Boss RC-505 Loop Station – Review

Boss RC-505 Loop Station – Review
Boss RC-505 Top

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BOSS RC-505 Loop Station Review– based on Question/Answer format so you can skip around to what you care about.

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Boss RC-505 Top
Boss RC-505 Top

Looper Category: Type 3 (category definitions)

Target Setup: equally strong for live performance or home use

Competitive Position: The RC-505 is in the same category as the RC-300 in that it has multiple tracks and functions as an audio interface to connect with your PC/DAW. The 505 is unique in that it is meant for a table-top setup (not foot controlled). Perhaps the most similar product to the RC-505 (besides other Boss loop stations) is the TC Helicon Voicelive Touch 2 (VLT2). Here is a quick comparison:

RC-505 advantages over VLT2:

  • More user-friendly with large buttons and Boss’s innovative circular LED indicators for each track. VLT2 has a touch screen, which can be a little tougher to manage.
  • The 505 has much longer recording time than the VLT2 (3 hrs vs 42 second divided by six tracks).
  • The 505 has permanent memory storage so that you can quickly capture songs and then come back to them without needing to plug in your PC. The VLT2 does not have the on-board memory.
  • I believe the RC-505 has a 5 yr warranty compared to the VLT2 3 yr warranty. However TC Helicon supports that in several countries and is very clear about the terms. The Boss warranty is a little less clear (see Warranty section of this review, below).

VLT2 advantages over RC-505:

  • Clips onto a mic stand, perfect for a singer. The RC-505 is physically large and sits on a desktop.
  • Incredible FX, like harmony … again perfect for a singing performance
  • Six looping tracks. RC505 only has five.
  • The VLT2 is less expensive. You can find it for between $400-$500. RC-505 sells between $500-$530.
  • The VLT2 seems to have better tech support from TC Helicon than what you get from Boss/Roland.

Warranty: I believe that Roland offers a 5-yr warranty on parts and 2-yr on labor for the RC-505. However, please confirm with Boss. They show the 5-year warranty “tile” on the official RC-505 webpage. However, in the description it says that 5yr warranty applies to “BOSS compact and Twin pedals”. I’m not sure if RC-505 fits in that category. Also, this warranty is only valid for purchases in the United States. Please check with your local distributor if you are in another country. I will work to get more clarity on this…

