MXR Clone Looper vs The Boss RC-5 [A Real Comparison]

The MXR Clone Looper and the BOSS RC-5 Loop Station are both great pedals but each of them targets different sectors of the looper pedal consumer market. For one, I would say that the RC-5 is a step above the Clone Looper in terms of the target audience.

The RC-5 is a more advanced looper relative to the MXR model, and the price reflects that. Regardless, I think exploring the differences is worth our time. Clearly, there are people online who’d like to see a head-to-head comparison. So how are they different?

Generally speaking, the BOSS RC-5 is a more feature-rich pedal than the MXR Clone Looper because it contains total control over settings and configurations, battery capability, drum loops, backing tracks via the BOSS Tone Studio, a tap tempo button, and memory storage for 99 loops.

But like I said, the upgraded features of the RC-5 relative to the Clone Looper are reflected by the price. Ultimately, I think that the BOSS RC-1 and MXR Clone Looper is a more fair comparison, with the Clone Looper taking a slight edge over the RC-1. But I digress, let’s compare and contrast the many similarities and differences between the two pedals.

By the way, there are always deals going on in the guitar and music world, so here are some of my favourite courses and gear that are on sale right now:

JamPlay $19.95 $5.00 for 1st Month
Punkademic’s [Beginner to Advanced] Music Theory Course $20.00 [FREE] 5-Day Trial
Use the coupon code: “producersociety”

Comparing the RC-5 Loop Station & the MXR Clone Looper

Me Holding the MXR Clone Looper and BOSS RC-5 Loop Station
I’ve got both pedals. You can check the price of the BOSS RC-5 Loop Station (on Amazon/Thomann/zZounds) and the MXR Clone Looper (on Thomann/zZounds) at the relevant links.

Rather than explain all of the different features one by one right away, instead, I decided to create this helpful chart for you to get a better idea of nearly all the features that each pedal has.

As you can see, they do share quite a few of the same features, but the RC-5 is ultimately more of a complete looper machine.

BOSS RC-5 Loop Station vs MXR Clone Looper

BOSS RC-5 Loop Station Features MXR Clone Looper Features
Record/Loop Record/Loop
Playback Playback
Overdub Overdub
Undo Overdub Undo Overdub
Redo Overdub Redo Overdub
Pause/Stop Pause/Stop
Loop Volume Loop Volume
Total Control Over Settings & ConfigurationsX
Battery Capability X
External Footswitch/Expression Pedal External Footswitch/Expression Pedal
External MIDI Device Control X
Drum Loops and Backing Tracks X
Tempo (Including Tap Tempo) X
Import/Export from Computer and BOSS Tone Studio X
Capable of Memory and System Reset X
ReverseReverse
One Shot Capability One Shot Capability
XDouble Speed
XHalf-Speed
XTrue Bypass

Features of the BOSS RC-5 Loop Station

In other articles like my comparison between the BOSS RC-1 and the BOSS RC-5, I explained that the RC-5 manual was a bit lackluster, but it turns out there is a more complete instruction manual in the form of the Reference Guide.

That all said, I’ve compiled a list of features for the BOSS RC-5 including my own infographics for getting everything to work. Let’s start with the most basic feature which is recording a simple loop.

If you need a tutorial on getting everything to work, my detailed BOSS RC-5 guide is the answer including getting it set up with your amp, installing a battery or power supply, and where to set it up in your signal chain. I’ve got the same for the Clone Looper as well.

Without further ado, let’s compare and contrast the features and capabilities of the RC-5 and Clone Looper.

Record

How to Make a Loop - How to Use the RC-5 Loop Station
Similar to the MXR CLone Looper, recording a simple loop with the BOSS RC-5 is as simple as hitting the footswitch just once right as you start playing a musical phrase or idea.

Playback

Playback Screen - How to Use the Boss RC-5 Loop Station
And again, just like the Clone Looper, playing back a simple loop in the BOSS RC-5 means you’ll have to press on the switch once more after having recorded your loop.

Overdub

The Overdub Bar - How to Use the Boss Loop Station RC-5
You have to press on the footswitch one more time after the playback to begin overdubbing with the BOSS RC-5.

Really, the first 4-5 features on the BOSS RC-5 and MXR Clone Looper are nearly identical in terms of how they’re done. You press on the footswitch once, twice, three times, or twice in succession to record, playback, overdub, undo/redo, or delete.

