Boss is the daddy of pedal-based loop hardware, at first mainly for guitarists but latterly for all kinds of live performers, incorporating advanced features like audio interfacing and long recording times. The RC-202 packs a ton of functionality into its compact but cool-looking shell. There’s two stereo phrase tracks with independent controls, a whole host of built-in fx for processing your sounds, and rhythmic patterns to help act as a guide. It can also accept external MIDI input, footswitch input and as a USB audio and MIDI interface for DAW integration. Of course there’s XLR mic in with phantom power too, as well as mono / stereo instrument inputs and stereo aux ins. Everything you need to loop and perform live!
Here’s an interesting one - a handheld mic with built-in looping! The idea is that you build up your vocal layers directly into the mic - which has up to 13 minutes of loop time available - and keep going! A cardioid condenser mic, it uses 32-bit audio processing and has multiple levels of undo and redo in case you make mistakes. Hook it up to headphones or speakers to hear the results. Check out this video that explains how it works in more detail.
A second entry for looping kings Boss, but this time a unit that’s much bigger and bolder. The size of a full pedal board, the RC-300 has three stereo tracks of recording with dedicated foot switches and controls per-track, as well as a fader for each track for ultimate mixing control. It has a staggering 3 hours of internal recording time available as well as 16 onboard effects and an expression pedal to control them. An XLR mic input is used to get sound in, and there’s USB storage connectivity for the import and export of WAV files. This is the ultimate looping station for live performers who are serious about their craft.
A more bespoke hardware unit, anyone seeing you with this might be forgiven for thinking it was some sort of time travel device! With a compact footprint, comprehensive feature spec and an intuitive user interface, the 22500 records high quality, non-compressed audio directly to a removable SDHC card (4 to 32 GB) and each card holds up to 100 individual loops. It has 16 built-in drum loops, parallel or sequential recording modes as well as quantised or non-non-quantised recording, and reverse and octave functions. The USB port allows backup to and from a computer, and there’s optional footswitch control for better on-stage flexibility. Truly, a custom looping solution.
OK so we’re pushing the boat out a little here. The MPC Live is much more than just a looper - it’s a fully fledged hardware and software music production system. DSP-powered, it doesn’t even need a computer to work. With a touch screen and 2GB of RAM, it’s practically a computer in itself. There’s 16GB onboard storage, a full complement of MIDI and audio ins and outs, user-expandable hard drive, USB, wi-fi and Bluetooth. Combining the classic sampling workflow of older MPC units (looping, editing and sequencing) with these modern technologies makes it a formidable choice for production and performance. You’ll be doing more than looping on it, that’s for sure.
DataLooper is a MIDI foot controller designed to give you control and visual feedback while using the Ableton Live looper and session view. It's lightweight, highly configurable and super simple to use.