Back in the day, when pure sounds and clean tones had leading position in music, nobody was thinking about audio effects. The pristine character of human voices or instruments amazed everyone and created standards that everybody had to satisfy. But nothing remains set in stone, things tend to change and develop quite a bit. That is exactly what happened: people started appreciating distorted sounds, reverbed madness and tremolo craze. As we came closer to contemporary times, the choice of effects became more and more versatile. And such diversity created a cure for lone wolves as well – it produced an opportunity for them to become a band themselves. Yes, you have guessed correctly, I am talking about loopers. These wonderful units enable you to record your pieces, play them back continuously and receive jaw-dropping end results. Though some might be skeptical of these devices, their vast capabilities cannot be neglected. Today I am going to talk about the brand that has been the most prominent member of the looper family. Such pedals from Boss have earned their fame due to various reasons, one of them being their badass properties. RC-3, in particular, is a compact stompbox with expansive features. Let’s continue and see how it stands out from the rest of the options. Shall we begin?
You know how versatility means a whole different thing depending on the effect we are talking about? Well, loopers are those that have to be diverse, otherwise you will not be able to get the most use out of them. Some added features open up way more possibilities then you would initially think. Boss RC-3 is a unit that will force you to work harder and achieve better results. It is housed in rugged enclosure, per usual, and has very attractive red chassis. But that is not the only reason why this thing rocks. It has dual inputs and outputs that enable you to operate the unit in stereo mode or employ mic or any other instrument during your performance. It does also have a USB port that makes it possible to connect the pedal to the computer. This way you can import or export WAV files and incorporate them in your rig. Not to mention the Aux input for connecting an mp3 player or anything of that ilk. RC-3 offers three hours of recording, which is a huge improvement compared to its predecessor. This feature allows you to play and record continuously, without having to stop and do everything over. What is more, this stompbox has 99 memory locations for saving your loops, meaning that you have an extensive amount of storage on hand. This bad boy does also come with 10 drum patterns that might not be enough for everybody. However, there is a way to around this limitation: you can download or import pre-recorded pieces that have drum patterns in them. With their help you can practice your rhythm or experiment with some cool variations. You have the option to Undo/Redo, utilize tap tempo, Auto Recording or Count-In modes or overdub whenever you feel like it. And finally, RC-3 runs on a single 9V battery or an adaptor. As you can see, regardless of the compact size, this fella does not joke around when it comes to providing you with multiple features.
The control section looks like an extremely digital creation. And that is not surprising considering the character of the pedal. RC-3 has a set of knobs and buttons that allow you to make all the necessary modifications. Since such layout can be a bit overwhelming, manual offers a detailed explanation of all the controls and functions. Though I will discuss them all, I still suggest scrutinizing the manual to understand the whole potential of this one.
Let’s start with the only encoder we have here: it is a dual knob that has two major duties to fulfill. Output Loop (the outer one) modifies the level of the playback, while the Output Rhythm (the inner one) changes the volume of the rhythm sound. Huge portion of control lies on the shoulders of displays and lights. Rec/Play/Dub LEDs indicate on the complementary modes and shine accordingly. The display on the center shows you the majority of the information that you can get out of the pedal. Up and Down buttons allow you to scroll through presets or memory slots, Write lets you save the recording in the stompbox, Rhythm turns the rhythm mode on or off, while Tap Tempo enables you to set the desired tempo. Finally, the footswitch can shift between phrase recording, overdubbing and playback.
When it comes to loopers, the evaluation of sonic capabilities is based on several factors: a good pedal should have great recording quality, enough storage to store your pieces and of course, clean and defined playback. RC-3 has all three and that is why it is so amazing. There was a noticeable pause while switching between memory banks, but they did improve it with a software update. Auto-Recording is a nice feature, as it activates the effect only when you start playing (not with a footswitch). Count-In is quite usable, as well, since it provides you with one bar of rhythm before your phrases start playing back. Available drum patterns sound decent and have enough definition to amplify your sound with some rhythm. All in all, RC-3 has enough sonic capabilities to handle a gig, but it turns into a real masterpiece during practices. This thing will show you a different outlook and force you to get out of your comfort zone.
To conclude everything said above, Boss RC-3 is one of the best options if you are looking for a compact looper. It packs way more punch than you would think and will definitely surprise you in the best way. It is not as versatile as its bigger siblings (RC-30 and RC-300), but when you consider the whole package, you understand that its diversity is more than you could ask for. Good luck!
Click here to view more from 10 Best Looper Pedals.