If you spend a lot of time in the acoustic or open-mic scene, there’s no doubt that you’ve seen a looper pedal by now. These devices are incredibly popular, as they allow you to layer up your vocals to create massive, choral-like sounds and harmonious arrangements.
Just check out this awesome performance by the band Tune-Yards, in which their lead singer builds their hit song “Powa” from scratch.
To do this, all you need is a microphone, some creative ideas, and of course, a good vocal loop pedal.
We’re going to take you through some of our favorite vocal-based loopers on the market today to help you find the best one for all of your layering needs!
- 1 The Top 5 Vocal Loopers
- 2 What to Consider Before Purchasing a Vocal Loop Pedal
- 3 Stay In The Loop
The Top 5 Vocal Loopers
#1 Top Pick
The TC-Helicon company has gone above and beyond with their Voicelive 3 Extreme, as it is so much more than your typical vocal fx processor.
Unlike any other company around, TC-Helicon focuses on the vocal realm and creates effects and loopers to allow performers to bring their studio vocals to the stage with ease.
The price might be a bit steep for some, though when you hear the studio-grade effects and begin to mess with the three-stage built-in looper, you realize what makes it such a pro purchase.
There is 45 minutes of looping time built into this device, allowing to arrange a whole set if you’d like.
The three-stage looper allows you to put together multiple arrangements, perfect if you have different verse and chorus parts that you want to play on stage.
Beyond that, there is a world of effects including choruses, reverbs, harmonizers, and more, as well as built-in guitar amps and effects thanks to TC-Electronic’s TonePrint capabilities.
Bottom Line: There are too many great things to say about the TC-Helicon Voicelive Extreme 3 for one short review. If you have the money and you want to purchase a looper and multi-fx pedal that provides top-of-the-line, studio-grade sound quality, this is it.
Boss is known for giving guitarists their attention to detail with their plethora of pedals on the market. It wasn’t until they came out with the RC-300 that they put themselves on the map of looping stardom.
The Boss RC-300 is easily the most powerful looping station on the market. If it weren’t for the fact that the Voicelive 3 Extreme was dedicated to vocals, this would probably be number one on our list.
The Boss RC-300 comes with three stereo tracks, each with its own dedicated footswitch and volume fader.
You can record up to 3 hours of sound and recall up to 99 onboard memory banks. There are 16 high-quality effects built-in too, allowing you to manipulate your vocals to your creative desire.
Some of the other impressive features on this bad boy include the auto-recording feature for instant looping, loop quantization, and USB Connectivity.
Bottom Line: If you’re looking for an all-around great voice looper that can also do guitar, and any other instrument you can think of, the Boss RC-300 is a no-brainer. With hours of recording time and a strong multi-fx processor, you’ll have a world of creativity at your toes.
The VE-20 offers some of the finest quality vocal-effects technology in the world in a compact form. With 38 seconds of looping time, you can sing, loop, and overdub mono phrases easily and in real-time with the click of the footswitch.
This particular pedal allows you to loop up to three layers or harmonies, perfect for the beginner to intermediate looper.
Beyond the looping capabilities, you can make use of some of the specialized vocal effects including harmony, double-tracking, reverb, delay, and more.
You also get some added special effects like radio vocals and heavy distortion, perfect for bringing your studio processing to the stage.
One of the coolest things onboard is the real-time pitch-correction tool. There’s nothing worse than hearing your out-of-tune harmony stack loop over and over again. Instead, input the key of the song and let the pitch corrector do work!
Bottom Line: The Boss VE-20 is the perfect portable vocal looper for beginner to intermediate players who want to get into the world of looping, but also want to be able to use special effects in their live sets. With top-tier sound quality, a variety of expressive effects, and the durable Boss build, you get quite a bit for the money.
The Jamman Vocal XT provides you with simple looping capabilities and an easy-to-use interface that makes it perfect for those just getting into the looping world.
It comes with one large loop knob on the face and a single stomp button. The beauty is, you can record up to 10 minutes of audio on this bad boy, which is great considering the low price.
One of the best features onboard the Jamman Vocal XT is that it comes with a “silent, clear” footswitch. The loop will actually start when the footswitch rises instead of when it comes down. This helps to keep that nasty click out of your overdub.
