Boss RC-505MKII - Test & Review

High-end Tabletop Looper

In October 2021, Boss not only announced the release of the new RC-600 but also a major update for its RC-505 tabletop looper. The Loop Station RC-505MKII is available since December 2021 for just over 500 pounds showcasing some significant innovations. What can you do with this Loop Station and is it worth switching from the first RC-505 to the new version? Let's have a look at the available information and figure it out.

Features and Specifications

On top of the device, you will find a central display with four rotary knobs. The RC-505MKII supports recording with up to five parallel tracks, each of which has separate physical controls, including individual record/play and stop buttons, as well as faders for controlling the volume and a circular track status indicator. The input and track effects of the RC-505MKII also have their control panel area with four effect buttons each for activating/deactivating up to four simultaneous effects and a large rotary knob for effect-specific parameters.

With the RC-505MKII, you can store loops and settings in 99 memory slots. With 1.5 hours of recording time per track and 13 hours of total recording capacity, the Loop Station has more than enough space for any use you could think of. In addition to its looper functionality, the RC-505MKII offers 49 input and 53 track effects. Another feature is a complex drum machine with an amazing amount of 200 rhythm patterns and 16 different drum kits.

If you would like to get a taste of all the effects and parameters of the new Loop Station by Boss before you buy it, you can take a look at the parameter guide available online as a PDF. Amongst others, the RC-505MKII provides the following effects:

  • High-Pass filter
  • Low-Pass filter
  • Flanger
  • Radio Voice
  • Robot Voice
  • Pitch Bend
  • Guitar Preamp
  • Distortion
  • Tremolo
  • Vibrato
  • Delay

Inputs and Outputs

In terms of connectivity, the RC-505MKII really doesn't fall short. It basically has the same features as the RC-600, which was announced at the same time. Two XLR microphone connections with 48 V phantom power are available, as well as two stereo instrument inputs as 6.3 mm jacks. As for outputs, the RC-505MKII looper provides three stereo jack outputs (Main, Sub1, Sub2), which you can also use as mono outputs via the left channel. One handy detail: Via the software settings on the device, it's possible to set the six jacks of the three stereo outputs as dedicated mono outputs for the individual tracks. And there is a 6.3 mm jack output for your headphones.

Unfortunately, you have to do without an XLR output when using the RC-505MKII, just like with the RC-600. Instead, the device has a regular MIDI input and output and two large jack connectors for external foot switches or pedals. You can connect the Loop Station to a PC or Mac via the USB-B port on the front panel. Download the free Tone Studio application, previously known from other Boss devices, to create backups of your loops and manage settings. The USB port can also act as a USB audio interface, exchanging MIDI signals between your DAW and the Loop Station.

In a nutshell, the RC-505MKII has the following connections:

  • 2x XLR microphone input with 48 V phantom power supply
  • 2x instrument input (R+L/Mono, large jack)
  • 3x stereo output (Main/Sub1/Sub2, R+L/Mono, large jack)
  • 1x headphone output (large jack)
  • 2x connector for external foot switches or expression pedals
  • 1x MIDI input
  • 1x MIDI output
  • 1x USB-B port
  • 1x power share port (power supply included)
  • 1x port for Kensington lock
  • 1x ground connection

Drum machine

One highlight of the RC-505MKII is without a doubt the integrated drum machine offering 200 different rhythm patterns. Each rhythm pattern has four variations, and you can choose from one of 16 drum kits for each pattern, which means that the sound of the drum machine can be strongly adapted to your own needs. Another noteworthy aspect: You can also transfer self-generated rhythm patterns to the device via a USB connection from your PC or Mac.

With the RC-505MKII, you can choose from the following drum kits:

  • STUDIO
  • LIVE
  • LIGHT
  • HEAVY
  • ROCK
  • METAL
  • JAZZ
  • BRUSH
  • CAJON
  • DRUM&BASS
  • R&B
  • DANCE
  • TECHNO
  • DANCE BEATS
  • HIPHOP
  • 808+909

Purchasing the RC-505MKII, you get a sophisticated and versatile drum machine. And we found the sound to be of high quality and professional as expected from a Boss device.

