Here comes the Boss RC-505 Loop Station Review!
In early 2018 I traded in my beloved Boss RC-300 for the Boss RC-505 to take its place. You can read my post about the RC-300 here, and I’ll do a true comparison review soon, to highlight the similarities versus the differences between the two.
While differences between these loop stations do exist, I would say that overall the two machines are much more similar than different. The primary difference in my mind is that while my older RC-300 was a foot pedal, meant for the floor, my newer RC-505 is meant for table top use – all of its buttons are designed for fingers, not feet.
Of course if you’re playing a traditional musical instrument such as a guitar or a keyboard, you may need the foot-operated RC-300 or another foot-operated loop station, as your fingers will be busy enough playing your instrument. Sure, you can set up your RC-505 to begin recording as soon as you begin to play, but this to me is an over-complicated approach when there are lots of great foot-operated loop stations out there to serve your needs more directly.
The RC-505 with its finger-controlled buttons is geared towards the more electronic fields of music, meant for use on a table top, and presumably for electronic instruments such as drum machines, synthesizers, or other instruments that would not require such constant hands-on attention. Boss also directly markets this machine, right on the front of its own packaging, as “For avant-garde loopers and beatboxers”.
The RC-505 has five tracks which are essentially five different loop stations. They are defaulted to synchronize, so that all of your loops will line up with one another, however you can change this if you want to create non-synchronized loops. Each track has its own volume fader, and can be edited separately from the other recorded tracks – for example, you could have one track playing in reverse while all other tracks are playing in the normal forward direction.
You can apply effects to the input, and also the output. What this means is that if you are adding effects to the input, then anything that you are performing live and running through the RC-505 will have effects on it. But if you only add effects to the output, then only the tracks that you’ve already recorded will be running through effects, and your live input performance will not be affected.
The RC-505 has four hours of recording space, and 99 channels to record and save onto. You don’t have to save your recordings – maybe you want to exclusively focus on live looping and not rely on any pre-recorded loops. I like to do a little bit of both, which opens up more possibilities for what is achievable during a live performance. You can also name your saved recordings, so that later on you can look for the song title and not have to remember that “Channel 61″ (for example) is the song you’re looking for. You can just scroll through the channels until you see the actual song title.
This machine has two 1/4″ input jacks, as well as an Auxiliary 1/8″ input. It has two 1/4” output jacks, as well as a single stereo output for headphones. There’s also room to add an external expression pedal if you prefer, but it’s not included with the machine.
Once you’re performing and recording loops onto separate channels, you can start and stop any given channel while the other channels continue playing. Or you can hit the All Start/All Stop button to start or stop all channels at once. You can also record loops on top of loops within any given channel, so if you wanted to, you could have several loops all playing out on the same channel – this only means that you can no longer control those loops separately.
Below is a video of me performing a cover song by The Chainsmokers, using the RC-505 amongst other things. In this instance, I have some pre-recorded samples ready to go on the RC-505, but I also later on do some live loops on top of the pre-recorded loops:
If you make a mistake while recording a loop, you have the option to go back and erase the most recent loop that you’ve recorded. Then if you decide you didn’t want to erase that loop after all, you can retrieve it. These options only apply to the most recently recorded loop on a given channel.
There’s a lot more to go on about here, and I haven’t even yet explained HOW to operate a lot of these functions! Stay tuned because I’ll be doing more posts soon about this exciting new looper!