If you’re looking to have more “channels” or more memory overall, you can utilize the JamSync, which will allow you to daisy chain other Jamman pedals to create the ultimate looper.
While there are no LEDs to tell you what’s happening internally, Jamman provided a small light on the interface that shows you whether you are recording, looping, or playing back. This can be helpful when playing live so that you don’t accidentally erase that perfect take.
Bottom Line: If you’re just getting into the world of loop pedals, the Jamman XT is an excellent one to start with! While it may not come with any onboard effects or added features, the ten minutes is far more than enough to justify the already low price.
If you want the simplest of the simple loopers that won’t cost you much at all, the TC-Helicon Ditto Mic Looper will get the job done. Built by the same company that crafts some of the most highly-praised vocal effects processors in the world, this budget unit is made to create the best with your voice.
The pedal comes with a straightforward loop function with one XLR input. There are two footswitches (start and stop) that help keep things simple for overdubbing. In the center is a volume knob that allows you to control your loop level.
We love the fact that they’ve added an automatic gain control, as you don’t have to worry about accidentally coming into the PA or interface too hot.
In terms of size, it is easily one of the most compact vocal loopers on the market, making it perfect for the small-town, gigging musician. Simply throw it in your gig bag, and you’re ready to hit the road.
Bottom Line: For a budget-friendly, easy-to-use looper, this thing is still tons of fun to loop with. If you want a vocal looper that is simple and portable without any added effects, the TC Helicon Ditto Mic Looper should be one of your top choices.
What to Consider Before Purchasing a Vocal Loop Pedal
Right off the bat, we want to address the kind of connection you’ll want to look out for when purchasing a vocal looper, as there are many other looping devices on the market that might cloud your search.
Many looping pedals utilize quarter-inch cables for the ins and outs, as they’re made for guitars and other instrument-cable devices.
For vocals, you’ll want one that allows you to connect XLR.
One of the most important characteristics to look for in a looper is how much memory it has.
To loop and layer, you will have to continuously overdub your vocals (or other instruments) until you have created your intended arrangement. Some loopers can record hours of overdubs while some can only do a few minutes.
The memory defines the limitation of your looper. Some loopers come complete with stored memory, allowing you to recall your loops and layers, even once you’ve turned the device off and back on.
Some even have memory card slots, allowing you to insert SD cards to add on even more.
If you’re just getting a loop pedal to practice at home, one with less memory will do you fine. If you’re performing hour-long shows, however, you won’t want to take the risk of running out of memory while on stage, so the more storage the better.
Quality of Sound
Depending on the type of pedal and quality of that pedal, you may end up degrading your tone from the moment you plug in your microphone. Many loop pedals that aren’t true bypass may give you the consequential “tone suck”.
You’re best bet is to not only get a pedal that is true bypass, to help preserve the natural tone of your voice and the microphone, but also a pedal that doesn’t alter your sound when on. The clearer your foundation, the better. You can always add effects later.
Synchronization features are built into some looper pedals to help you line up your overdubs and keep everything in time.
Let’s be honest; sometimes it’s incredibly difficult to get that loop perfectly on the downbeat. If you’re new to looping, this might stress you out for a bit as you get into it.
If you want to avoid any timing issues that may occur while you’re in the moment in front of a crowd of people, get yourself a pedal with synchronization capabilities.
Many of the loopers on our list have other features besides looping. Some effects such as harmonizers, pitch shifting, and reverb, are common on these types of vocal pedals. These are more-or-less multi-fx pedals with looping capabilities.
Whether or not you want to spend the extra cash to get those effects is entirely up to you.
Stay In The Loop
If you’re looking to go big and get the best voice looper of them all, we highly recommend going with the TC-Helicon Voicelive 3 Extreme. With some serious effects capabilities, 45 minutes of loop memory, and a variety of other functions that will allow you to take your vocal performance to the next level, it is easily the best vocal looper on the market.
Whether you’re using a vocal looper to write songs, arrange harmonies, or practice at home, it is one of the most useful tools in modern music.
It’s a wonder why more people don’t use them today.
We hope our vocal loop pedal guide helped narrow down your options and gave you an idea of what to keep an eye out for.