Undo or Delete Overdub

Playback with the BOSS RC-5
To delete the overdub with the BOSS RC-5 Loop Station, press on the switch once to begin playback after recording the overdub, press it again to bring up the overdub screen, and then press and hold it one more time to delete the overdub.

Redo Overdub

Undo/Redo the Overdub - The BOSS RC-5 Loop Station
To redo an overdub with the BOSS RC-5, press on the switch once more to bring back the overdub that you just deleted. These two actions are performed one after the other.

Pause/Stop

How to pause a loop with the BOSS RC-5
To pause or stop a loo with the BOSS RC-5, either in playback or recording/overdub mode, press on the footswitch twice in a row.

The MXR Clone Looper works in a similar way.

Loop Volume

Loop Level on the RC-5 - How to Use the BOSS RC-5
To change the loop level volume on the BOSS RC-5, press on the knob one time and then scroll according to a numerical value.

In this sense, I would say that the MXR Clone Looper is actually a touch above the RC-5 because you just have to turn the knob on the Clone Looper to adjust the volume as I’ll explain to you in a minute, rather than press on it once first.

However, this is due to the number of possible loops with the BOSS RC-5, which is one of its defining features, and also another big one that we’ll discuss later.

Reverse

Reverse on the RC-5 - How to Use the BOSS RC-5 Loop Station
The BOSS RC-5 is also capable of reverse looping, which you access by pressing the Memory button just one time, then the Memory/Loop Level knob twice in a row, and then you have to scroll to turn Reverse on.

Getting Reverse to turn on with the BOSS RC-5 is more of an involved process that takes a few steps, compared to the MXR Clone Looper which does so in a simpler fashion.

Adjusting The Order Of Pedal Functions Including the Display

Display Bars Tempo and Beats - How to Use the Boss Loop Station
The BOSS RC-5 can also change nearly all of its settings and configurations, which you do by clicking on the Set-Up button.

This is another defining difference between the pedals because while the MXR Clone Looper might have features that are capable of turning on by pressing a button once or twice in a row, the RC-5 gives you the option to change the settings almost completely.

Battery Capability

9V Energizer Battery - How to Use the Boss RC-5 Loop Station
You can also put a 9V battery into the BOSS RC-5, which you cannot do with the MXR Clone Looper. But as you already know if you read my guide on this topic, you only get around 1 hour and 45 minutes with the Clone Looper.

External Footswitch

RC-5 Footswitch Port - The BOSS RC-5
Both the RC-5 and the MXR Clone Looper have the ability for control by external devices, which is something that the RC-1 can’t do, the Clone Looper’s true market competitor if you want to think of the two pedals that way.

External MIDI Device Control

MIDI OUT/IN - How to Use the BOSS RC-5
From what I understand, the MXR Clone Looper can’t be controlled by an external MIDI device like the RC-5, but the Clone Looper can be controlled in other ways which I’ll explain to you in its section.

Drum Loops and Backing Tracks

Drum Loops - How to Use the BOSS Rc-5 Loop Station
The inclusion of drum loops and backing tracks is a big step over the MXR Clone Looper, which contains no such thing. Because the RC-5 is 32-bit, everything sounds pretty good too.
Scroll-the-Drum-Kit-How-to-Use-the-Boss-Loop-Station-RC-5
As you can see here, you can switch through different styles of drum kits with the BOSS RC-5, which is pretty cool.

Memory Bank of 99 Loops

Memory 99 Loops - How to Use The BOSS RC-5
And this is probably the biggest advantage that the BOSS RC-5 has over the MXR Clone Looper: its ability to house 99 loops.

You can store tons of loops on the BOSS RC-5, which is great for practicing and also creative purposes as well. Additionally, if you run out of space, you can just connect it to your computer and store your loops on your desktop or to another device.

Capable of 1.5-Hour Loops

Longer Loops - How to Use The BOSS RC-5
The BOSS RC-5, in addition to housing many more loops, can also hold much longer loops.

The MXR Clone Looper, if I’m not mistaken, can only hold 6-minute loops, which is a step down from the BOSS RC-1 which can hold 12-minute loops, compared, again, to the RC-5’s 1.5-hour loops.

Tempo (Including Tap Tempo)

Tap Tempo - How to Use The BOSS RC-5
It’s possible to adjust the tempo of your drum kits by either tapping a tempo with the Tempo button or by scrolling to a precise number with the Memory/Loop Level knob.

