Boomerang III – Looper Review

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Boomerang III Phrase Sampler (Rang III) Review– based on Question/Answer format so you can skip around to what you care about.

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Boomerang III Top View (image from BoomerangMusic.com)

Looper Category: Type 2 (category definitions)

Target Setup: live performance

Competitive Position: The Rang III is more expensive than most of the type 2 loopers. It is very well suited for live performance (perhaps the best), but is not very suitable for home use.

Warranty:1 year

Boomerang III Back Panel (image from BoomerangMusic.com)

  • What is the price I should expect to pay for the Boomerang III and how does that compare to other loopers?
    • Good question – please see our price tracker that we update regularly. Here, the various looper stations are categorized and the price is tracked over time as indicated.
  • What is the main function of the Boomerang III?
    • The main function is looping, and the focus is on live performance.
  • Can I record sound, continuously play a loop of that recording, and then layer additional tracks over the loop/phrase with the Boomerang III?
    • Yes, with the Rang III, you can actually do this with four separate loops. Most of the competing solutions only have one loop. There are four different “loop play styles” settings which allow for different uses of the four individual loops.
      •  The Serial setting allows you to play one loop at a time, good for having one loop for verse, another for chorus, etc.
      • The Serial-Sync setting allows you to mix one of the loops (the “master” loop) with the other three loops but the other three cannot mix with each other, so they behave like the Serial setting. Loop 3 is the “master” rhythm loop and the intent is for it to be a short (1 or 2 measure) percussive loop.
      • The Sync setting allows all four loops to play at once, you can take them in and out as you go along. Therefore, you could put drums on loop 1, guitar on loop 2, etc. and change up the song as you go by turning certain portions on and off. However, they are all tied to the “master” loop timing.
      • The Free setting allows all four loops to play at once, and they are completely independent. Think about it as having four individual single pedal loopers. This a common mode for the ambient music/soundscape musician.
  • How long can I record with the Boomerang III?
    • The Rang III record time depends on the A/D/A sample rate and whether you are in Mono or Stereo. The min setting is 4 minutes 23 seconds and the max setting is 34 minutes 4 seconds.
  • How many memory locations (slots) are included in the Boomerang III?
    • There is no permanent storage in the Rang III. Therefore, you need to create everything live.
  • Can I use the Boomerang III for instrument lessons? Specifically, can I slow down the tempo of a recording, work on matching the notes and then gradually speed up?
    • The Rang III tempo control does not preserve the original notes (it lowers the octave). There are better competing loopers for this type of use.
  • Can I practice soloing with the Boomerang III?
    • Yes, you can lay down your own rhythm track and then play over the top of it.
  • Can I use the Boomerang III to capture quick song ideas to review later?
    • The Rang III does not have permanent storage or a direct way to connect to a DAW, so in that regard it’s not the right device for quick idea capture. However, if you have the Rang III connected through an audio interface or mixer to a DAW, then you could record your ideas that way. The useful aspect of this particular looper is that you could create a complex song in a single take with the multiple loops (tracks) available. So, the technology barrier to the creative process is significantly lower.
  • Can I switch to a different loop/slot while performing with the Boomerang III?
    • Yes you can. You do this in either the Serial mode or the Serial-Sync mode and it’s single tap, seamless transition. However, there are no permanent memory locations where pre-saved loops could be triggered. You are just switching between up to four live loops.
  • Can I perform loop-to-loop queuing with the Boomerang III?
    • Yes you can press another loop footswitch button while a current one is playing (in Serial or Serial-Sync mode) and it will complete the loop and then switch to the next.
  • Can I switch back to the previous loop while performing with the Boomerang III?
    • Yes, and there is no need to store or save the loop before switching away from it. This is a big selling point for the Rang III over other loopers.
