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December 4, 2006

Filed under: music»tools»looping

Moore's Loops

Roland, the parent corporation of Boss pedals, has announced a loop pedal the size of a regular compact pedal for release this fall. It's a tempting package, and if I didn't already own a looper that I like very much, I'd probably want to pick it up. It has a mind-boggling amount of loop time (16 minutes) with non-volatile memory and an aux jack to store backing tracks or samples. There's an undo function, tap tempo, and built-in drum patterns. I really like that it's switched on by the output jack instead of the input, so that it doesn't have to be a part of a signal chain. Plus, Musician's Friend has it priced at $180, which makes it the cheapest and smallest looper that I'm aware of.

On the other hand, like all Boss compact pedals it doesn't lend itself well to complex hands-free operation. The single footswitch will apparently handle record, play, and overdub functions, plus undo (hold the switch) and stop (double-tap). Overloading a switch with that many functions makes timing far too complicated, especially for players that really integrate the looper into their songwriting: Undo is useful for inserting and removing chord layers, for example. Play Once (or "One-shot," as Roland calls it) automates ending a loop, taking some of the timing burden off the operator, but here it's been moved onto a separate playback mode of its own and requires turning the selection knob by hand to activate. The RC-2 accepts two extra footswitches via an extension jack, but it looks to me like those are only used for Stop and Tap Tempo. The more that I use the Line 6 looper's four-switch layout (Record/Overdub, Play/Stop, Play Once, Speed/Reverse), the more I appreciate it. And although the footprint for the Line 6 DL-4 is much larger than a Boss pedal, it's capable of going battery-powered for a surprisingly long time with a set of C-cells. Generally speaking, a 9-volt can't handle the drain from a loop processor for very long, so I'm guessing Boss's entry will really require a wall-adapter.

Bottom-line, it looks like it'll be a great entry-level pedal, but is probably more oriented to musicians with backing tracks or already-determined arrangements. That's kind of a theme for Boss's loopers, as far as I can tell--they lend themselves better to solo performers fleshing out their orchestration, as opposed to jam- or purely loop-oriented songwriters.

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