Spoiler: The Donner Circle looper isn’t just any old looper.
In fact, when it comes to guitar effects pedals, the Circle is the top of Donner’s range – it’s the bigger brother to more compact pedals like the One & Triple (both also touched on throughout this review). Plus, it’s also a worthy contender to practically all the loopers in its segment. It’s no wonder then why this nifty piece of kit is described by folks on the internet as “an essential” or “must have” for any looping fanatic.
All of which sounds very encouraging, but… is it actually true? Is this plucky little looper really the underdog? Or is it just another victim of internet marketing hype? Well, that’s what we look to uncover through this review. So can Donner really take on the likes of Boss & DigiTech? Read on to find out…
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Donner Circle Looper Specs
Right then – so before we put this Donner looper up against its rivals, you need to at least have an idea of all the Donner Circle looper’s specs. Otherwise you might be lead into thinking that this nifty little box is something that it’s not. Something you don’t want to happen, as it could well change whether the Donner Circle is the right looper for you.
So to help you come to your own conclusion & make a fair comparison, here’s everything you need to know about the Donner Circle looper in 2022…
- Weight: 390g
- Dimensions: 12.1cm x 5.6cm x 9.9cm (Width x Height x Depth)
- Casing Material: Aluminium
- Led Indication: Yes
- Input: 2 x ¼” Mono Audio Jack
- Output: 2 x ¼” Mono Audio Jack
- Power: 9V DC adapter
- Input Impedance: 1 M Ohms
- Output Impedance: 470 Ohms
- Working Current: 300 mA
- The Donner Circle looper gives you access to recording at 44.1kHz (24bit). To put that into perspective, that’s the same sound quality/ bitrate that you get with the monstrous multi £100 Headrush Looperboard!! In terms of sound, the Donner is certainly up there with the best.
- With this looper you get a decent 4 mins of recording time per track, over a healthy 40 tracks. Pretty impressive considering that guitar loopers this size generally only give you about 1 minute!
- Recording with this Donner looper isn’t too restrictive either. We found the 160 minutes of recording time to be more than enough in most cases.
- If you’re one for drum grooves then the Donner Circle doesn’t disappoint. There’s 100 drum grooves of them packed into this tiny machine!! All of which are taken from 10 unique musical styles. For those that produce over multiple genres, the variety really is there.
- Keeping time with this loop station is no issue either. Donner’s Circle comes with 10 types of metronome. All of which are really good at helping you keep in time & on beat.
- Unlike some cheap loopers, the Circle does support an external foot-switch. Something that we’d say makes it the ideal weapon for gigging!!
- Donner have also made sure that this looper supports USB for both importing/ exporting audio. In most cases, rearranging loops is nothing more than drag & drop!
- There’s a function to ensure that your loops are saved whenever the looper is turned off. Reassuring to know.
Unboxing the Donner Circle guitar effects pedal: What’s in the box?
Buy a Donner Circle looper & it’ll come packaged in a very ‘Special Box’. A box that upon opening, you’ll see contains…
* Want a closer look at the Donner Circle looper manual? Check the FAQs at the bottom of this blog for high-res pictures of the entire thing!!
What’s the difference between the Donner Circle, Triple & One loopers?
So, with Donner being famous for making a whole variety of compact loopers, you’re probably wondering what the difference is between the Circle & the smaller (+ even more compact), One & Triple loopers. Are they the same looper with just a few extra functions? Or 3 entirely separate loopers in their own right? Here’s the main way how these other 2 smaller loopers differ to the Circle…
Donner Circle VS Donner One
Donner Circle VS Donner Triple
Donner Circle Looper: the good, the bad and the ugly
Now you’re clued up on the Circle & how it compares to other loopers in the Donner family, you’re probably curious as to where it’s strengths lie. Not to mention its weaknesses too. All things it’s only wise to be aware of before investing you money in a looper.
So to help you reach a decision, we’ve picked apart the Donner Circle looper bit by bit + outlined what we feel to be the major pro & cons – AKA the good, the bad & the ugly…
Pros of the Circle Looper (AKA the good)
Cons of the Circle Looper (AKA the bad)
How does the Donner Circle Looper compare to other pedals?
Donner Circle Looper VS Nux Loop Core
- Both the Nux & the Donner boast a ‘fade out’ mode. Useful for when you want to smoothly transit in-between loops. A useful tool for when performing live!
- A substantial metal build is something you get with both loopers. Although, we’d say the Donner feels the most sturdy of the two. #JustSaying
- The sampling rate for both loopers is identical… 44.1kHz.
- Importing/ exporting loops using either looper is simply a case of ‘drag & drop’. Both loopers are very beginner-friendly!
- You have unlimited overdubs, whichever pedal you choose. Reassuring to know!
- Both have a screen, however that you get on the Donner looper is FAR superior. Not only is it clearer to read (perks of LCD over LED), but it’s also a LOT more useful too. Navigation via this screen is a breeze!
- Buy the Nux looper & you have to make do with only 1 foot-switch. Whereas with the Circle gives you two (4 if you count the two volume knobs that also function as buttons).
- However, the Nux does trump the Circle in regards to memory slots. The Nux has 99, while the Circle has just 40.
- Audio-wise, the Circle is a real step up! Unlike the Nux Loop Core which has 16bit audio, it boasts 24bit. Impressive!!
- When weight is concerned, the Donner looper is significantly heavier – at 265g the Nux is over 100g lighter!!