Import/Export from Computer and BOSS Tone Studio

Connecting-RC-5-to-Your-Computer-How-to-Use-the-Boss-RC-5-Loop-Station-
This is how you plug in your BOSS RC-5 to your computer: with a printer cable, or what’s commonly called a USB-A to USB-B cable. Follow this guide for more detailed instructions on how to do it.
Boss Sound Studio - How to Use the Boss RC-5 Loop Station
The BOSS Tone Studio is the application that you download from BOSS’ website that gives you access to all of the different backing tracks and additional loops.

Of course, the MXR Clone Looper does not have this ability.

Capable of Memory and System Reset

Mem + Sys - How to Reset The BOSS Loop Station [ANSWERED]..jpg
The RC-5 gives you the option to reset memory and settings configurations, either together as one, or separately. This means you can reset the settings without affecting the loops, or you can just wipe both out to factory settings at the same time.
Pros of the BOSS RC-5 Loop StationCons of the BOSS RC-5 Loop Station
Capable of 1.5-Hour Loops No Loop Speed
Backing Tracks and Drum Loops No Double Speed
Memory Bank of 99 Loops No Half Speed
Import/Export with PC Capability Not True Bypass (Buffered)
Battery Capability Price relative to Clone Looper
Tempo Button
Total Control Over Settings/Configurations
Capable of Memory/System Reset

Features The BOSS RC-5 Has But The MXR Clone Looper Does Not

Here’s an organized list of everything that the BOSS RC-5 can do that the MXR Clone Looper cannot, just for organization’s sake. You’ll have to forgive me if I missed a couple because the RC-5 can do many different things.

1) Battery Capability

2) Total Control Over Settings & Configurations

3) Drum Loops and Backing Tracks

4) Tempo (Including Tap Tempo)

5) Import/Export from Computer and BOSS Tone Studio

6) Capable of Memory and System Reset

7) 1.5-Hour Loops

8) 99 Loops

Features of the MXR Clone Looper

As I said right at the start of the article, the MXR Clone Looper is an impressive pedal considering its price relative to that of the BOSS RC-1.

While I can only speculate what MXR’s plan was, I think the Clone Looper was meant to be a competitor to BOSS’ popular RC-1 pedal, rather than the RC-5.

Check the price of the Clone Looper (on Thomann) and you can see what I mean. Check the price of the BOSS RC-1 (on Amazon) as well.

MXR Clone Looper Picture
The MXR Clone Looper is a competitive looper pedal due to its price relative to looper pedal models. It has reverse, half-speed, double-speed, and the ability to control via footswitches and other MIDI control – check out the manual here.

Record

How to Record with the Clone Looper
As I said earlier, recording a loop with the Clone Looper is identical to how it’s done on the RC-5. You just have to press the record button at the start of your phrase.

Playback

Playback - Clone Looper
Press on the Play/Stop button once to start playback.

Overdub

Dub - How to Use the MXR Clone Looper
To overdub, it’s as simple as pressing the record button again after having recorded your initial loop. You can also hit the Play/Stop button, and then the Recording button again.

This is one area where the BOSS RC-5 and the Clone Looper differ because the Clone Looper gives you the option to just press on the Recording button again to start looping in addition to just hitting the Play/Stop button.

However, you actually can set this up with the BOSS RC-5 settings if you really wanted to.

Delete

Hold to Delete - How to Use the Clone Looper
Hold down on the recording button to eliminate an entire loop.

Silent Delete

Silent Delete - How to Use the Clone Looper.
You can also delete the loop silently so you don’t have to hear it again. You do this by pressing the hold volume button for five seconds and then hitting the Record button again.

Initially, I didn’t think this was possible with the RC-5, but you can set this up in the settings as well if you wanted to.

Undo and Redo The Deleted Loop

Redo - How to Use the Clone Looper
Both the RC-5 and MXR Clone Looper feature and undo/redo feature which is activated by holding down on the switch in succession to each other. On the Clone Looper, you do it on the Play/Stop button though.

Loop Volume

Volume Button - How to Use the Clone Looper
As I said earlier, the Loop volume button is a little bit more accessible than the RC-5, but that’s just because the RC-5 has tons of loops to shuffle through, and you can only have so many knobs on the pedal.

Reverse

Reverse Function - How to Use the MXR Clone Looper
Hold down on the Volume button to start reverse playback with the Clone Looper. The LED light will flash an amber color once it’s in the right mode.

