“ The RC-20 Loop Station is the first compact phrase recording and sampling pedal that's actually easy to use. A long sampling time of up to 5 min. 30 sec., helpful Guide Click and Loop Quantize functions, Realtime Tempo Change and hands-free control make the RC-20 a "must-own" pedal for guitarists, bassists and other musicians looking to create and play back loops "on the fly." „
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Here's the basic summary of what this pedal does (or is meant to do), written by Boss themselves
"Whether for use onstage or at home, the new RC-20XL will add depth and excitement to your performances by allowing you to layer phrases in real time - as many stacks as you like until you fill up the 16 minutes of ample recording space on the RC-20XL. Explore the expressive options of sound-on-sound performance by layering your own phrases to create a massive 'one-person band' experience. Build the ultimate solo, and do it all live in real time."
The question is though, does it do this? Does it actually creat this "one-person band" experience that it advertises? Let's find out.
What I use this pedal for is to record rhythm guitar and then solo over the top of it. I don't use it for live performances, I much prefer a human to do that (for obvious reasons). I just have a constant paranoia that my equipment will cut out and the whole performance will be ruined... anyway. It's possible to connect the pedal into the computer and record straight from what is being played in the loop. Now that's great! That gives you a completely latency free connection and is great for recording jams and demos. Ever since I bought this pedal it allowed me to improve upon my technique without having to have a buddy playing rhythm needlessly in the background.
One little thing I would have to say I don't like is that you have to use 4/4 drums on the recordings. For me I like exploring odd time signitures like 5/8 and 3/4 (because I'm cool like that) and considering you need a lot of practice to get used to those time signitures, I think that option is almost nescessary. I mean you can't expect everybody to play in 4/4 can you?
One question that arrises from this pedal is: Why don't I just use my computer to record a track and then play it back? That would be free wouldn't it? (Providing I had a computer). The thing is, that's true? I sort of drifted away from this pedal after I discovered it's just as easy to plug the guitar straight into the computer and play a rough recording.
I guess if you get this pedal, you should be trying to use it for live performances if you're the only guitarist in the band and need to lay down some rhythm over a solo. Appart from that, this pedal is made redundant by the fact my computer can just do the exact same thing!
My husband and I perform as a duo, and bought our RC-20 about a year ago. We've had loads of fun working out songs to perform using the loop station, new sounds to explore, and well... If I'm honest we spent a lot of time just messing around on it too!
The box is sturdy, and will easily withstand a long journey with kit in the back of the car to a gig. Ours has received a slight bashing and it still perfectly functional with barely a scratch on it.
As far as features go, the RC-20 is pretty limited. It's essentially the bare minimum of what you need to get by. The unit will record and store a fair amount of audio - up to about 15-16 minutes I believe, although as we use it for live looping, we've never reached this limit. There's a range of stop modes, including a dead stop, a fade out and the incredibly useful 'phrase end', which will stop the loop as soon as your set sample has played to the end.
Operating the unit takes a little getting used to, mostly with the timing of tapping, holding and releasing the pedals to achieve the desired effect. But it's so much fun to play around with that it really shouldn't take too long to get used to it. Auto quantize is a feature which will help with your timing to begin with, gently bending your slight errors into a definite phrase, which will loop without noticeable skipping. It's not perfect, and still takes some practise initially, but will help a lot while you're learning to use the system as a whole.
If you're after a pedal which maximises your scope for performance, this... probably isn't the one you want to go for. There's a much more advanced version in the Boss line, called the RC-300, which has much more flexibility and potential, as well as plenty of other choices outside of the Boss franchise.
However, if you're new to concept of looping, or if you're after a nifty little piece of kit to jam or practice with, then the RC-20 will probably prove itself much more useful to you.
I have been using a boss RC-20XL for about a year now and I must say I have found it a usefull and dynamic little piece of kit, but then when shops are asking around £160 for something it had better be usefull and a whole lot more to boot. I mainly use this when messing around with song ideas at home but I have used it at small university gigs and I can say that I haven't ever had any problems with it in the time that I've had it. Knowing its a Boss pedal is reasuring to me because I've had other old Boss pedals in the past and they have lasted forever. Basically this pedal acts as a Phrase recorder/Loop station allowing you to record a loop and then overdub your previous sound to begin building up layers into what can be an almost orchestral effect live on stage with only one guitar which is a pretty inpressive effect. There is a possibility to record up to 16 minutes of loops on the memory which is a huge amount for one song, but also the ability to store loops that you record aswell. There are also a number of useful and interesting features which can sometimes offer a bit of inspiration which I will discus later.
The look and feel:
The first time you get this pedal out of the box it can be a bit intimidating and you definitely won't get much out of it right away without a look through the manual. Like almost all Boss pedals it is Solidly constructed out of metal and chunky looking rubber on the base and foot switches. There are a lot of buttons and knobs crammed onto this twin but Boss have still managed to keep to display pretty clear and anyone familiar with other pedals in the Boss range will not be too put off. Any other misunderstanding or confusions can be quickly allayed with a refferal to the manual. I can't say I am a big fan of the colour though, the slightly dirty pinkish red is not great but i guess Boss have such a big range of pedals they must have been running out. The dimensions are roughly W/170mm D/150mm H/55mm and weighs around half a kilogram and is easily stowable in a good gigback pocket or the back of am amp for example. All in all this twin pedal seems pretty durable and solid which is nice to know when you are planning to repeatedly step on something that cost you over one hundred and fifty pounds.
