BOSS RC-3 – Looper Review

BOSS RC-3 – Looper Review
BOSS RC-3 - Top (image from

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BOSS RC-3 Review – based on Question/Answer format so you can skip around to what you care about. Feel free to post questions or answers below the review.

BOSS RC-3 - Top
BOSS RC-3 – Top
(image from

Looper Category: Type 1 (category definitions)

Target Setup: jamming/practice/composition

Competitive Position: The price of the RC-3 is comparable to the JamMan Solo XT, but we see no advantage of the RC-3 over the Solo XT. Therefore, this unit’s pricing is expected to come down.

Warranty: 5 years on parts, 2 years on labor


  • What is the price I should expect to pay for the BOSS RC-3 and how does that compare to other loopers?
    • 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 BOSS RC-3?
    • The main function of the RC-3 is looping. It includes some looping features, but does not branch into other functionality (like adding FX). It is meant to be highly simplified.


  • Can I record sound, continuously play a loop of that recording, and then layer additional tracks over the loop/phrase with the BOSS RC-3?
    • Yes, the RC-3 has basic looper functionality with unlimited overdub, controlled via footswitch. The process is to start recording, then < press pedal> to switch to overdub mode, then every time you press the pedal it will alternate between playback and overdub modes. You can continue to add layers or to stop the playback.


  • How long can I record with the BOSS RC-3?
    • The RC-3 can record 3 hours. You can also back up files via USB onto your PC to free up memory. Also, the minimum record time is 1.5 seconds.
  • How many memory locations (slots) are included in the BOSS RC-3?
    • The RC-3 has 99 slots.
  • Using the BOSS RC-3, can I learn by having an instrument teacher play something and then slow it down and work on matching the notes and gradually speeding up?
    • Yes, the RC-3 has tempo control, where you can slow down or speed up the music and it’s a good way to learn a new song.
  • Can I practice soloing with the BOSS RC-3?
    • Yes, you can lay down your own rhythm tracks and then play over the top of them, or you can use one of the 10 pre-loaded demo tracks. Or you can use the 1/8” Aux Input to play a song through the RC-30 and then practice soloing over that.
  • Can I use the BOSS RC-3 to capture quick song ideas to review later?
    • Yes, this is a good device for that and can store up to 3 hrs of your music or essentially unlimited if you back up your tracks to your PC via USB.
  • Can I switch to a different loop/slot while performing with the BOSS RC-3?
    • Yes you can, and you can accomplish this hands-free only if you purchase an optional footswitch (FS-6 or two FS-5U’s).
  • Can I perform loop-to-loop queuing with the BOSS RC-3?
    • Yes, the RC-3 has this feature, but is only practical when using the optional footswitch (FS-6 or two FS-5U’s). Loop-to-loop queuing is when you are playing a current loop/slot and you switch to the next loop/slot without stopping the current. Then, when the current loop completes a playing cycle it automatically switches to the new loop you have selected.