  • With the Boomerang III, can I record and play different parts of a song (verse, chorus, bridge) all during a live performance while not using my hands (pedals and footswitches only)?
    • That is exactly the type of thing this pedal is meant for.
  • Can I go from recording directly into overdub with the Boomerang III?
    • Yes, you need to set one of the bonus footswitch buttons to trigger the Stack mode and then you can achieve this functionality.
  • Can I undo/redo the last overdub to change the song or eliminate a recording error with the Boomerang III?
    • With the Rang III, you are able to undo and redo the last stacked sound. You must set one of the bonus footswitch buttons to trigger this functionality.
  • Can I set previous layers to go quieter or fade out while overdubbing new layers with the Boomerang III?
    • This function is called “Decay” on the Rang III, “Recorder Overdub Level” by Line 6, “Loop Aging” by Pigtronix, and “Feedback Decay” by others.  It is used to gradually or quickly transition a song without stopping or switching your ongoing loop.
  • Can I adjust the volume or effects of individual overdubs with the Boomerang III?
    • With the Rang III, there are individual volume knobs for each of the four loops. Also, there is a decay setting which can be configured to fade out older parts as new parts are stacked.
  • Can I record individual overdubs/layers as individual WAV files with the Boomerang III to then work with in a DAW?
    • With the Rang III, you cannot interface with or transfer loops to a DAW directly. However, you could connect through another device (an audio interface or a mixer). Usually those devices are between $50 and $200 (and up) but I did come across an audio interface in the $30-$40 range, recently: Behringer UCA202 (needs 1/4″ to RCA adapter though).
  • Can I use the 1/8” MP3/CD input to play song into the looper and incorporate it into my loop with the Boomerang III?
  • Can I pre-record tracks, edit them in a DAW, load them into Boomerang III as loops and then trigger them with the footswitch when needed?
    • No, you cannot load sound files onto the Rang III.
  • Can I trigger a one-shot playback (a.k.a. single phrase) with the Boomerang III? In other words, can I set the loop to only play one time when triggered?
    • Yes, this is called the “Once” function.
  • Can I play multiple loops simultaneously with the Boomerang III, and turn them on and off? For example, play drums on one track, base-line on the other, and guitar on another and bring them in and out of the song?
    • Yes, you can do this in either the Sync, Serial-Sync, or Free mode. This is the main value proposition for the Rang III.
  • Can I play a loop or overdub in reverse with the Boomerang III?
    • Yes, you can play a loop in reverse with the Rang III. You will need to assign that function to one of the bonus footswitch buttons.
  • Does the Boomerang III have stereo sound or just mono?
    • The Rang III has stereo and mono functionality.
  • Is there anything in the Boomerang III that reduces the clicking sound that can occur when tapping the footswitch during overdub?
    • Yes the Rang III has very short volume ramp down and ramp up at the loop’s boundary. This is to eliminate any sound from tapping the footswitch buttons. This can be turned off if you want to record a long continuous sound across the boundary.
  • Is the Boomerang III a good looper for live performances on stage?
    • That is exactly where you should use it. It is a fairly complicated device and requires some practice, but it’s full of live looping features, has a relatively small footprint and is reliable/stable. If you want to use it for video performance then you will need an audio interface to connect the output to the DAW. If you plan on using it to jam, learn, practice, or capture/compose then you could probably get by with a less expensive unit that is tailored towards those uses.
  • Are there multiple stop modes in the Boomerang III?
    • Yes, you can fade out any loop that is playing (or all the loops together). Also you can stop all the loops with a single press of a button.
  • Can I stutter start with the Boomerang III?
    • Yes, the Rang III can stutter start, with the ability to restart the loop with every foot tap. So you can do this rapidly to create the effect.
  • Can I resample with the Boomerang III? In other words, can I take a loop and modify it by multiplying it, cutting part of it out, adding a different effect to it, etc?
    • Yes, using the “Copy” feature and an empty loop slot you can re-sample a live loop.
