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Boss RC 505 MK2 Loop Station Review: Is This The Best Looper in 2022?!

Is the Boss RC 505 MK2 worth it? We investigate whether it's the best looper...

The Boss RC 505 MK2 loop station ain’t just any old looper.

It’s a loop station that (we think) improves on a winning formula. Call it the rightful successor to the original, which when it was released over 8 years ago, made the art of looping so much more accessible. In which case, with the RC 505 now receiving its long awaited facelift – what’s changed?

Judge the MK2 on appearance and your answer would likely be “not much”. To look at, the RC 505 MK2 is virtually the same as the MK1 on which its based. But don’t let that fool you into thinking that it’s just a recycled MK1 with ‘MK2’ scribbled on in crayon. Oh no! Be so naive as to think that and you’d be missing out on a whole host of new features and workflow hacks. Let’s just say that Roland (the brains behind the RC 505) have made the MK2 so much more capable.

Comapred to the MK1, we really do think it’s agiant step forward. Then again, after an 8-year wait, it should be! Only question is, has this step been in the right direction? Or have Roland turned the RC 505 from a specialist piece of production equipment, into nothing more than a cheesy gimmick? Read on & we’ll reveal uncover why the Boss RC 505 MK2 is the best looper you can buy + outline it’s various quirks & features…

After something specific about the Boss RC 505 MK2 loop station? Or just curious as to whether we think the Boss RC 505 is the best looper? Use the menu below to track down all the answers you need, fast…

Boss RC 505 MK2 loop station specs

Before pitting the Boss RC 505 MK2 up against its predecessor + its other rivals, we though it best to give you the full lowdown of the Boss RC 505 MK2 specs. That way you can continue to read this article with a good understanding of what the the MK2 is, plus some of it’s quirks and features that you perhaps didn’t know about.

Vital information if you’re looking to make a fair comparison and come to a n educated decision. The last thing you want is to get the wrong impression of the MK2, only to be disappointed when it turns up on your doorstep. So with that in mind, here’s a speedy rundown of what you can expect from the Boss RC 505 MK2 loop station…

Key details

  • Weight: 1.8kg
  • Dimensions: 420mm x 234mm x 67mm
  • AD/DA conversion: 32bit
  • Number of tracks: 5 + Bounce Mode
  • Sampling Frequency: 44.1 kHz
  • In-built phantom power: Yes
  • Max recording time: 1.5 hours/ All memories = 13 hours

Additional features

  • The Boss RC 505 MKII features a whopping 99 phase memories, which are all accessible via USB. This means that you can record specific loops to certain slots and then with a simple USB connection, import these into your DAW, independently or as one. Nice flexibility to have!
  • There’s over 200 rhythm types built into the Boss RC 505 MK2 looper. All of which makes switching up your loops and achieving the right vibe fast, easier than ever before! Greater freedom over your sound like this, never goes a miss.
  • The amount of outputs on the Boss 505 MK2 is nothing short of insane. You get 2 XLR mic inputs with phantom power,2 sets of stereo inputs + 6 outputs including USB type B & midi! All of which give you greater flexibility for when creating loops, as well as during live performance.
  • The 505 MK2 has 10 assignable buttons that come with 2 banks each. So that’s a whopping 20 effects that you can have at your disposal at any given moment. We’d always suggest putting any commonly effects on these buttons, although in terms of preparing for a live performance, they can work wonders too. Program the buttons before you perform & your whole performance should be (A) a lot smoother and (B) a lot faster.
  • The MK2 comes with an updated LCD display that gives you greater control over the loops you produce. For those who have a lot of loops on the go, a clear display like this is essential!
  • The Boss RC 505 MK2 also allows you to create something called marker points. Think of these as like saving your progress in a video game. Build up a range of overdubs, then create a marker point, and at any given time you can come back to it should you add one too many overdubs or loose your vibe. An useful timesaver that can go a long way towards streamlining your workflow.
  • Get your hands on an RC 505 MK2 and you’ll also find that it comes with real-time time-stretch. A feature that allows you to change the tempo of the audio (in real-time) without changing its pitch. Very clever!

What can the Boss RC 505 do? Here’s a clip of it in action…

Before getting to grips with the Boss RC 505 MK2, it’d be wise to have an understanding of just what a Boss loop station can enable you to do. Let’s just say that if you’re into sound design, this is one extremely useful piece of kit.

Aside from functioning as a production tool, you can also use a Boss looper for a live performance. Don’t believe us? Similar Boss loopers have been used by the likes of Ed Sheeran, KT Tunstall and Tash Sultana for the exact purpose of performing live. Heck, Ed even had his own looper pedal custom designed by Roland! However, when it comes to the Boss 505, we think you’ll struggle to top the work of Reinhardt Buhr – arguably one of the best loopers on the planet today!

