The tones of a top studio. The simplicity of a stompbox.
FX is a healthy addiction. Sure, you might start out with a dash of drive, but pretty soon you’ll be chasing sounds your setup can’t deliver. If you just want another stopgap FX pedal, move along. But if you want a keeper, invest in the new Boss ME-80. Raising the spec of the Boss ME-70, and taking key features from the flagship Boss GT-100, it’s as tone-packed as a top studio, but as easy to operate as a stompbox.
Think of a box and the Boss ME-80 ticks it. Under the bonnet, an array of ultra-realistic COSM amp models replicate the coolest amps in history, and pro Boss effects are ready to give your songs wings. On the dashboard, a pedalboard-style layout of gig-friendly footswitches, intuitive controls and expression pedal let you bring the noise fast and shape it in real-time.
Live guitarists will lap up the Boss ME-80, but so too will production boffins, thanks to free Boss Tone Studio software that allows deep editing on your computer, and gives a web connection to the gig-ready patches and endless guitar content at Boss Tone Central. There’s a new Boss in town.
Metaller. Bluesman. Jazz-cat. Whatever style you play, the FX-loaded Boss ME-80 has sounds to suit. You’d expect to find world-class overdrives, wahs, mod effects, pitchshifters and delays (this is a Boss, after all). But the ME-80 goes further. Driven by Boss’s ultra-powerful Multi Dimensional Processing (MDP), you’ll turn heads with one-off effects like Tera Echo and Overtone. Direct from the Boss GT-100, uprated and ultra-realistic COSM amp models give you classic tones from rock history (including new additions like Crunch and Metal). Plus, there’s even an AC preamp for acoustic/electric guitar. Combine up to eight effects at once and edit them to perfection, but don’t forget to shape them in real-time, too, controlling parameters including volume, wah and octave shift with the rugged expression pedal.
Some multi-effects pedals are a headache, with too many layers of options making them hopeless in the heat of a gig. Designed for live, the Boss ME-80 keeps things stompbox-simple, organising effects into eight logical categories, with a footswitch to activate your choice and dedicated knobs to fine-tune it. Even the expression pedal couldn’t be more gig-friendly, taking mere seconds to change the effect or function under your heel. Better still – and unlike ‘real’ stompboxes – is that you can save your edited settings to one of the Boss ME-80’s 36 user patches, then recall them with a stomp of your cowboy boot.
Not every setlist is the same. One night, you might be playing punk, and only need a couple of overdrive effects. The next, you might be playing prog, and need complex preset tones comprising multiple effects. As such, the Boss ME-80 offers two modes for maximum convenience. In Manual mode, it functions like a lineup of stompboxes, with one effect activated by one footswitch. Switch to Memory mode, meanwhile, and pressing the footswitches will instantly activate complete ‘patches’ (ie. settings that comprise multiple effects). The eighth footswitch, meanwhile, is dedicated to mode switching, so you can toggle between Manual and Memory mode, even in the middle of a song.
Live guitarists tend to have their hands full. They’ll love the Boss ME-80, which gives almost total control over effects and parameters via eight multi-function footswitches. Whether you’re activating effects, selecting from banks of patches, switching modes or accessing functions like tap tempo, tuner and the onboard 38-second phrase looper, it’s all just a boot-stomp away. The expression pedal is ultra-flexible, too, with an integrated toe switch that toggles between foot volume and effect selection. It’s a busy pedal, but the ME-80’s newly developed layout means that eight footswitches fit into the space normally taken up by four, keeping the unit lean, mean and mobile.
Let’s say you’ve just blown the roof off with a customised patch setting, and now you want to use that tone in your new demo. That’s where the Boss ME-80’s USB connectivity kicks in, letting you connect to your Mac or Windows computer and import tones to your DAW software (or even use the USB Loopback function to ‘re-amp’ a dry track you’ve already recorded, adding effects as you listen). For flexibility, MIDI transfer over USB is also supported, letting you select ME-80 patches from your computer, send expression and control pedal data into your software, and swap patches via Boss Tone Studio.
Even as a standalone pedal, the Boss ME-80 gives plenty of scope for editing effects. For toneheads who want to go deeper, though, there’s the Boss Tone Studio application: a free download that lets you save, edit and organise your patches on your Mac or Windows computer. Why not take the time to create the ultimate nosebleed distortion on your computer – then transfer it back to the ME-80’s memory banks on the night of the gig…?
You might be stuck in your bedroom, but the Boss ME-80 keeps your finger on the pulse of the gear scene. If your computer has Internet access, the Boss Tone Studio application gives you an integrated connection to the Boss Tone Central website. A fast-growing online hub for all players that use Boss gear, it’s the place to head for artist interviews, instructional videos and the chance to download free gig-ready patches created by top guitar pros into your ME-80. And that’s just for starters…