot and get started, with single presses taking you through either a record/overdub/play cycle or a record/play/overdub cycle. You can hold the switch to undo and redo loops and press it twice to stop. 

With two tracks available you can record two different song sections, and these can play serially with switching between Track 1 and Track 2 carried out by holding down the Rhythm switch and hitting the Loop switch.

All of that is with rhythm and loops operating separately, but using them simultaneously is facilitated by the very practical SYNC mode that lets you initiate loop recording by setting the rhythm going and having the looper change to Track 2 when the rhythm changes to Pattern 2. 

It’s all very intuitive and great for looping newbies. If you wish to expand your control options then external footswitches and expression pedal can take on a number of roles, or you can use MIDI.

Verdict

An inspirational tool for songwriting and practice: its rhythms can feed creativity and stretch your playing. Of course, the RC-10R is also perfectly capable for live use, too, and if you don’t choose to use the rhythms, you still have a looper that works like the Boss compact models. 

That’s not to say the rhythms aren’t useful live: a solo act may find them invaluable for a bigger sound, especially as the facility to load your own enables ready access to tailor-made backing tracks. Impressive.

Specs

(Image credit: Future / Phil Barker)
  • PRICE: $299.99 / £263
  • ORIGIN: Malaysia
  • TYPE: Looper pedal
  • FEATURES: Buffered bypass, maximum recording time: approx. 6hrs (stereo), 99 phrase memory slots
  • DRUM KITS: Studio, Live, Light, Heavy, Rock, Metal, Jazz, Brushes, Cajon, Drum&Bs, R&B, Dance, Techno, Dance Beats, Hiphop, 808+909
  • CONTROLS: Value, Loop Level, Rhythm Level, Menu switch, Exit switch, Loop footswitch, Rhythm footswitch
  • CONNECTIONS: Standard inputs (A/Mono, B), standard outputs (A/Mono, B), CTL 1, 2/EXP, MIDI In, MIDI Out, USB
  • POWER: Supplied 9V DC adaptor 250mA
  • DIMENSIONS: 101 (w) x 138 (d) x 65mm (h)
  • CONTACT: Boss