  • Can I switch back to the previous loop while performing with the BOSS RC-3?
    • This function is not very practical in a live setting with the RC-3. If you want to switch to another memory location, you will need to save the loop prior to switching or you will lose it. This is done by pressing the “Write” button twice by hand. However, you can’t save unless the playback is stopped. So, you would need a section of your song that isn’t reliant on the looper. Also, be aware that there is a slight delay that occurs when switching from one slot to another.
  • With the BOSS RC-3, 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)?
    • Theoretically you could but you would need to save any loop if you wanted to come back to it later in the song, which you can’t do while it’s playing. Also, you have to deal with the delay when switching from loop to loop. It’s not a great option for that type of performance.
  • Can I go from recording directly into overdub with the BOSS RC-3?
    • Yes, you can go directly into overdub with the RC-3. The default progression of the single pedal when you press it multiple times is Record à Overdub à Playback.
  • Can I undo/redo the last overdub to change the song or eliminate a recording error with the BOSS RC-3?
    • With the RC-3, you are able to undo the last overdub and also redo the last undo.
  • Can I set previous layers to go quieter or fade out while overdubbing new layers with the BOSS RC-3?
    • This function is called “Decay” by Boomerang, “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. However, it is not available on the RC-3.
  • Can I adjust the volume or effects of individual overdubs with the BOSS RC-3?
    • There are two inputs that can be recorded together with the RC-3 – the Aux 1/8” input and the stereo 1/4” input pair. However, they do not have individual volume control knobs.
  • Can I record individual overdubs/layers as individual WAV files with the BOSS RC-3 to then work with in a DAW?
    • With the RC-3, we are not aware of any method for individually recording overdubs/layers.
  • Can I use the 1/8” AUX input to play song into the looper and incorporate it into my loop with the BOSS RC-3?
    • Yes you could use the AUX input to record from your MP3 player, for example, with the looper.
  • Can I pre-record tracks, edit them in a DAW, load them into the BOSS RC-3 as loops and then trigger them with the footswitch when needed?
    • Yes, the RC-3 is set up to take WAV files via USB. The loop file format is 44.1kHz, 16-bit stereo.
  • Can I trigger a one-shot playback (a.k.a. single phrase) with the BOSS RC-3? In other words, can I set the loop to only play one time when triggered?
    • Yes, this single phrase functionality is available on the RC-3. This is controlled by holding down the Tap Tempo button while saving the phrase.
  • Can I play multiple loops simultaneously with the BOSS RC-3, 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?
    • The only way you could partially accomplish this with the RC-3 is with the undo redo functionality, and it would be very limited.
  • Can I play a loop or overdub in reverse with the BOSS RC-3?
    • No, there is no reverse function in the RC-3.
  • Does the BOSS RC-3 have stereo sound or just mono?
    • The RC-3 has stereo sound.


