Boss RC-3 RC-30 Synthesizer Looping

Boss RC-30 RC-3 Looper
Boss RC-30 RC-3 Looper

Although I already have both the Boss RC-50 and RC-300 Lopp Station Pedal Boards, I couldn’t pass up on an excellent deal involving a Boss RC-30 and RC-3 combo package. Some guy brought in both to the store a second hand Boss RC-3 and RC-30. The sales clerk asked if I was interested and I responded quickly when I found the price to be too good to pass up. These things are kind of expensive and honestly I think he got them mixed up with the RC-20 and RC-2 combo because he pretty much sold them near the same price as those used. I’m very happy with getting a great deal on these.

Today I hooked up the Boss RC-3 to my Roland D-50 and had quite a bit of fun with it. How I use the Boss RC-3 with synths is perhaps different than others. With the Boss RC-3, I transfer about ten 8 bar drum loop WAVs to memory slots 1 to 10. I then choose one and loop over the 8 bar groove. I then save the loop to a “DIFFERENT” slot so that I can then reuse the original drum loop again. For example, I copy a drum loop WAV file created in Audacity to memory slot #1. I then perform my overdubs and jam over the finished loop using the D-50. I then save the loop to memory slot #11. That way I have a finished loop in slot #11 and the original drum loop still intact at slot #1. This method kind of gives me 10 new drum grooves to work with instead of the factory drums in the internal memory which I don’t particularly care for. I also don’t mind being locked into an 8 bar groove in this example because that’s what I usually do anyway with creating a loop. Actually when using the Boss RC-3 or RC-30 I record both the A and B sections in one loop. I’m not a big fan of loop redundancy. I think if people were to create their loops a little longer it would be a bit more interesting, but that’s just me.

Note that when transferring WAV files to the Boss RC-3 there is a drop in volume. There are a lot of complaints about this around the web. The solution is to lower the volume in Audacity or your favorite audio editor. You’ll have to experiment with this but I found -20db to be about right for my particular WAV loops. When I transfer WAV files to my Boss RC-50 I don’t have to lower the volume at all, so clearly the Boss RC-3 has changed. In addition, you get latency when changing loop phrases. This is also well known and in my opinion quite deliberate of Boss Japan. I’ve been in Japan now for 19 years and can tell you the thought process coincides quite clearly with the decision to add latency to the RC-3. It doesn’t surprise me the RC-3 has such limitations and I highly doubt a firmware upgrade will fix it. If Boss Japan does decide to fix it, then be on the look out for a Boss RC-4. That seems much more realistic than a firmware update in my mind.

Anyways, the Boss RC-3 also works fantastic as an addon to the Boss RC-50 and RC-300 for use as a “free mode” looping device. I put the Boss RC-3 and RC-30 “BEFORE” the RC-50. I always use the RC-50 and RC-300 in Single mode so that I can easily record a Verse, Chorus, and Bridge or Vamp for synth songs. I use drum WAV files of predetermined lengths in loop 1, 2, and 3 on the RC-50. I then use a blank silent drum WAV for the RC-3 or RC-30 that matches the tempo and length of the files in the RC-50. When I now stomp on the RC-3 I can record a loop that will sync for 4 to 5 cycles of the RC-50. This allows me to add some color or flavor to the mix temporarily. The free mode effect allows slight shifting which lends to an interesting analog feel. I don’t play ambient stuff, but rather straight forward rock, synthpop, and up tempo oriented songs In most cases I don’t detect any drifting. Again that is due to use the RC-3 and RC-30 loops working in short cycles and not for the during of a song. This brilliantly extends the RC-50 or RC-300 with more looping options which is awesome. Also note that with the RC-30, the effects on board are more useful because you can use the dive effect in like a one shot mode over the RC-50 composition. It’s all hard to visualize perhaps so I might do a video here shortly of how I loop.

Other loopers I have here are the Lexicon Jamman, Gibson Echoplex, and the Digitech Jamman Solo. I use them all, but nowadays I primarily use the Boss looper stuff. I thought about getting a Boomerang III, but with no midi sync nor the ability to save loops it was quickly scratched off my list. As a synth player, midi and the ability to store my sketches are very important to me. Indeed the Boomerang III is probably the best by most, but without midi and loop storage it’s definitely not a good looper for what I do, although I do have my eye on it in case things change. Originally I bought the Jamman and Echoplex for the fantastic midi capabilities. The newer Jamman Solo had the first significant loop storage ability. The Boos RC-50 and RC-300 loopers I have found suit me well for synth looping. I really like them. Now adding the Boss RC-3 and RC-30 allows a lot of expansion possibilities and additional fun. If you haven’t tried looping check them out! I sure wish these loopers were around when I was a kid in the 80’s.


3 thoughts on “Boss RC-3 RC-30 Synthesizer Looping

  1. Hi everyone,

    I’ve been getting quite a few emails regarding my thoughts on software loopers. I actually don’t use computers or ipads on stage at all. I use a lot of computers at work and also a lot with sampling. When I get to the stage, I actually want to relax and have fun which for me means no computers on stage. One of these days I may try it, but for now I really only stick to hardware. It’s been that way ever since I started playing music in the early 80’s.

    So my thoughts on comparing the Boss RC-300 with something like Ableton or apps on the iPad, is that I don’t compare them. However, I can say that by the time I buy an iPad, midi connection device, audio connection device, and the application itself, I’m almost into the same price range if not more than the Boss RC-300. Yes, it’s perhaps cheaper if you find added value with using additional apps and looper functions that something the computer might provide. However, the Boss RC-300 for example does everything I need it to do at this point so therefor I haven’t made the switch.

    I suppose I should also say that using computers to compose music majorly hampers my creativity. I don’t know why, but I just can’t get the creative juices flowing as I can with sitting down with hardware and playing away. That’s just me though.

    Thanks for all the email responses. Much appreciated.

  2. Henry

    Personally, I chose the Boss RC-3 when I was in the market for a looper but I’ve also used my friend’s Ditto looper and it’s AWESOME at what it does.

    I scoured Amazon’s best seller list and really weighed the features as well as the pros and cons before plunking my cash down and deciding for myself.

    Whether it’s the Ditto, Boss, or DigiTech…they’re all solid loopers it’s all about what you need and what you do with them. Cheers!

  3. Tom

    Hi Jim, thanks for the article, very informative. I have the RC-300 & I find it covers pretty much everything I want to do. I run guitars and synth drums through it, and have recently started jamming with a friend who sings through it as well. To make things easier, we want to buy another looper for her, and sync the two pedals together using MIDI (sync the tempos etc). Please could you tell me, can you sync the RC-300 with the RC-3? Thanks a lot, Tom. 🙂

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