The Handling

Looking at modern loopers and effects processors, it seems that an LC display and associated rotary knobs to change the values on the display have become the norm. The RC-505MKII also uses this control concept. However, there are also separate physical controls for each track. This is not necessarily a given with other loopers with so many parallel tracks. The Boss RC-600, for example, which is also available since December 2021, only has enough controls for three tracks, even though the device supports six. In this case, you will need to constantly re-assign the controls using an additional button. Thankfully, the RC-505MKII doesn't require this switching, which we appreciate.

Overall, operating the RC-505MKII is very direct and accommodating, similar to the predecessor. In addition to the already mentioned controls for each track, there are also corresponding controls for the input and track effects, with the help of which you can switch four selected effects on and off as well as directly adjust important parameters of the effect via a large rotary knob. Although there is no direct foot control, the possibility of connecting external foot switches, pedals, and MIDI equipment means that some things can be switched to foot control with little effort.

On top of the device, next to the earlier mentioned controls, there are also buttons for starting or stopping all tracks simultaneously, a tap-tempo button, and an undo/redo button featuring flexible mark-back. With the mark-back feature, you can mark an overdub as a destination by pressing a button. The state of the track is reset as soon as an undo is performed.

As far as documentation goes, Boss once again lives up to its reputation with their new RC-505MKII. You can read the detailed manual on Boss website. An additional parameter guide contains tables with all available settings and functions.

Compared to the Predecessor (RC-505)

Visually, the new RC-505MKII has not changed all that much compared to the RC-505 we reviewed a few years ago. The device still shines in a black plastic casing with red and green accents and direct controls for tracks and effects. However, upon closer inspection, the RC-505MKII is a significant upgrade over its predecessor. Changes on the top of the unit include a larger display and four instead of three effect knobs each for input and track effects. The level faders are considerably longer on the RC-505MKII compared to its older brother and, judging by the images released so far, look a bit more premium.

The biggest physical changes are in the ports on the front of the device. While you'll have to make do with one XLR mic input and one stereo instrument input on the previous RC-505, you can now enjoy two XLR inputs and two jack inputs for instruments with the RC-505MKII. Boss didn't go small on the outputs either with its new RC-505MKII. Instead of only one stereo jack output, there are now three stereo jack outputs. Unfortunately, however, the previously available aux input is no longer there. Unlike before, the new RC-505MKII now has two connections for external foot switches or pedals instead of one.

Not only the outside but also the inside of the RC-505MKII changed a lot compared to the old RC-505. For example, the selection of rhythm patterns increased from 85 to 200, which is more than double. Instead of 26 input and track effects, there are now 49 input and 53 track effects. The maximum recording time increased by 10 hours. However, the number of available memory slots has remained the same. On both devices, 99 slots are available for storing loops and their effect settings.

All in all, we believe that the changes are big enough that it would hardly make any sense to buy the old RC-505 instead of the new RC-505MKII.

Conclusion

The RC-505MKII is a loop station suitable for advanced and professional users with five tracks and an impressive amount of sophisticated features. We very much appreciate the device's direct operating concept thanks to numerous controls. Even if you're a previous owner of the RC-505, the upgrade to the RC-505MKII might be worthwhile, since the ports and the drum machine in particular have changed a lot.

If five tracks aren't enough for you or you don't really like tabletop loopers, you should a look at the RC-600, which was released at the same time as the RC-505MKII and can record one more track.

This article is a subjective review. We are not liable for the accuracy, timeliness and completeness of the information provided on the linked sites. Particular content displayed on this website originates from Amazon. This content is provided "as is" and may be changed or removed at any time.

Author: Loopstation Team
Publish date: 14.11.2021
Last updated: 14.11.2021

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