As digital memory became cheaper, it became possible to create digital delays with longer and longer delay times. That meant you could play a long passage of music, play it back, and play along with the playback. What was once the province of multitrack recording became a job for a phrase looper. Today’s loopers can record hours of material, in multiple memory slots, for instant playback and recording. Many units allow you to save your loops to memory cards or to your PC or Mac. Some have built in drum patterns, quantizing (so you can automatically loop on the beat), effects, even microphone inputs so you can record vocals and acoustic instruments.

Best Phrase Loopers

For good basic phase looping, the Digitech Jam Man Solo and the Boss RC-3 Loop Station are top choices. The Boss RC-3 provides three hours of stereo recording in its internal memory, built in drum patterns, 99 memory locations, and a USB connection to save your creations to external devices. The Digitech Jam Man Solo can store an incredible 35 hours of loops in 99 memory slots, expandable to 16 hours by using its SD memory card slot. The Jam Man Solo also features a USB connection for storage to external devices.

The Boss RC-30 USB Loop Station is perhaps the most in demand of the more sophisticated units. Featuring rhythm guides with real drum samples, true stereo input and output, two synchronized stereo tracks, three hours of stereo recording in 99 onboard memory slots, dual pedal control, XLR microphone input, and built in effects. The effects include pitch bend, step phaser, sweep filter that syncs with the current tempo. The rhythms include rock, pop, funk, shuffle, R&B, and Latin all settable with tap tempo. You can not only store tracks via USB, you can record them onto the RC-30 via USB as well.

The DigiTech Jam Man Stereo is another sophisticated looper that is much in demand. This great unit features Auto Quantized looping, reverse playback, selectable time signatures, time stretch so that you can slow down playback without changing pitch, and an XLR input. You get 35 minutes of onboard recording time and 99 internal memories, expandable to 16 hours with a total of 198 memory locations using the SD memory card slot. There is a rhythm output to send the click track out to you whole band and you can load up the Jam Man with bass lines, drums, harmonies, and more. You can also get free JamManager software to transfer and organize your loops by computer.