In a similar way to how Boss fairly recently revamped its DD Digital Delay range, it has now completed the same sort of exercise for its RC Loop Stations. Both kind of kicked off with new 200 Series models - the DD-200 and RC-10R respectively - which funnily enough I both have in my pedal-chain. And a few months later Boss targeted a couple of the remaining older models for updates and upgrades.
In this instance it is the 2011-launched RC-3 and RC-30 models that are the ones being retired to make way for the newer variations of each. Boss’s Loop Station range has consisted of 7 models since the arrival of the RC-10R, there are now 5 floor-based stomp boxes in ascending order of size and ability - the RC-1, RC-5 (in place of RC-3), RC-10R Rhythm Loop Station, RC-500 Dual Track (in place of RC-30), and RC-300 Triple Track. There are also two tabletop models - the RC-202 and RC-505 - the latter of which you will be very familiar with if like me you are a dedicated follower of Marc Rebillet!
The major innovations in the two new devices are the 32 Bit Processing with extensive 13 Hours of Recording Time, the intuitive Back-Lit Colour-Coded LCD Display, finessed rhythm patterns and sounds, and new Playback Modes - Reverse Playback for the RC-5, and Scatter, Repeat, Shift, Vinyl Flick and Reverse Playback Modes for the RC-500.
The RC-500 as mentioned is the replacement for the RC-30, which in turn replaced the earlier RC-20 - which at that time was Ed Sheeran’s main looper of choice. Besides the obvious Dual Track nature of the larger pedal with its twin output sliders, you will also note the Mic Input and Level - signalling it very much as the weapon of choice for your budding Ed Sheeran or KT Tunstall.
In my above visual I have highlighted the main differences in a different colour - while you can see via the shared LCD screen and feature sets that these two devices share a lot of the same DNA. Core to both is the new RGB Back-Lit LCD Screen which changes colour to reflect the active looper function and elegantly visually illustrates the loop segments - as illustrated in the same visual. The screen is the main visual differentiator for the RC-5 versus the earlier RC-3 which otherwise retains similar aesthetics. While the look and feel of the RC-500 is quite different to the earlier dual-pod RC-30, as the newer format utilises the knobs and buttons of the established 500 series. I actually quite liked the visual aspect of the RC-30 - with the different shaped buttons etc. but the 3-assignable / configurable footswitches on the newer pedal make it a much stronger proposition.
I feel the RC-5, RC-10R and RC-500 are Boss’s intermediary level looper pedals - where the RC-10R obviously focuses more on the Rhythm/Pattern side - while the RC-1 with its clever visualised circular segmented loop indicator is more suitable for beginners.
The first three mentioned are all intended for Guitarists, Bassists and Keyboardists, while the Mic Input on the RC-500 obviously allows Vocal Mics and other Mic-Enabled Acoustic Instruments to be added into the mix.
For me the RC-1 is your starter for 10 (no rhythms); the RC-5 is the slightly more advanced compact professional tool with some additional effects, functions and rhythm patters; the RC-10R makes more of a feature of the Rhythm Component - so good for instrumental performers who want some pretty decent backing, while if you’re more of a singer/songwriter/vocalist/multi-instrumentalist - then you need the RC-500 to bring your vocals and extra inputs into the mix.
Each of these has quite a specific best-fit usage scenario - and each comes with an expanding waistline / footprint as you go up through the range. That’s why the RC-10R is the perfect model for me, while if I wasn’t so bothered about the extra Drum Pattern Functionality and Refinements, then the RC-5 would be my weapon of choice. Actually I have to add that I really like the visual appeal of the RC-10R probably the best overall in its vertical slightly over-BB-size enclosure - its dual displays are very reminiscent of the RC-1 and highly visually and intuitively appealing.
I have covered all the key specs in my above visual, so I don’t feel I need to repeat them in the body copy - bar for the need to reference the size and price of each.
Postscript! - I feel it’s important to note that while most current Looper Pedals are now power-supply only, Boss still gives you the option of running them off battery power.