  • Is there anything in the BOSS RC-3 that reduces the clicking sound that can occur when tapping the footswitch during overdub?
    • Not that we are aware of, but pedals are typically quieter than footswitch press buttons. However, it could still be an issue.
  • Is the BOSS RC-3 a good looper for live performances on stage?
    • The RC-3 could be used for on-stage performance.  You could use it for very basic looping features. The advantages are that it’s compact and could be battery powered. That being said, we think the RC-3 is better for home use. We like this model’s functionality for composing new songs, editing, porting to a DAW, practicing, learning and video performances. The price point is good for an entry level looper.
  • Are there multiple stop modes in the BOSS RC-3?
    • No, unlike most looper stations on the market, the RC-3 does not have alternative stop modes.
  • Can I stutter start with the BOSS RC-3?
    • No, we are not aware of any way to stutter start with the RC-3 unless you add those effects to a WAV file within your DAW and then import via USB.
  • Can I resample with the BOSS RC-3? 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?
    • No the RC-3 does not have multiply or any other resampling functionality.
  • Can the BOSS RC-3 be set to auto-record when I begin playing?
    • Yes the RC-3 has auto-record.
  • With the BOSS RC-3, 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?
    • We have not experienced or heard of an issue with droning using the RC-3.
  •  Does the BOSS RC-3 have a built in metronome?
    • There are ten rhythm tracks that are pre-loaded into the RC-3. You can adjust the tempo and use as a metronome.
  • Is there any software that comes with the BOSS RC-3?
    • No, there is no PC software that is made available specifically for the BOSS looper pedals.
  • Is quantize functionality available on the BOSS RC-3?
    • Yes, the RC-3 operates in auto-quantize mode while a Rhythm track is playing.
  • Will the BOSS RC-3 interface with my DAW (digital audio workstation)/computer through USB?
    • The RC-3 does not function as an audio interface. The USB is only used to transfer the loop files, not stream the audio output to the DAW.
  • Will the BOSS RC-3 interface with my computer through USB to transfer sound files?
    • Yes, the USB port on the RC-3 is used to transfer files. Many other loopers on the market do not have this functionality.
  • Can I save and recall loops with SD card with the BOSS RC-3?
    • There is no SD card slot on the RC-3.
  • Does the BOSS RC-3 have effects (FX)?
    • No the RC-3 does not have built-in effects (FX).
  • Can I bypass the effects (FX) with the BOSS RC-3?
    • No, this is not applicable to the RC-3 because the unit does not have internal effects.
  • Can I turn off or mute the live signal that is fed through the BOSS RC-3 (for use in parallel effects loops of an amp or in Aux Send/Return of a mixer)?
    • No, there is no way to mute the live signal.  This may cause sound quality (phasing) issues when used in parallel effects loops or send/return aux of a mixer.
  • Can I save presets for effects with the BOSS RC-3?
    • No, this is not applicable to the RC-3 because the unit does not have internal effects.
  • Does the BOSS RC-3 have an XLR mic input? Does it have phantom power for a condenser microphone?
    • No, the RC-3 does not have an XLR input.
  • Does the BOSS RC-3 function as a mixer with multiple inputs?
    • Not really. There are two audio inputs:  1/4” stereo pair and Aux 1/8”. However, you can’t control any individual parameters like volume.
  • Can I re-assign footswitch functionality with the BOSS RC-3?
    • The function of the single foot pedal can be changed in that you switch the order of record/overdub/playback that is triggered by successive taps of the pedal. There are two settings: record/overdub/playback (default) and record/playback/overdub.
  • Does the BOSS RC-3 have a headphone jack for playback and monitoring?
    • No the RC-3 does not have a dedicated headphone jack.
  • Can the BOSS RC-3 be connected to an external MIDI device?
    • No the RC-3 does not have MIDI ports.
  • Does DigiTech release firmware updates for the RC-3?
    • Yes they do.
  • Is there an optional footswitch that I can add to the BOSS RC-3 to increase functionality?
    • Yes, you can either add one FS-5U, two FS-5U’s, or one FS-6. One FS-5U will allow a quick stop function, hands-free tempo control, and a memory clearing function. The two FS-5U’s function just like one FS-6. The functionality is memory slot shift.
  • Is there an optional expressional pedal that I can add to the BOSS RC-3 to control effects(FX)?
    • No, there is not a way to connect an expression pedal to the RC-3.
  • What is the sampling rate and bit depth of the A/D/A conversion?
    • For the RC-3, it is 44.1 kHz at 16-bit – at least for recording/playback.
  • Can the BOSS RC-3 be battery powered?
    • Yes, it can use a 9V alkaline battery.
  • How is the warranty for the BOSS RC-3?
    • According to the Roland US site, the warranty is 5 years on parts and 2 years for labor on compact and twin pedals.
  • What size is the BOSS RC-3?
    • The RC-3 is compact. It weighs 1 lb. It’s footprint is 2.875” x 5.125” and is 2.375” tall. Also, keep in mind that the optional footswitch FS-5U is 4”x4”x2”. The FS-6 is 8”x4”x2”.
  • Why is using a BOSS RC-3 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 BOSS RC-3 better than just using an iPhone or iPad application?
    • There is very limited functionality with the iOS based loopers compared to the BOSS RC-3. 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 BOSS RC-3 and where are they located?
    • BOSS is located in Los Angeles, CA. They are owned by Roland Corporation, which is based in Tokyo, Japan and is publicly held.
  • How is the support from BOSS on any issues that arise with the unit?
    • There is a main manual on the RC-3, along with an addendum. There is also a very short playing guide. Through the BOSS website, there is a limited knowledge base that is not organized as a forum (like many other manufacturers have). BOSS and their reps are quick to respond and help, but difficult engineering questions are sent to Japan. The answers that come back are not always everything you need, from what we’ve heard.


  • How long has the BOSS RC-3 been in production?
    • According to this press release, the RC-3 began shipping, along with the RC-30, in May 2011. These devices are successors to the RC-2 and RC-20XL. The RC-20XL was released on J uly 2004 (press release) as a successor to the RC-20, which was the original BOSS looper released January 2001 (press release).  The RC-2 was released in July 2006 (press release). BOSS also began shipping the RC-300 in December 2011, which is probably the most feature-packed (and most expensive) looper station on the market (press release). That was a follow up to the RC-50, which began shipment in January 2006 (press release).

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