And now we start to get into the features of the MXR Clone Looper that I find to be impressive considering its price. In my view, these are the features that make it a cut above the BOSS RC-1 pedal, despite their similar target market.

Half-Speed

Half Speed - How to Use the Clone Looper
The half-speed setting on the MXR Clone Looper is activated by pressing the volume button at just one time. This is a setting that does what the title suggests, it puts the loop into half-speed.

This is a cool feature of the MXR Clone Looper that’s fairly unique to it, and it alone. I don’t know of another looper pedal that has this.

Double Speed

Double Speed - How to Use the Clone Looper
To turn on double-speed playback with the Clone Looper, press the volume knob twice in a row during playback.

These are cool features if you want to quickly change the tempo of a loop that you’re working on.

I like it because if I’m trying to nail a lick over a chord change, or I’m trying to learn the solo to a song, I can record it with the Clone Looper, put it in half-speed, and practice along at that speed before I attempt it in regular speed.

Expression Pedal Capability

Expression Pedal and Jack - How to Use the MXR Clone Looper
You can also connect an expression pedal like the Volume (X) pedal from Dunlop. You have to connect it with a 1/4″ instrument cable.

Control Device Capability

Tap Tempo Switch and Control Jack - How to Use the Clone Looper
This is an external switch that you can use to control other features of the Clone Looper.

Play Once Capability

Play Once Mode - How to Use the Clone Looper
It also gives you the ability to clear the loop quietly and put it into the one-shot mode, which is something, from what I understand, it can’t do without the Tap Tempo switch.

True Bypass

True Bypass Mode Clone Looper - How to Use the Clone Looper
And finally, the last feature I want to talk about is the fact that the Clone Looper is a true bypass pedal.

As the image shows you, you can change between true bypass and buffered if you wanted to.

If you don’t know what this means, true bypass is a term describing that when the pedal is turned off, the signal path goes through the pedal from input to output, without being negatively affected or encumbered in some way.

People like true bypass pedals because they tend to sound a bit better when chained together with a bunch of other pedals. Explained using different words, the signal is able to pass through all of the electronics without being bogged down.

Pros of the MXR Clone LooperCons of the MXR Clone Looper
Half-Speed No battery capability
Double Speed Can’t store more than 1 loop at a time
True BypassCan only record 6-minute loops
More accessible volume control Lacks sophisticated settings control and no reset
Can be controlled with external switches No import and export capability
PriceNo Drum Loops or Backing Tracks
The pedal is easier to flip over due to its shape

Features the MXR Clone Looper Has That The RC-5 Does Not

Really, there are only three different features the MXR Clone Looper has that the RC-5 doesn’t, and they are the following:

1) Half-Speed

2) Double-Speed

3) True Bypass

My Opinion On the RC-5 and MXR Clone Looper

To wrap this article up, I just have a few thoughts on these pedals, a couple of which I’ve already alluded to. I think a lot of people unfairly compare the RC-5 and MXR Clone Looper but I don’t believe these pedals are comparable.

The reason they’re not quite comparable is they’re usually not in the same price range. If the Clone Looper were to cost you as much as the RC-5, then there is no question the RC-5 is a superior pedal. But they’re not.

As I said at the start of the article, a fairer comparison would be between the BOSS RC-1 and Clone Looper which I’ll probably wind up doing at some point. And in that case, I think the Clone Looper is actually a better pedal.

It has more features and capabilities than the RC-1, and plus, it’s just way cooler looking than the RC-1. It’s sleeker and sexier. It may also be a bit lighter as well.

Other Articles You May Be Interested In

Important Things to Note About the RC-5 and Clone Looper

1) One Thing I Dislike About Both Pedals

BOSS RC-5: The one thing about this pedal that I think isn’t that great is the battery life. Ultimately, this is a small criticism because I have a power supply for it anyway, but it’s worthy of note.

MXR Clone Looper: The MXR Clone Looper is best fastened to a pedal board. Because of its thin rectangular shape, I find that it’s easy to tip and flip over when you’re pressing on it. Explained another way, it’s not quite as sturdy as it could be.

Gear Mentioned

1) BOSS RC-5 Loop Station (on Amazon/Thomann/zZounds)

2) MXR Clone Looper (on Thomann/zZounds)

3) BOSS RC-1 (on Amazon/zZounds/Thomann)