For one candidate to challenge the reigning BOSS Loop Station line, there’s rival VOX. While they’re both loopers with some things to stomp on, the designs are quite different. The BOSS units can store up to three hours and 99 phrases; the VOX VDL1 stores two loops with a total recorded time of 90 seconds. Nor do you get the utility of the BOSS’ USB storage transfer. And the Vox is mono, whereas the BOSS is stereo.

In place of those features, the VDL1 focuses more on live looping and effects:

  • Live effects: Pedal/Wah (Clean/Comp/Crunch/Overdrive/Distortion), Mod (Chorus 1/Chorus 2/Flanger/Phaser/Tremolo), Bass (Electric 1-4/Synth 1/ Synth 2), Acoustic (four models). Pitch, stutter, EQ, delay, reverb, “sci-fi.”
  • Loop effects: volume, crossfade, reverse, “loop in loop” (no idea on that one), pitch, speed, scrube, stutter, mod, filter, delay.
  • Master limiter.
  • Mono input jack, mic in (no phantom power)
  • Undo and redo in overdubbing.
  • Infinite layers.

In other words, looping is about all these two approaches have in common. BOSS makes what’s really a looping sampler with stereo recording, tons of storage, and connectivity via USB, all in a mobile form factor. VOX makes a bigger box that’s mono, uses only enough sample length as you’d need in a live performance, and does effects. The BOSS is a stereo looping sampler; the VOX a mono multi-effects looper.

I have to say, in terms of what I’d want to play with or hear someone else play with, I prefer the BOSS’ focus on sampling to another box with loads of built-in effects. But the fact that you can choose between two boxes says that you as the musician really get to choose what you want in looping in the first place.

And in an industry in which you often have to choose between two pieces of gear that are nearly identical, here are two pieces of gear that are totally different, but each appear to be pretty good at being what they are. Kudos on that to both BOSS (Roland) and VOX (Korg).

I’m curious to hear your take. [Note: Vox’s site was very much up and down at press time]