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Boss RC-50 Review

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by Swimming Bird, Dec 31, 2006.

  1. Swimming Bird

    Swimming Bird

    Apr 18, 2006
    Wheaton MD
    I picked up a Boss RC-50 loop station as a late birthday/late Chanukah present and managed to talk my way down to $440, which I think is a pretty good price. Sadly, my favorite local store, Chuck Levin's Washington Music Center was sold out and, being impatient, I bought it from my local GC who beat Chuck's price without even attempting to double check (I sense some vitriol there...)

    Anywayif I loved the RC-20xl, I am in love with the RC-50. It's pretty much three RC-20xls but with more features/controls/etc.

    It controls very differently though and isn't exactly a plug-'n'-play loop station -- there is some menu surfing to get the options you want, but this seems to be far easier than having button combos or hundreds of knobs and switches. Kudos to Boss for making this behemoth workable.

    The drum sounds are actually really good too. Not just quarter-note beats this time either; it has a bunch of different styles and time signatures for those of us who don't have enough money left to get a real drum machine.

    My only issue so far is that it acts a bit like an inexperienced player: when a loop is already going and you've just hit play on a newly created loop, it doesn't start right away but then plays the notes faster until it catches up to where it is supposed to be. This is really disconcerting, especially if you're not 100% that the loop timing is correct. I may not be quite used to the system yet, but it sounds like 'loop quantize' is always on... It's also fairly hard to match up loops and requires a good ear + good timing.

    Sound quality is superb and clystal clear. There is absolutely no coloring. The master volume is a nice touch that isn't on the RC-20xl, though is obviously needed on the 50.

    Overall, the RC-50 is a great machine and I would suggest it for any other looping enthusiasts as well as those who play ambient, experimental/noise, etc. As far as guilty plessures go, DIY techno is more fun than it has any right to be...
  2. The BurgerMeister

    The BurgerMeister musician.

    Apr 13, 2006
    Big Bear, CA
    good review! thanks!

    i must say, i was slightly intimidated by the thing before i sat down and used it. all those buttons and knobs and flashing lights... but it's actually quite easy to get around! i don't have one of these yet... but i'm thinking of picking one up in the future, for sure.

    hey swimmingbird, please be sure to update if you get the whole "inexperienced player" thing figured out...

    thanks again!
  3. Swimming Bird

    Swimming Bird

    Apr 18, 2006
    Wheaton MD

    Had some more time to figure out this monster and found out a few interesting things.

    1. Minimum loop time is about 1.5 sec, so that may account for some weirdness.

    2. In the modes I've been using (multiple phrase mode, loops non-synced) loop quantize is automatic and cannot be disengaged after the first loop is set, even if the tap tempo is disabled.

    What this means is that the RC-50 disables some means at getting at extreme weirdness in favor of allowing a bigger fudge factor for less-than-precise loopistas.

    Combine that with an imperfect tempo recognizer and I got some frustrating moments this morning. I'm going to contact Boss to see if they will make/already have made a software upgrade that allows one to disable tap tempo.

    Being more considerate of these rules, my earlier "inexperienced player" issue has diminished, but not gone away entirely. However, there is still a short time gap between when I start the loop and when it actually plays (though it does skip ahead in time so the loop is where it should be).

    Note: For all of my bitching & moaning, I may have a faulty unit -- my RC-50 crashed this morning, but seems to work alright after turning it off then on again.
  4. Thanks for the review. That problem seems to affect alot of people. I think you can turn off the tap tempo and sync funtions then save it as a patch setting, then you won't have that time delay. But the use for Midi and tap tempo loops is very weak if it can't use the sync function with out a delay.

    Anybody tried slaving one to a drum machine yet? I just ordered a Boomerang instead, I think my next looper will be the EDP.
  5. Swimming Bird

    Swimming Bird

    Apr 18, 2006
    Wheaton MD
    Partial fix: Roland offers a software update that mostly fixes my issues. The RC-50 is set for the tempo guide (even with the guide off) to be the main cue for when a loop starts, which seems very useful for syncing it with other devices, but not so great for live looping. The fix lets you have a mode which has the sound as the priority, completely eliminating the problem on the first loop.

    It seems the "inexperienced player" issue is still there and is a function of loop quantize which is always on for later phrases.

    Oh, I tried the Boomerang, and I fealt that the RC-20xl beats it hands down. As annoyed as I am with these flaws in the RC-50, it is still a magnificent beast.
  6. I agree that the RC20Xl sounds better, I have one also. But the two loops, and feedback control is what I was interested in. I think the Boomerang is really oriented towards live use with a drummer. For bass the lack of high end definition wont' bother me to much. My boomerang arrives tomorrow, I know they have a new one for the spring, but I just couldn't wait anymore.

    I am glad to hear they are continuing to work out the bugs. I think they need two processors or something. If you get a chance could you hook it up to a midi drum machine as master and see how it performs? I said slave in the previous post but I meant master. I am still considering buying one later.
  7. MF sent a RC50 instead of a boomerang! I decided to try it out and boy am I glad I did. It works great!:hyper:

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