Looper pedals are vastly underutilized by beginner and intermediate guitarists. They are often perceived to be unnecessary, expensive to buy, and complicated to use – and while that may have been the case in years gone by, it couldn’t be further from the truth today.
Pedals like the Donner Circle Looper have changed the game, with easy to use features and great build quality. In this KillerGuitarRigs review we got hands on with the Circle Looper to test the features and the sound quality from this budget pedal.
If you’ve been curious to get into the world of looper pedals, you’re not going to want to miss this one – keep reading to find out what we thought!
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Who Is this for?
The Circle Looper from Donner is a strong introduction into loopers for newer players, but its range of features will also keep intermediate, and even advanced players happy.
The abundance of drum loops also makes this a great for solo artists on a budget. The beats, combined with the looper functionality give the working musician an inexpensive way to accompany themselves on stage, and all for under $100.
Appearance / Features / Controls
We’ll start by pointing out that the Circle Looper is a substantial unit in both weight and footprint. It has all metal construction, which makes it as sturdy as a Boss RC-1, the pedal upon which this Donner model closely emulates.
On the top of the unit is where you’ll find all of the controls. There are 2 dials, and 2 footswitches. The left dial controls the looper functionality, including volume, memory slot selection, and the fade out time.
The dial on the right is purely for the rhythm control. From this knob you are able to select from 1 of 100 drum loops, as well as modify the volume and tempo of the beats.
The dials can also be pushed like a button in order to cycle between the modes.
The footswitches control the activation of the looper functions, and the drum machine, and can be used independently of each other. The left footswitch activates loop recording and dubbing, while the right is used to stop and start the drums, and to save, recall, or clear recorded loops.
The last button is the “Merge Control” button in the center. This button is there to turn on and off the synchronization of the looper and the drum machine.
As for inputs and outputs, there are left and right options, giving you the option of using it as a true stereo pedal, and even an external control input, allowing you to plug in an external footswitch.
We tend to find that the mark of a good pedal partially relies on our ability to operate it before opening the manual, and with the Circle Looper, we were able to not only navigate the features, but also record a multi part loop before reading a single instruction.
Our favorite feature of this pedal was by far the drum machine. Having the option of 100 different, fully adjustable grooves opens up a world of possibility not only for live performance, but also for recording, and even just for practicing. Metronomes can be difficult to play along with on guitars, but having a realistic backbeat gives newer players a great way to learn how to keep a rhythm effectively.
The looper was 44.1kHz 24-bit, which kept each layer sounding sharp, even as additional loops were dubbed on top. It has 40, 4 minute recording slots, for a total of 160 minutes of recorded audio.
The display had some great data, including a time progress tracker. This made it easy to keep track of recording progress. We would have loved to have seen a bigger display, as the LCD unit on the Circle Looper was quite tough to see from a standing position, but we wouldn’t call it a deal breaker.
As with the other donner pedals we’ve tested, there was no battery power, with a 9v DC input being the only way to run this unit. Note that there is no power supply included with this model.
If you’d like to see the Circle Looper in action, check out our demo over on the KillerGuitarRigs YouTube channel
Final Thoughts on the Donner Circle Looper Pedal
If you’re ready to channel your inner Tash Sultana or Ed Sheeran, the Donner Circle Looper is a great way to get started. It offers good sound quality, and simple operation, which are really the only things you absolutely need in a looper. Couple those with the built in drum loops, and you’ve got a killer pedal at an absurdly low price – get one while you still can!
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