Interested to see how Reinhardt factors the Boss 505 into his live performance? Check out his overdubbing in action below…

YouTube video

Boss RC 505 MK2 VS Boss RC 505 MK1: what’s the difference?

With the newest Boss RC 500 sporting the ‘MK2’ prefix at the end of its name, you’re probably curious as to how it differs to the original. As you’d expect, with the launch of the MK2, the price of the original RC 505 is starting to drop. Therefore, to identify which version is best for you, you first need to get to grips with the difference between the two.

That way if the MK1 is all you really need, then you can save yourself a tidy bit of cash. Likewise, if you’d benefit from the MK2’s extra features (of which there’s quite a few), then you can be sure you’re buying a looper that’s fit for purpose. So without further ado, let’s get into it – our rundown of the differences between the Boss RC 505 MK2 & its predecessor, the MK1…

  • Recording time has increased… MASSIVELY! Originally, the RC 505 gave you a decent 3 hours of recording time. However the MK2 extends that to a whopping 13 hours!!
  • Another major difference between the Boss RC 505 MK2 & the MK1 is the sound engine. With the MK2, this has been upgraded to 32bit, which we feel addresses the criticisms the MK1 received over the sound you put in, not sounding the same when it came out. The MK2 is a lot more truthful device.
  • As you’d expect with a new loop station, the RC 505 MK2 loop station comes with a whole bunch of new rhythms & effects. More on these later…
  • Turn your attention to the front of the MK2 and you’ll see that the track sliders have increased somewhat in length. All of which gives you as the player, greater command over your overdubs!
  • Inputs are one of the most noticeable changes. With the RC 505 MK2, you basically get every input you had on the MK1 & then some. See above for the full specs! Hooking external hardware to the MK2 is a total breeze
  • The MK2 gives you a larger LCD screen than you got with the MK1, yet again allowing you to have more control over your sound + making it easier to select effects/ loops & navigate the device at speed.
  • The screen on the RC 505 MK2 looper is also far easier to control. There’s 4 knobs to do so under the screen, opposed to the single knob you got with the original. The transport controls are so much more intuitive!
  • You get no shortage of assignable switches with the MK2. There’s 10, each of which have two banks, allowing for 20 programmable effects! Numbers that you don’t get with the original 505!!
  • With the MK1, 5 tracks was your lot. Whereas with the MK2, you get access to something called bounce mode! A feature that allows you to combine the audio of multiple tracks onto 1 single track, so that you can can make room for even more overdubs.
  • In comparison to the MK1, the RC 505 MK2 comes with a whole host more input and output effects. The MK2 gives you A-D for both in & out, while the MK1 gave you just A-C. You can also specify on which inputs these effects are added too. Another nice touch!
  • The MK2 even allows you to customise headphone output, so that you can monitor individual tracks. A nice touch that we’re almost certain the MK1 wasn’t packing.
  • Our personal favourite addition to the MK2 are marker points. These are essentially more precise versions of the Undo/ Redo function you had with the MK1. Essentially bookmarks that you can return to, should your mix end up going down the wrong track. Very handy!
  • A slightly more controversial difference here. With the MK1, there was an SD card slot, allowing you to expand the level of storage. Whereas with the MK2, this has been rather cleverly gotten rid of. A slight disappointment considering the severe jump in overall recording time.
  • Lovers of midi foot controllers rejoice – the RC 505 MK2 can now be mapped to work with these types of controllers. Great news if you’re a guitarist as you can bring a lot of the control down to your feet.
  • Not forgetting Bounce Mode. Exclusive to the MK2, this allows you to combine the audio from various tracks into one. Therefore, unlike with the MK1, you’re not limited to just 5 tracks!!

The Boss 505 MK2 loop station: the good, the bad & the ugly

It’s one thing to know the differences between the Boss RC 505 MK2 and its predecessor, but another thing entirely to know where it excels. Not to mention where it perhaps falls short. So to help you weigh up whether the RC 505 MK2 looper is right for you, we’ve outlined the good, the bad & the ugly…

Pros of the RC 505 MK2 (AKA the good)

  • Musical note-taking is a joy on the MK2. The additional recording time really does make all the difference, especially if you’re a live performer.
  • Marker points make backtracking to the correct area of your mix super simple. Something that does wonders for enhancing workflow!
  • Bounce mode means that, although physically you only have 5 tracks, you can work as if you have 10, 15 or even more! Talk about enhancing the creative possibilities.
  • The larger LCD screen you get with the MK2 is super easy to operate + allows you to navigate the 505 a lot faster than the previous MK1.
  • The sheer amount of outputs you get with the 505 MK2 make it by far more the most flexible loopers out there when it comes to working with external hardware. You can also set specific effects over specific inputs/outputs too, which is nice.
  • The RC 505 MK2 now supports midi foot controllers, so that you can send more of the control down to your feet. For guitar players especially, this is a dream come true.