    • The Rang III has the ability to multiply while in Serial-Sync or Sync mode. For example, you can record a phrase with the master loop and then record a phrase that is twice as long on one of the slave loops which will effectively multiply the number of times the master loop plays before the sound repeats itself.
  • Can the Boomerang III be set to auto-record when I begin playing?
    • No the Rang III does not have auto-record.
  • With the Boomerang III, are there any issues with droning (playing the same note, chord, repeated sounds, or tone-clusters continuously) at the boundaries of the loops – such as noticeable change in volume?
    • There can be if you do not set the stack optional feature to turn the boundary volume adjustments off. The boundary volume adjustments are there to reduce any clicking noise from pressing the footswitch buttons.
  • Does the Boomerang III have a built in metronome?
    • No the Rang III does not have a metronome.
  • Is there any software that comes with the Boomerang III?
    • No software program for your computer is available with the Rang III. As mentioned, firmware updates are made available by emailing Boomerang.
  • Is quantize functionality available on the Boomerang III?
    • Prior to software v3.0 the answer was no. However, with software V3.0 or higher, the III will quantize loops to the nearest quarter note of an external MIDI clock signal. A standard MIDI cable is required to connect the III to the clock source.
  • Will the Boomerang III interface with my DAW (digital audio workstation)/computer through USB?
    • The Rang III does not function as an audio interface, it does not have a USB or other digital audio port.
  • Will the Boomerang III interface with my computer through USB to transfer sound files?
    • The Rang III does not function as an audio interface, it does not have a USB or other digital audio port.
  • Can I save and recall loops with an SD card with the Boomerang III?
    • The Rang III does not have an option to save and recall loops with an SD card.
  • Does the Boomerang III have effects (FX)?
    • No the Rang III does not have internal effects (FX).
  • Can I bypass the effects (FX) with the Boomerang III?
    • This is not applicable for the Rang III.
  • Can I turn off or mute the live signal that is fed through the Boomerang III (for use in parallel effects loops of an amp or in Aux Send/Return of a mixer)?
    • Yes, this function is controlled via button and is called “Thru Mute”.  If you do not use this function, you may have sound quality (phasing) issues. Other loopers call this “Dry Defeat”.
  • Can I save presets for effects with the Boomerang III?
    • This is not applicable for the Rang III.
  • Does the Boomerang III have an XLR mic input? Does it have phantom power for a condenser microphone?
    • No the Rang III does not have an XLR mic input.
  • Does the Boomerang III function as a mixer with multiple inputs?
    • No, the only mixing function is the way it can mix multiple loop tracks with each other. However, other loopers allow the mixing of multiple inputs, and the Rang III only has one mono/stereo 1/4” input channel.
  • Can I re-assign footswitch functionality with the Boomerang III?
    • The Rang III has five footswitch buttons, two of which can take on multiple functions. Buttons 1-3 are assigned to Loops 1-3. Buttons 4 and 5 are bonus for function assignment. You can add Loop 4 functionality to one of the bonus buttons. You can also purchase the Boomerang Side Car, which adds an additional five footswitch buttons. There are dedicated Stack, Play-Stop All, and Erase/Erase All buttons, along with two additional bonus buttons.
  • Does the Boomerang III have a headphone jack for playback and monitoring?
    • There is no dedicated 1/8” headphone jack. There is only a single 1/4” output pair for stereo/mono.
  • Can the Boomerang III be connected to an external MIDI device?
    • The Rang III does have MIDI ports. Currently the only use is for connection of the optional Side Car (which adds five footswitch buttons). In the v3.0 software release in Feb 2012, they added syncing to an external MIDI clock.
  • Does Boomerang release firmware updates for the Rang III?
    • Yes they do. Version 3.2 was recently released in Dec 2013 and includes “brother sync”, the ability to sync multiple Rang III’s with NO MIDI clock. V3.3 will come out in 4-6 weeks and has an improved MIDI clock sync algorithm.
  • Is there an optional footswitch that I can add to the Boomerang III to increase functionality?
    • You can also purchase the Boomerang Side Car, which adds an additional five footswitch buttons. There are dedicated Stack, Play-Stop All, and Erase/Erase All buttons, along with two additional bonus buttons. With a Side Car controller, you can have 3 loops and ALL Rang III functions can be assigned to a foot button. Or you can have 4 loops and have all but 1 or 2 of the functions active.
