Boss RC-5 Loop Station review

A compact looper with expansive features, does this justify upgrading from your RC-1?

Boss RC-5 Loop Station
(Image: © Future)

Guitar World Verdict

Big on features but typically compact, the RC-5 is a powerful practice, writing and performance tool that is ideal for soloists and a very cool addition to any player's pedalboard.

Pros

  • +

    Heaps of memory.

  • +

    Encourages creativity.

  • +

    Compact.

  • +

    High-quality 32-bit processing.

Cons

  • -

    Nothing.

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For some, the only functionality required from a looper pedal is to track chords to jam over at home, but others will need far more capabilities as they explore the potential of multiple tracks and samples onstage. 

Boss has earned itself an impressive reputation in the field (including the most famous looper on the planet, thanks to Ed Sheeran using the RC-30 for years). The RC-5 pitches itself in a very inviting position: compact like the RC-1 and RC-3, but with upgrades. It’s the traditional winning Boss pedal chassis dimensions with that reassuringly sized area for stomping on and activating key controls.

The new 32-bit processing puts it ahead in sample and definition quality over its compact brethren, offering unlimited uncompressed overdubs, and is worth the extra investment for those who will be layering. The clear LED screen shows you the progress of your loop, which is really handy for keeping on top of timing visually as well as by ear.

There’s memory for 99 separate looping compositions and much more loop time than the RC-1’s 12 minutes, with a whopping 13 hours for all memories (1.5 hours for one track). But there are features here that are especially useful for home players: you can upload backing tracks to the looper or jam along and build loops over the 57 in-built drum grooves with two variations for each, plus customized patterns and seven kit types.

We found it really encourages experimentation for solo players – just remember to put the RC-5 in the effects loop of your amp if you’re using its overdrive to avoid adding any unwanted distortion to the drums. The combination of all this justifies the extra cost over the RC-1, and makes the most impressively featured compact looper we’ve ever used.

Specs

  • PRICE: $205 / £169
  • TYPE: Looper pedal with onboard rhythms
  • CONTROLS: Memory/Loop Level knob, Memory button, Setup button, Rhythm On/Off button, Rhythm Tempo button, Pedal switch
  • SOCKETS: Input A/Mono and Input B, Output A/Mono and Output B 1/4-inch; Stop/Memory control jack: 1/4-inch TRS; USB type B port; MIDI In/Out, DC in
  • BYPASS: Buffered
  • POWER: 9V battery (approx two hours life) or AC adaptor
  • CONTACT: Boss (opens in new tab)

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Rob is the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar (opens in new tab), handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before MusicRadar, he worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including as Editor of Total Guitar. He's currently set aside any pipe dreams of getting anywhere with his own songs and is enjoying playing covers in function bands.