  • What is the price I should expect to pay for the BOSS RC-505 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-505?
    • The main function of the RC-505 is looping with a table-top (hand-controlled) setup. It includes many looping features, and also includes five loop tracks, stereo looping, and effects. The RC-505 is meant to have every looping feature that a musician would want. An important feature that the RC-505 includes is a high-speed USB connection that allows audio interface functionality with the PC. This enables you to record your music directly onto a PC if you want to create YouTube videos or something similar.
  • Can I record sound, continuously play a loop of that recording, and then layer additional tracks over the loop/phrase with the BOSS RC505?
    • Yes, on each of the five channels (or tracks) on the RC-505 you have basic looper functionality with unlimited overdub, controlled via push-button. The process is to press one of the large round play/record buttons for one of the tracks to begin recording, press again to begin to overdub (layer additional sound) and then press a third time to just loop play what is recorded on that track. You can press the separate stop button to obviously stop the playback. Also, when you press a new track button (for example, you were playing something on track 1 and you pressed track 2) then the previous track will go into playback mode while the new track goes into record mode.
  • How long can I record with the BOSS RC-505?
    • The RC-505 can record 3 hours of stereo sound. You can also back up files via USB onto your PC to free up memory.
  • How many memory locations (slots) are included in the BOSS RC-505?
    • The RC-505 has 99 slots, BOSS calls them patches or phrase memory.
  • Using the BOSS RC-505, 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-505 has tempo control, where you can slow down or speed up the music and it’s a good way to learn a new song. However, it’s the type of tempo controller where you tap the button at the tempo you want to change to. I’d prefer the tempo slider (like the EHX 45000 has).
  • Can I practice soloing with the BOSS RC-505?
    • Yes, you can lay down your own rhythm tracks and then play over the top of them, or you can use one of the 5 pre-loaded sample tracks. Or you can use the 1/8” Aux Input or the USB input to play a song through the RC-505 and then practice soloing over that. Or… you could solo over the 85 pre-loaded drum patterns.
  • Can I use the BOSS RC-505 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 recordings before you will need to upload them onto your PC.
  • Can I switch to a different loop/slot while performing with the BOSS RC-505?
    • Yes you can switch between the five loop tracks while performing or play them in parallel, or a combination of serial and parallel. Also, with the help of an optional footswitch you can switch between memory phrases. Just be aware that if you switch away from a memory slot without saving it, you will lose the recording.
  • Can I perform loop-to-loop queuing with the BOSS RC-505?
    • Yes, you can perform loop to loop queuing between tracks or between memory slots.
  • Can I switch back to the previous loop while performing with the BOSS RC-505 (save on the fly, or save while playing live)?
    • If you need to switch back and forth between loops, then you ideally do so within a single memory slot/phrase. Or you could pre-record and save onto two memory slots and then switch back and forth with a foot controller. However, you cannot save the recording into a memory slot while it’s playing live.
  • With the BOSS RC-505, 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)?
    • Yes, you could achieve this song progression live with the five loop tracks on the RC-505.
  • Can I go from recording directly into overdub with the BOSS RC-505?
    • Yes, you can go directly into overdub with the RC-505.
  • Can I undo/redo the last overdub to change the song or eliminate a recording error with the BOSS RC-505?
    • With the RC-505, 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-505?
    • No – 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-505.
  • Can I adjust the volume or effects of individual overdubs with the BOSS RC-505?
    • Yes – There are individual volume controls for the playback levels of the five tracks that make up each memory slot. Also, there are individual level controls for the three inputs (and FX controls on those inputs).
  • Can I record individual overdubs/layers as individual WAV files with the BOSS RC-505 to then work with in a DAW?
    • With the RC-505, you can save each track as an individual WAV file. Therefore, you could save off one sound layer at a time on track 2, for example, while track 1 plays the rhythm.
  • Can I use the 1/8” AUX input to play song into the looper and incorporate it into my loop with the BOSS RC-505?
    • 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-505 as loops and then trigger them with the footswitch when needed?
    • Yes, the RC-505 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-505? 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-505. This is controlled via a track setting called “1Shot”. It can be used to retrigger the start of the loop with each tap.
  • Can I play multiple loops simultaneously with the BOSS RC-505, 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 use the five tracks within a single phrase memory to accomplish this. This can result in very interesting live performances.
  • Can I play a loop or overdub in reverse with the BOSS RC-505?
    • Yes, there is a track setting that will allow the track to place in reverse when triggered.
  • Does the BOSS RC-505 have stereo sound or just mono?
    • The RC-505 has stereo sound.
  • Is there anything in the BOSS RC 505 that reduces the clicking sound that can occur when tapping the footswitch during overdub?
    • Not that we are aware of, but these buttons will not make a clicking sound.
  • Is the BOSS RC-505 a good looper for live performances on stage?
    • Yes the RC-505 is good for any use you would need from a loop station. The RC-505 has the multi-track functionality and enough effects to make a live performance interesting (including the ability to perform/create a verse-chorus-bridge format live). Unlike other loopers that can do that, it has a lot of storage and the ability to hook up to your PC. This makes it great for all the home uses like composing new songs, editing, porting to a DAW, composition, practicing, learning and video performances.
  • Are there multiple stop modes in the BOSS RC-505?