  • Is there an optional expressional pedal that I can add to the Boomerang III to control effects(FX)?
    • Yes, you can connect any expression pedal that uses a stereo cable (TRS) or a passive volume pedal (if you use an insert cable) to the Rang III. The pedal will control either the volume of the loop or the decay rate (previous loops get quieter as you record additional layers).
  • What is the sampling rate and bit depth of the A/D/A conversion?
    • For the Rang III, the sample rate is either 48 or 24 kHz  (controlled via button); 20-bit.  The through signal is always sampled at 48KHz with 24 bits.
  • Can the Boomerang III be battery powered?
    • No there are no battery options for the Boomerang III. However, some people have reported using a Duracell Powerpack 600 for street performances. 
  • How is the warranty for the Boomerang III?
    • The Rang III has a standard 1 year warranty through Boomerang.
  • What size is the Boomerang III?
    • The Rang III footprint is 9” x 6” x 2” and weighs 3 lbs. The Side Car is 9” x 6” x 2”. We are not aware of any looper that has more foot-controlled functionality in a smaller physical footprint.
  • Why is using a Boomerang III better than just using computer software? Or why should I use a stompbox looper instead of something that is software based?
    • Ease of use – when you have a looper pedal setup, you just sit down and play (just like picking up an instrument). This makes spontaneous fifteen minute jam sessions happen all the time.
    • Control and reliability – especially during a live performance. Has your PC ever frozen or started running slow all of a sudden? There are a lot of processes that can occur in a computer that are unrelated to your music, and you may not have control over all of them.
    • Ability to interface hands-free with a dedicated stompbox/pedal/footswitch
    • The software usually has a much steeper learning curve. Nothing puts me out of the music-playing mood faster than trying to figure out how to work with the recording software and getting stuck on something.
    • If you managed to setup a reliable, hands-free computer based system then it’s still difficult to go on stage and have the performance feel “live”. People are used to seeing pedals on stage, but once you bring out your laptop then it starts feeling like a DJ performance. Nothing wrong with that, for some.
  • Why is using a Boomerang III better than just using an iPhone or iPad application?
    • There is very limited functionality with the iOS based loopers compared to the Boomerang III. However, these apps are quickly improving. With added hardware (microphone, Bluetooth control pedal, etc.), these setups may start to look attractive. Please see our iOS app setup information.
    • With regards to live performances, bringing an iPad or iPhone on stage may feel more like a DJ performance, but it’s not going as far as bringing a laptop. Also, the OS may be more predictable and stable compared to an entire computer or workstation. Therefore, we think that iOS based loopers will be more stage-friendly than laptops, but not as stage-friendly as pedals/stompboxes in the foreseeable future.
  • What company makes the Boomerang III and where are they located?
    • Boomerang Musical Products, Ltd. is headquartered in Grapevine, TX. They are a small operation with only a few products listed on their website. Public information is very limited, but our impression is that this is a company of only a few people, very talented people. After contacting Boomerang, I learned they are a company of mainly four individuals with responsibilities split as follows: business & communications, pedal building & shipping, product development (electronics), product development (software).
  • How is the support from Boomerang on any issues that arise with the unit?
    • There is a well-written manual for the Rang III. Also, because this is a small operation you are able to interface with the creators of the product directly. Sometimes they get busy when working on a new product, but they clearly care about their customer base and are fair in resolving issues, from our perspective.
  • How long has the Boomerang III been in production?
    • According to an online forum, pre-production units became available in August 2009. However, we believe the original Boomerang entered the market in 1995. The full history of products is as follows: The Rang Plus was released around 2001, the Chorus*Delay in about 2007, the III in 2009, the Side Car controller in Jul 2011 and the Wholly Roller volume/expression pedal in Aug 2013.

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