- The Nux also offers more in th way of recording time in comparison to the Circle. At 300 minutes, that figure’s close to double!!
- The Donner boasts 100 rhythm patterns – more than double that of the Nux, which makes do with just 40!! Potentially a dealbreaker?
- When it comes to price, the Nux pedal tends to be more expensive. Although that will depend on where you shop.
Donner Circle Looper VS Boss RC-5
- Both these loopers boast LCD screens however that you find on the Boss looper is significantly larger. nevertheless, they both do pretty much the same thing.
- Despite whether you use the Donner Circle or Boss RC-5 looper, you’ll have input for an expression or sustain pedal. Useful if you plan on using this looper in a live setting!!
- The Boss RC-5, just like the Donner Circle, allows you to back up & load your loops in a WAV format via USB. With both pieces of kit, this is as simple as drag & drop.
- Regardless of which pedal you choose, both allow you to record unlimited amounts of overdubs per track. So really with both thrse loopers, there’s no excuse for not being creative!
- For both these loopers, the sampling rate is identical… 44.1kHz.
- Audio quality is where you could say the RC-5 has the edge. While the Circle boasts solid 24bit audio, the Boss looper goes one better at 32bit audio.
- Recording time on the Boss RC-5 is also substantially larger. The Donner’s 160 minutes looks pretty small when compared to the 13 hours that you get with the RC-5. Although with that being said – do you know a Loopermaster who’s used 13 hours of recording time? We don’t.
- However, the Donner takes the lead when it comes to foot-switches & overall control. While the RC-5 has 1 single foot-switch, the Circle has 2 (4 counting the control knobs which also function as buttons).
- The RC-5 also lags behind in regards to rhythms. It has just 57, while the Donner Circle has 100!!
- The Circle is also 60g lighter too, & yet if you ask us, feels to be the better built of the two. Quite surprising, but considering the price, it doesn’t feel cheap.
- On the topic of price, when it comes to figures the Boss RC-5 is in another league. In most cases it’ll set you back double the price of the Donner!!
- Although the Boss RC-5 does have a whopping 99 phase memories, where the Donner has only 40. Saying that though, we can’t think of a time when we’d used more than 20, so while there are more on the RC-5, we don’t think it’s that big of a deal.
Donner Circle Looper VS DigiTech Trio
- In regards to foot-switches, both pedals are made of metal & feel substantial enough to stand on. Neither of these pedals feel cheap by any means.
- When it come to recording, both record at an identical 44.1 kHz & offer the same 24bit quality audio.
- Choose either the Trio or the Donner looper & you’ll have unlimited overdubs!
- Despite the Trio having a LOT more buttons & switches, both these loopers offer just 1 core loop track.
- Connecting an external expression pedal is just as easy with the Donner looper as it is with the Digitech. Both these loop stations support external expression/ sustain pedals.
- When it comes to £$€ there’s 1 clear favourite. The Donner Circle is pretty much half the price of the Trio, if not less in some cases!!
- Opt for the Trio & you get a whopping 12 different music genres to choose from. Something you don’t get with the Donner Circle.
- On the subject of screens, the difference is pretty clear. The Donner has one, while the Trio just relies on clusters of LED lights. For this alone, the Circle is (in our opinion) more user friendly.
- Foo-switches aside, the Trio has 6 volume-type adjustment knobs, whereas the Donner makes do with just 2.
- At a touch over 660g, the Trio is heavy!! In fact, it’s not far off double the weight of the Donner Circle. Something any ‘on the go’ musician ought to bear in mind.
- The Trio allows you to do more than just offload your loops via USB. You can even sync them to a micro SD card if you wish. A perk you don’t come across with the Donner.
- Buy the Trio & aside from the foot-switches, you get a healthy 5 assignable buttons. An additional feature you don’t get full stop with the Donner Circle.
Is the Donner Circle looper worth it? The best looper for sale?
Especially when to label something ‘the best’ is actually pretty daft. To claim such a thing is pretty much like saying something smells awful or like rotten fish – it’s an opinion, not fact.
Hence why (spoiler alert), we will NOT be concluding the Donner Circle is the best looper you can buy in 2022. Nor ever in fact. However, that’s not to say the Circle isn’t a good fit. For many it will be, although that really all comes back to what you look for in a looper + how you use one.
In which case then, if you’re in search of a looper that’s highly technical & packing multiple loop tracks, umpteen different effects & more assignable controls than you have fingers, then no – chances are the Donner Circle is not going to be the looper for you. Something slightly more hefty like the Boss RC 600 or Headrush Looperboard is likely to be a better bet. #JustSaying However…
If for you the perfect looping recipe is something that’s beginner-friendly, highly giggable & well built, then the Donner Circle should without doubt make your shortlist. Yes, it may not be the most feature-packed looper out there, nor the largest, but when it comes to the amount of features you get in relation to the price (i.e. sheer value) we’d say you’d be hard pushed to find a better pedal.
So much so that, if we were a looping rookie or intermediate player, this 24bit box of tricks would be our ‘go-to’.
Enjoy this Donner Circle looper review & eager for more? Don’t miss out on all our latest Music Kit Reviews, as well as the lowdown on all things Music Production. Recently we’ve also done a full in-depth guide to the Best Loop Stations + reviews of both the Boss RC 600 & the RC 505 Mk2, which may worth checking out!
Or if your heart’s set on the Donner Circle looper keep reading to discover even more about this impressive loop station…