Cons of the RC 505 MK2 (AKA the bad)

  • There’s no access to the storage in the MK2. In the MK1, you could access the SD card and replace it with a larger one to increase the storage. Yes, it was glued in, but that didn’t stop some from fathoming a way to remove it.
  • In terms of weight, the 505 MK2 is a bit more obese. While its predecessor weighed in a 1.4kg, the MK2 comes in at 1.8kg.
  • The MK2 gives you 99 phase memories – the same as you got with the original 505. So considering the 8 year wait for the MK2, an increase here would have been nice.

The ugly

  • Okay, so we couldn’t talk about the 505 without mentioning that classic Roland piano black. A finish that looks fantastic when shiny & new, but becomes a giant fingerprint magnet as soon as you take it out of the box. Why Roland can’t include a cleaning cloth for all us OCD musicians, we’re not sure.

Boss RC 505 MK2 VS Boss RC 600

Similarities

  • Both the RC 505 Mk2 & the RC 600 have the same internal brain. The easiest way to think of them is like 2 separate controllers which make use of the same looping and effects engine.
  • Both the RC 600 & RC 505 MK2 come with the same number of effects & effect slots
  • Take a look at the LCD screens & you’ll soon see that they’re pretty similar too. In fact, the RC 505 MK2 & the RC 600 share the same menu structure & navigation. The systemwide settings are identical, as are the audio routing options.
  • Both share the same inputs and outputs: 2 XLR mic inputs with phantom power, 2 sets of stereo inputs + 6 outputs including USB type B & midi!
  • Neither of these devices can be run on batteries. Both need a power supply.
  • The RC 600 7 RC 505 MK2 also share the same storage capacity (99 memories) + can store single loops that are up to 1.5h each.
  • Despite their various differences, both in terms of functionality & build, both the RC 505 MK2 & the RC 600 set you back around the same price.

Differences

  • The RC 600 has 1up on the RC 505 when it comes to track count. The 505 has 5 while the RC 600 has 6. So in this respect, the RC 600 is the most flexible.
  • When it comes to functionality at your fingertips, the RC 505 takes the crown. The RC 600 is essentially just 9 foot-switches and a screen, whereas the RC 505 gives you access to over 30 buttons. All of which makes it the fastest & most user friendly of the two.
  • The RC 505 is designed to be controlled with your hands – it’s a tabletop looper. Whereas the RC 600 is a foot-pedal looper – i.e. a looper that’s designed to be controlled by your feet.
  • In terms of build, the RC 600 feels far more solid than the RC 505 MK2. While the RC 600 is made out of plastic, the 505 MK2 is made out of plastic. However, this does mean that the 505 is the lightest of the two by quite a stretch!
  • With the RC 600 being a foot controller, it includes a lock feature for the knobs below the screen. That way they don’t get kicked out of place. Something we think would have been equally as useful with the 505 MK2, but eh… you can dream.
  • In terms of sound bankage, the RC 600 comes out on top. While the RC 505 has 10 assignable buttons, each with 2 sound banks. The RC 600 features 9 foot switches, each of which boast 3 sound banks, making it 7 banks up & arguable the more custom of the two.

Is the Boss RC 505 MK2 the best looper? Our editor’s thoughts…

Well, there’s no getting around the fact the Boss RC 505 MK2 is an impressive piece of kit. Even to this day, the MK1 is still very much ahead of the game. In fact, if the RC 505 MK2 hadn’t come along, we’d no doubt be still recommending that you buy the MK1. That’s because 8 years on, it still does feel like a new piece of kit; the MK1 is highly advanced and intuitive to use. All a beginner really needs…

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However, with the launch of the MK2, we’d be tempted to sway the other way. Now don’t get us wrong, the original 505 is an absolutely stellar looper. For most (especially beginners) it will ‘suffice’ in majority of situations. But you see that’s the thing. Where the MK1 will suffice, the MK2 excels, giving you more in the way of, well – virtually everything!

More flexibility, more effects, more built features, more workflow enhancement… you get the picture. Which is why we’d say that providing you can afford it, the MK2 is now a better place to put your money. Not only that, but being a more technically advanced piece of kit, it should also allow you to create better sounding loops faster + encourage a smoother live performance too. Hardly something to complain about!

