In the hunt for that ever elusive truly transparent clean boost pedal, we guitarists often audition countless so-called clean boosts with scrutinizing ears. And every now and then we plug into an unassuming little stompbox that really surprises us. The Xotic RC Booster is one of those pedals. In our Xotic RC Booster review, I’ll help you decide if this is the best guitar clean boost pedal for you.
Let’s run down the features of this pedal and dive right in to our review.
Active Treble, Bass, Gain, and Volume controls for limitless tone shaping
Offers super transparent 20db+ clean boost
2-Band active EQ with 15db boost or cut
True Bypass for eliminating any signal interference when switched off.
Strengthens signal to provide a solution for sound degradation caused by long instrument cables and/or long effect chains
Sound & Performance:
I pulled this pedal right out of the box with zero expectations and plugged it between my American Stratocaster and a crystal clear clean channel. I wasn’t expecting what was to happen next.
I set all the knobs to high noon, struck a chord, and kicked it in.
I surely had the strangest look on my face. I reached down and cut the gain back closer to 9 o’clock and cut the volume to around 11 o’clock to achieve unity gain. Then I hit the true bypass footswitch repeatedly, just strumming and listening.
I listened in disbelief, still wearing a dumb look on my face. This is indisputably one of the most transparent pedals I have ever heard.
Wow. I could already tell that this pedal is something special. I suddenly felt a little silly for underestimating the RC Booster.
With the Gain and Volume settings resting at their amazingly transparent positions, I proceeded to push up the Treble a bit followed by the Bass.
The EQ controls are extremely sensitive. Make no mistake about how vital these controls can be to shaping your sound. The 15db EQ boost is very noticeable and can make a huge difference in the frequency levels of your tone without a hint of coloration. Be careful with the EQ. You’re wielding a lot more power here than you may realize.
Need to fatten up your low-end? Push up the Bass. Even a hint will make plenty of difference. Do your pickups have too much bite? Cut back the Treble a notch and roll-off the harshness from your sound.
The EQ controls also have little notches at the 12 o’clock postion. This lets you find the exact position where they have no effect on the frequency. Perfect if your guitar tone already sounds balanced and you just need a boost.
I couldn’t resist pulling out my humbucker-equipped Gibson SG and doing some A/B sound matching with my single-coiled Strat. I played the SG straight and then used the RC Booster to “beef up” the Strat to be able to hang with the SG. Not a hint of the Strat’s inherent character was lost. This is vital if you want to even out the levels of your different guitars during a live set.
There is a very nice level of sustain that can be achieved by pushing the gain a bit. It’s beautiful on clean sounds or for a smooth solo boost on your dirty channel. This pedal can also really help push your amp into overdrive, another testament to the RC Booster’s versatility.
While this pedal performs exceptionally well as a clean volume boost with both humbucker and single-coil pickups, I find it very useful for additional tone-shaping with an already great-sounding amp. The EQ is so responsive that it’s not to be underestimated what this alone can bring to your overall sound. It’s that same transparent EQ that fans of Xotic’s BB Preamp and AC Booster will appreciate. Considering this pedal’s subtle tone-enhancing qualities, you may just want to leave the RC Booster on all the time.
It’s great at the beginning or the end of your effects chain. If you’re a tone-chaser like me, you may appreciate the fact that the RC Booster is true bypass. But when using several true bypass guitar pedals in your effects chain that don’t provide a signal buffer, the RC Booster becomes essential at the end of your chain for reclaiming any lost highs and lows from your tone. I tried it with a half-dozen pedals in line with excellent results.
I like this pedal. I like it a lot. I have a feeling you will, too. Let’s see the final result.
The Xotic RC Booster surprised me like few other pedals ever have before. The RC Booster is one of the most transparent pedals I have ever plugged into. The wide-range EQ controls are superbly voiced to allow perfect tailoring of your sound without coloring your tone whatsoever. This is one of those pedals for connoisseurs of clarity and purity of tone. It will satisfy the most discerning ears. The Xotic RC Booster is definitely a contender for the best guitar clean boost pedal out there. You’d be wise to give one of these a try if you’re looking for a pure clean boost.
That concludes our Xotic RC Booster review. Thanks for reading.
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