    • Yes, just like the RC-300, there are three modes that you can assign to a memory location’s track. It can be standard mode, fade out stop, or loop end (which plays to the end of a loop after stop pedal is pressed). This is a track setting called “Stop Mode”.
  • Can I stutter start with the BOSS RC-505?
    • Yes, you can achieve the stutter start effect in the one-shot playback mode.
  • Can I resample with the BOSS RC-505? 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?
    • The RC-505 has the ability to multiply while playing the tracks simultaneously (which is the default mode). For example, you can record a phrase with one track and then record a phrase that is twice as long on another track which will effectively multiply the number of times the first track plays before the sound repeats itself. If your tracks are not multiples of each other, then you can set the third track to be the lowest number that is divisible by both of the other tracks. For example: if you set track 1 to be 2 measures and track 2 to be 3 measures, then you would set track 3 to be 6 measures.
    • There are no other resampling-type effects on the RC-505.
  • Can the BOSS RC-505 be set to auto-record when I begin playing?
    • No, this was a rare occurrence where they removed a feature that was included on the RC300.
  • Does the BOSS RC-505 have a built in metronome?
    • There are 85 rhythm tracks/patterns that are pre-loaded into the RC-505. You can adjust the tempo and use as a metronome.
  • Is there any software that comes with the BOSS RC-505?
    • There are drivers that you can download to get the RC-505 interfaced to your PC via USB.
  • Is quantize functionality available on the BOSS RC-505?
    • Yes, the RC-505 operates in auto-quantize mode when either the rhythm is on, or any of the Tempo/Loop/MIDI Sync’s are on. You can also operate with quantize turned off.
  • Will the BOSS RC-505 interface with my DAW (digital audio workstation)/computer through USB?
    • The RC-505 functions as an audio interface. You set the USB to either transfer files (like most loopers do) or function as an external sound card. This is the best way to get the live sound from your looper onto your PC, especially for video (YouTube) type performance.
  • Will the BOSS RC-505 interface with my computer through USB to transfer sound files?
    • Yes, the USB port on the RC-505 can be used to transfer files.
  • Can I save and recall loops with SD card with the BOSS RC-505?
    • There is no SD card slot on the RC-505.
  • Does the BOSS RC-505 have effects (FX)?
    • Yes, the RC-505 has 21 input effects (FX) types and 25 track effects. There are three buttons to assign effects to the inputs and three buttons to assign effects to the full track. This allows you to create overdubs with unique FX and then apply some other FX to the entire mixed track. This is pretty good stuff!
  • Can I bypass the effects (FX) with the BOSS RC-505?
    • Yes, you can turn them off or turn them down.
  • Can I turn off or mute the live signal that is fed through the BOSS RC-505 (for use in parallel effects loops of an amp or in Aux Send/Return of a mixer)?
    • No – for some reason it is not available on the 505. This is available on the RC-300, as you can set the live input sound to be mute on the outputs, with the “Input Out” Phrase Memory setting. This is called “Thru Mute” by Boomerang and “Dry Defeat” by DigiTech.
  • Can I save presets for effects with the BOSS RC-505?
    • Essentially, you save the settings into a specific Phrase Memory (slot) location.
  • Does the BOSS RC-505 have an XLR mic input? Does it have phantom power for a condenser microphone?
    • Yes, the RC-505 has an XLR input, and unlike almost every other looper it DOES include phantom power.
  • Does the BOSS RC-505 function as a mixer with multiple inputs?
    • There are three audio inputs: Mic XLR, Inst 1/4” stereo/mono, and Aux 1/8”. All three can be used together.
  • Can I re-assign footswitch functionality with the BOSS RC-505?
    • The RC-505 has five track buttons. Further, you have the option to connect one additional input –expression pedal or controller footswitch. Finally, the RC-505 can connect to a MIDI device which can have eight controls per memory phrase.
  • Does the BOSS RC-505 have a headphone jack for playback and monitoring?
    • Yes, the RC-505 has a 1/4” headphone jack.
  • Can the BOSS RC-505 be connected to an external MIDI device?
    • Yes the RC-505 can connect to MIDI devices, master or slave.
  • Does BOSS release firmware updates for the RC-505?
    • Yes they do and they have already released a few.
  • Is there an optional footswitch that I can add to the BOSS RC-505 to increase functionality?
    • Yes, there is a single input to add a footswitch. Boss offers several.
      • Footswitch: FS-5U, FS-5L, FS-6, FS-7
      • Expression pedal: Roland EV-5, FV-500L, FV-500H
  • Is there an optional expressional pedal that I can add to the BOSS RC-505 to control effects(FX)?
    • Yes, you can add an expression pedal, Roland (BOSS) makes the FV-500H, the FV-500L, and the EV-5.
  • What is the sampling rate and bit depth of the A/D/A conversion?
    • For the RC-505, it is 44.1 kHz at 16-bit – at least for recording/playback.
  • Can the BOSS RC-505 be battery powered?
    • No, there is not battery powered option on the RC-505.
  • What size is the BOSS RC-505?
    • The RC-505 is a pretty large desktop unit, but it’s light. It weighs a little over 3 lbs. It’s footprint is 16.5″x 7.9″ x2.7″.
    • Also, keep in mind that the optional footswitch FS-5U is 4”x4”x2”. The FS-6 is 8”x4”x2”. The FV-500L and FV-500H are 4.375” x 11.5” x 2.875”and weigh over 3 lbs. The EV-5 is smaller, at 3.5” x 7.875” x 2.125”.
  • Why is using a BOSS RC-505 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-505 better than just using an iPhone or iPad application?
    • There is very limited functionality with the iOS based loopers compared to the BOSS RC-505. 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-505 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 detailed manual on the RC-505, and on the BOSS website there is a knowledge base that is unfortunately not organized as a forum (like many other manufacturers have). BOSS and their reps are quick to respond and help, but difficult engineering questions seem to be sent to Japan. The answers that come back are not always adequate, from what we’ve heard.
  • How long has the BOSS RC-505 been in production?
    • The RC-505 was released in April 2013. This is one of many loop station products that Roland Boss offers. However, it is the highest priced and most advanced. It is believed that the starting point of the RC-505 design was the RC-300, and then it was significantly improved.

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