And yes, it’s not perfect. It’s slightly heavier than the MK1 and boast the same in terms of phase memory. However, that doesn’t stop it from being the best tabletop loop station you can get your hands on. Consider that the MK1 was pretty much the market leader in this segment anyway, and yep – the MK2 has (if you ask us) stolen the crown. However, notice we said the best ‘tabletop’ looper.

You see, that’s because while you can operate the 505 MK2 with a midi foot controller, we’ actually say that the Boss RC 600 does pip the 505 to the post in terms of a foot operated looper. While the 505 MK2 does support midi foot pedals, that does come with its limitations. Not to mention cost too! In which case, if you’re a guitarist or just a musician with very busy hands, then the RC 600 may be a better bet. If this is you, be sure to check out our full review of the Boss RC 600 too!

But that being said, if you’re hands are your primary looping apparatus, then we’d say you can’t really go wrong with the Boss RC 505 MK2. Reason being that, when you look at it, all Roland have really done is make the winning formula even better!! So much so that if you’re in the market for a looper, you’ll struggle to find anything that offers as much functionality for the price.

Hats off Roland – you’ve excelled yourself with this one.

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Enjoy this Boss RC 505 MK2 review & eager for more? Don’t miss out on all our latest Music Production Advice + all our recent Music Kit Reviews. Recently, we also did a full rundown of the Best Loop Stations + another on the Ed Sheeran’s Custom Chewie 2 Looper, which may also be a good read.

Or, if you’re here purely to read up on the Boss RC 505, keep reading & we’ll answer even more of your burning questions about this fantastic looper, as well as why it’s so essential to your setup…

The lowdown on the Boss RC 505 MK2 looper + loopers in general…

Yes – the Boss RC 505 looper also functions as an audio interface, as well as a looperboard! All of which means it’s super easy to integrate with your laptop or PC. To show you just how easy this is, here’s a step by step guide of what to do…

  1. Press the ‘system settings’ button 4 times on the trot.
  2. Then go on to change the USB mode from ‘storage’ to ‘audio/ midi’.
  3. Go to the Boss website & download + install the official Boss RC 505 drivers.
  4. Once installed, connect your RC 505 to your computer via USB.
  5. Enter your DAW and specify the Boss RC 505 as the audio interface of choice.
  6. Voila! You’re now up & running with your RC 505 functioning as your AI.

* Just bear in mind that a dedicated audio interface will likely do a better job of sound processing than a Boss RC 505. Reason being that even though the 505 does function as an audio interface, it doesn’t have preamps (like you’d find in a dedicated AI). As a result, the sound quality isn’t likely to be as HQ. In which case, you might benefit from investing in a cheap audio interface, should you be using the RC 505 for professional vocal recordings.

What you need in terms of being able to loop with the Boss RC 505, really all depends on what type of looper you are. If you’re a beat-boxer then chances are that all you’ll require is a mic and the 505. Perhaps an external audio interface at a stretch, but nothing too extreme.

However, if you’re an instrumentalist looking to loop with the 505, things get a little more complex, especially if you’re looking to control the RC 505 with your feet. In which case, we’d suggest checking out the solutions below, or opting for the Boss RC 600. Choice is yours…

YouTube video

The original Boss RC 505 looper (the MK1) was released back in April 2013.

A whopping 8 years ago! So as you can imagine, an update is, to put it nicely… overdue. In which case, it’s no surprise the RC 505 MK2 is anticipated to be a serious hit.

The Boss RC 505 MK2 loop station is expected to be released in January of 2022. Although, if you’re at all worried about not getting your hands on a unit, then you can currently submit a pre-order to ensure that you receive on upon release.

A wise move if you ask us, as with the popularity of the original, it’s highly likely that upon release demand will be high!

The Boss RC 505 is a tabletop looper, primarily designed for beat-boxers or vocalists. So while you can operate it with your feet, that’s now how it’s designed to be used.

However, the RC 505 MKII loop station can be operated with your feet, as (unlike the MK1) it’s compatible with midi foot controllers. In which case, guitarists and other musicians with busy hands, can operate the Boss RC 505 with their feet.

Although if you are after a foot-operated looper, we’d suggest checking out the Boss RC 600. A looper that’s been specifically designed to sit at your feet. Really which you opt for is down to personal preference. The RC 505 is far more accessible in terms of button-count, whereas the RC 600 (being designed to go by your feet) does have a more rugged build.

The Boss RC 505 has 99 phase memories.

One of the things that has remained the same between the original RC 505 and the MK2. Out of all the improvements that have been made to the RC 505 MK2 looper, this is one area that we wish Roland had spent as little more time developing. But eh… you can’t have everything.