On the rear of the pedal there are two inputs for a microphone or instrument and also an input for an auxilliary footswitch to control loop selection. There are also phase shift and reverse pots as well as an output which also turns on battery power when there is no DC power coming in from the DC PSA port. All of the input holes are secure and there in no movement when i use any of my leads, (4 different types)
On the face there are two dials which control the input levels for mic. and inst. seperately. A dial which controls the on/off and level of a guide drum tempo guide and another which controlls the total level of the output to amp or recording device. Finally there is a dial which select from 1-11 of the saveable phrases/loops which you may store.
The back of the top face of the pedal is lower than the front so thet the tops of the pedal are about level with the top of the foot switches which help to protect the dials from strayfoot damage and mid gig changes.
There are 6 small plastic buttons with LEDs in the middle whic are used from right to left to control; reverse; tap-tempo; write; exit; autostart and mode. These are mainly to do with the extra features of the pedal so I will leave their details for now but they all seem well made and fitted.
Lastly the two footpedal switches, one on either side take care of the basics. The left controls the recording and then becomes a play, overdub and undo switch depending on what else you are doing. The right controls stopping, the tempo and will also clear the loop. These are both solidly made out of black metal and given a chunky rubber grip on the top. They do not look like breaking any time soon!
Sound range and quality:
As far as sound quality is concerned there is very little to write. There is no noticable deterioration of tone or sound at any volume, it is completely natural and as if you were playing straight through to the amp with out the pedal. Crystal clear. There is even no difference when you go through with other pedals before this, it simple records the sounds it gets and plays them out again without any modification (with the slight exception of the reverse feature). The range of sounds you can get is quite expansive if you use your imagination, and by range here I mean the achievable effects you can get as this will have no effect on tone as previously described. It seems to work best when you plan a project out a bit in your head and think before you do, although undo does help to rectify mistakes in the recording process. Two thing I have been doing a bit on it lately that I will use as examples are mulittracking the same phrase to get a big thick sound (sometimes with a chorus pedal as well which is fun), And also recording a four to eight bar loop and really trying to get harmonious orchestral sound with loads of layers of phrases at once.
The first of the features and the one which I find most interestin and inspiring is the reverse button. As you might expect it reserses the loop which you have recorded and this means it plays backwards creating a pretty strange sound. One of the first things that struck me was the fact that you could record a chord sequencs backwards and then reverse it so it went forwards but sounded completely different. Then you can layer the main riffs of your songs over the top with a pleasing effect.
The Guide feature is a little dissappointing in that it is quite a harsh sound but at least it is only a superficial sound and not part of your main loop, only a guide hence the name. To this end it functions effectively and at least you can control the tempo via the tap tempo button on the pedal face below the guide dial.
The ability to write and save phrases to the pedals memory was a feature that had originally attracted me to the pedal from a performance point of view because it meant I could record backing etc. for my songs pre performance or at the start in front of the crowd if I wanted to try to impress people. This pedal gives you the ability to save up to eleven phrases which are selectable either by a dedicated dial in the middle/rear of the pedal or by an accesory foot switch if you have one.
Another stand out feature for me was the stop mode, which gives you three ways to end the loop. They are either immediately, fade out or phrase end. Not genious I know but a good example of Boss giving you a bit more for the money you pay.
There is a loop quantise feature which autosizes loops to fit but after a bit of practise you will probably feel more comfortable turning this off and just get good at timing your starting and stopping.
Ease of use:
There is a learning curve for this pedal more than others you may have experienced which is mainly down to getting your timing right. Something that can only be done with time and practise but it shouldn't be too long before you've got this thing down including some of the harder writing operations. As far as the loop functions and overdub are concerned you can pretty much work it out from looking at the pedal but i recommend at least a glance at the manual as it it very clear and helpful in all and will save you some time in the long run to getting to the loops and sounds you can hear in your head.
Value for money:
This is a tricky point because this is a very expensive and specific piece of equipment. If you know what you want to get out of the pedal then you will enjoy it a lot for a long long time. If you are not sure try one but don't just buy on a whim because although there are a few extra features this pedal does one thing really which is loop, and I must say now that it does it well. For the money there are other pedals that can do what this does but I am secure personally in the fact that this pedal has good features and is built to last.
I would definitely recommend this product for acoustic and electric performers alike and would suggest it is more for people who write their own music than cover others. Thank you for your attention and I hope this helps you make your decision.
Phrase Recording/Sampling pedal designed for performers who want to create and play back loops during live performances. Guide Click and Loop Quantize functions for quick, easy creation of perfect loops using footpedals. Realtime Tempo Change function allows for changing recorded samples' tempo without changing pitch. Stores up to 10 looped phrases and 1 "one-shot" phrase, even after power-off