When I sat down to write this Donner Circle Looper Review I thought to myself, “A looping pedal a 1/4 of the price of my last purchase, how can Donner possibly do this”?

After trying many of the major brand loopers, such as TC Electronics, BOSS, and Singular Sound I just felt frustrated. Three years later and I still don’t have a reliable or easy to use looping pedal in my board, whats going on ? After all, what I am doing is not really that complex in either a live situation or jamming at home.

Intrigued by the price I took a look at some reviews on the Donner Website and Amazon. It was then I started to get more curious about the reputation of this pedal.

I had been approached by Donner to take it for a test drive and thought I need a looping pedal, let’s see how this pedal effects my mental health 🙂

After all TC Electronics had me down in the torture chamber with their Ditto X4 for 2 years ( I will get to that later in article ) Why not take the Donner circle looper for a spin, so I did

In this article I am going to take you through all the aspects of this pedal from unboxing to breaking down how it works.

Watch The Video Below for full demonstrations.

So let’s dig in …

Split Down The Middle

When you look at the Donna circle looper, you have to think of it with a line down the middle.

The left hand side is the looping stuff and the right hand side is all the rhythm section stuff where the drum machine lives.

THE LOOPER

The 3 functions on the left hand  side of the pedal :

Memory where loops live

Level volume of loop

Fade out create a fade out at the end of a song.

To access or change modes you just click the looper dial – when you let go you can then adjust the settings of that mode by rotating dial. You can see this reflected on the LCD screen. All very intuitive and easy to follow.

MEMORY

Let’s start with the looping function, this is the top level light called memory.

You get 40 memory slots which can each record up to 4 minutes. Just find a slot that hasn’t got anything on it already and your right to go.

After you have recorded a loop or idea the slot is labeled as recorded:

so you clearly know if anything is living on that particular slot
All up 160 minutes memory – not bad really

LEVEL – Simply adjusts the level of loop playback.

THE LCD SCREEN

You’ll see very quickly that when looping begins a circle icon appears that goes round with the length of time used. You can actually see where you are, not sure that’s super useful as you gotta rely on your ears – but it looks cool.

You do have an overdub mode if you want to keep adding parts and go crazy or you can simply hit the stop button and the loop will continue playing. Its easy to clear out what you did by holding down the clear button. Again super simple and intuitive.

donner-circle-looper-drum-machine

Donner Circle Looper Review | YouTube

SOUND QUALITY

I noticed no loss of quality of the sound once I activated the loop. Like any looper if you start dubbing multiple times quality will drop on most loopers. The drum machine has 100 different beats from 10 genres to choose from with various time signatures, and an additional 10 metronome beats. My only gripe with the drum machine was there could of been more 3/4 beats to choose from there was one in Pop and one in Fusion but I didn’t see a country which would have been a nice addition.

THE METRONOME

The metronome like the rest of the pedal was really easy to operate.  I liked the stick sound of the metronome it didnt have a annoying beeping sound like a lot of other digital metronomes.

BUILD QUALITY

 The pedal is sturdy, knobs feel good, and the clicking foot pedals are easy to use. I certainly don’t notice anything worrying and seems like a really solid build. I think the two button controls are worlds easier to use than a single button looper however I haven’t tried any of the Donner Single Button Looper’s.

The added LED display is a nice touch and I would rather see this then the blinking light on most pedals.

Other Pedals I Tried 3 - 5 Times The Price

Live With A Looper - The Tangled Souls

Comparsions To Other Pedals

guitar-looping-pedals

I wondered whether I should really be comparing looping pedals 3-5 the price of the Donna Circle Looper and if that’s really a fair comparison. However I think if there’s an option that’s easier to operate and cheaper this pedal is worth considering

4 would be the maximum amount of dubs noodling about at home

For me its all about simplicity, and if a pedal that’s a 1/4 of the price brings me the same satisfaction and fun I thinks its worth mentioning why. I’m going to let my readers and students at learn guitar cafe know.

I WILL ADMIT I HATE USER MANUALS!

Large instruction manuals and over complicated functionality really bores me, especially when it comes to technology. Every hour I spend with my head stuck in a manual is an hour I’m not playing my guitar!

You can see from my demonstrations that I don’t do a lot of complicating looping so I don’t expect that much. I like to keep it pretty simple and just get down to the business of playing the guitar. I love technology but I must admit I get frustrated with it pretty quickly if it doesn’t go my way.

Here’s what happened with the previous pedals I purchased:
 
THE TC ELECTRONICS X4
 
 
I really liked this pedal ( when it worked) as it had a pretty clear layout and I got my head around it quickly. However I soon discovered like a lot of other people it had inherent problems. The lights began freezing up and I was constantly having to plug it into a computer to update the firmware or just tweek it out of this frozen state it would go in. I thought I may of had a lemon so I foolishly bought another one and it had all the same problems. What really tipped me over the edge was it failing at gigs – twice! I don’t carry my computer to a gig..
Support from TC Electronics was absolutely terrible and I feel like I just got duped here. My advice stay away from this pedal. TC Electronics need to have a long hard think about this pedal and invest in fixing these problems. I checked before writing this article and all the same complaints are still apparent. Interestingly no bad reviews or any reviews on their site in regards to this pedal.
 
With the Boss RC500 I just found it complicated and just overkill for what I need – Maybe the RC10 would of been a better choice but I still would of been spending $479AU.
 
The Singular Sound Aero Looper – Nothing bad to say here other then I chose a pedal that I couldn’t get my head around and wasn’t able to justify the price. However great support and totally cool about me returning it.
This Circle Looper Pedal Just Works Out Of The Box

Summing Up

So I have to say I was pretty knocked out after completing this Donner Circle Looper Review . The simplicity of this pedal was the real selling point for me and it did exactly what I wanted it to do without any fuss. While the price is very competitive I don’t think your are making a compromise on quality. Let’s just say It’s a looper at a discount price, but in my opinion it’s not a discount looper.

Who Is This Pedal For ?

As a practice tool this pedal is perfect and I would certainly recommend it to anyone getting into the world of looping. Lot’s of fun to be had here with jamming and improvising. The fact that the pedal has a looper, a drum machine and a metronome for around $120US is pretty darn cool. I spent $80 on a metronome last year so there is real value in this pedal.

Beginners

 Just remember if your a beginner you need to think about your timing when it comes to looping – play something simple first and try looping that – build your confidence first. In my mind its perfect for beginners because it has the metronome and drum machine. Focus on your timing and the looping will follow.

Soloist / Duo’s

If your a Soloist or play in a Duo like myself this pedal may satisfy your needs in a live situation. If your wanting to add vocals to the loop chain and use other instruments you may have to think this through.

I think the two button controls are worlds easier to use than a single button looper however I haven’t tried any of the Donner Single Button Looper’s. The added LED display is a nice touch and I would rather see this then the blinking light on most pedals.

Sure I don’t do a lot of really complex looping and in my mind too many overdubs can get messy. Music needs space but that’s just my opinion