Boss ME 25 Review – Guitar Multi-Effects Processor

Boss is a division of Roland Corporation, a Japanese manufacturer, specialising in musical equipment and accessories. Boss started its operation in mid 1970's and is known for effect pedals for bass and electric guitars. Their launch of 6 game changing pedals in 1977, consisting of Overdrive (OD-1), Phaser (PH-1), Spectrum (SP-1), Equalizer (GE-6), Compressor (CS-1 ) and Auto Wah (TW-1 ) followed by Distortion (DS-1) in 1978, allowed BOSS to establish its identity as one of the industry leaders.

Their current manufacturing portfolio includes compact, twin and multi-effect pedals, pedalboards, electronic tuners, digital studios, samplers, solid sate amplifiers and other electronic equipment. Their units are manufactured in Taiwan and Malaysia. Today, they are one of the leaders in the field of Multi-effects (Multi-FX) pedals.

Multi-effects Units (Multi-FX units or MEU) combine different types of sounds in one unit. Advancement in digital technology, lead to very powerful processors and vastly improved Digital Signal Processing (DSP) capabilities. With this, multi-effects have almost become "all-in-one" oversized pedals, where you can tweak the effects like on an individual pedal. They may not offer the same sound and flexibility as traditional effect pedals as yet, but things are improving fast and it is only a matter of time when they will match all features of individual effect types.

Things To Consider Before Buying A Multi-effects Pedal

Multi-effects units vary a lot in terms of effects and features they provide. These differences are with respect to effect modelling, effects covered, availability of built in amp, cabinet modelling, connectivity etc. Hence, it is essential for you to be clear what you want your MEU to do. We will introduce you to some of these factors worth considering before making a purchase:

  • Pedalboards Vs Multi-effects? - The choice here is between individual pedals, multi-effects or a combination of both. Individual pedals allow you more customisation based on your style. Multi-effects, on the other hand, are designed to work with amplifiers and focus on effects simulation. MEU should have an adequate number of effects and footswitches to control all that you want.
  • Do I need an amp? - MEU with Amp and cabinet modelling does not require any other pedal or amplifier. You can perform live or in the studio directly by plugging your guitar to the unit and PA system. However, you will require a high end system to remove the guitar amplifier circuit.
  • Amp Modelling? - In this feature, while you are still using your amp, the entire tone comes from the MEU. The unit has a vast library of tones and effects to effectively model the amp. In this case the cabinet emulation needs to be disabled. In this scenario, your sound is not dependent on the amp you are using.
  • Audio Connectivity? - Different options include amp control, effect loops, digital outs, line outs etc. More the audio outputs, higher the price of the unit. More outputs are required if you do not intend to use the amplifier circuit or want to connect the effect loop to your amplifier's effect loop between the preamp and power amp stage.
  • Digital connections? - Do you require digital connections like USB, MIDI, S/PDIF in your MEU. Of course, any additional feature will increase the cost of the gear. USBs are used for updating the device software by applying patches or for recording purposes. MIDI connection is usually available only on high-end units and is used to control effects and amp emulations from a separate PC or a MIDI controller. S/PDIF allows digital transfer of audio to a mixing desk or any other audio interface.

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ME-25

Boss ME-25

PRO's & CON's of Boss ME-25

Any technology or any device, for that matter, will score over its competitors in some areas and lag in others. You must apprise yourself with the Pros and Cons of any device, to take an informed decision about its worth, before committing. Let us look at some of them for ME-25.

Pros

  • The construction is very sturdy and rugged. Virtually indestructible
  • Can be used as an audio interface if connected to the computer.
  • Relatively affordable, intuitive with respectable quality and variety of sounds. Good option for beginners, willing to learn about different effects and experiment with them.
  • It comes with SONAR DAW software for free.

Cons

  • It’s hard to tweak during performances unless you have saved presets. Hence it has limited use when it comes to live situations. Also, some wish that navigating between presets could be easier.
  • Loop effect does not give you much length with only 38 Sec. This may be limiting for some.
  • Suitable for intermediate giggling. Falls short for experienced effect's users.
  • Many users find the Boss ME-25 manual confusing and vague. They expect better and clear instructions and instructional videos.

Features and Benefits

To appreciate any device and its conformance to our requirements, we must thoroughly go through the main features and their benefits of the devie under consideration and compare them with those of contemporary technologies and devices. Let us highlight key features of ME-25 first.

Composite Object Sound Modelling (COSM)

ME-25 deploys a full complement of powerful COSM amp models. COSM is a proprietary technology associated with sound modelling of popular classic and modern musical instruments and devices like guitars, amplifiers, speakers, microphones and cabinets. It was first released by Roland in 1995 for VG-8 V guitar system and has continued to evolve and improve ever since and is now used in keyboards, digital recorders, mixers, etc.

COSM constitutes of Electronic modelling (vacuum tubes, transistors, and all other electronic components), Magnetic modelling (guitar pickups, amp transformers, speakers etc), Physical modelling (materials used in construction of an instrument like the type of wood, the metal parts or the finish) and Harmonic modelling (strings, organs etc).

The multi-FX units utilizing COSM, use very fast Digital Signal Processing technology to model all the components and alter the guitar sound, providing great quality while retaining the subtle and expressive nuances of your playing. The range in ME-25 covers 10 COSM amp models and other onboard effects, ranging from classics to contemporary. These 10 amp models include the new ultra metal feature, that offers hi-gain distortion for die-hard metal fans.

Super Stack

This feature allows you to emulate the sounds of large stack type tube amplifiers, notwithstanding the fact that you are connected to a small amplifier in actual. Pressing the superstack button activates the feature and adds considerably to the low end and provides a big punch.

Customizable Sound Libraries

Boss ME-25 has 60 Nos of customizable presets or ready to use tones, arranged into the Sound Library. Each preset is an effect template, with their settings, that can be used to create high quality tones of your choice. You can even create effect combinations using these. The sound library is organised into six categories of tones - Clean, Lead, Drive, Crunch, Heavy and Extreme. Each of the categories has 10 variations. The effects are organised in seven groups to simply choose from - Comp/FX, OD/DS, Preamp, Modulation, Delay, Reverb, Pedal FX.

You can simply choose a category and then select a variation from the sound library and edit them to your liking using the edit mode. You can edit the effect's parameters or simply switch off any specific effect and store it back to the memory.

To edit and store, use dedicated front panel knobs - Drive, Tone & Level with Expression pedal and the Write button. Expression pedal controls the number of pedal effects like octave up / down, wah, freeze effect and even allows you to create swells (gradual increase followed by gradual decrease) in pitch and volume. In ON position, expression pedal controls the pedal FX and in OFF position, it controls the volume.

You can also download free Librarian software from the manufacturer's website. The software permits you to perform an on screen edit and storage of the desired sounds. With the software, you can store hundreds of presets on your computer and swap the desired ones with those onboard.

Controls

Black background with white knobs and buttons provides the perfect contrast and makes them clearly visible and accessible. Boss ME-25 effects pedal has four knobs, nine backlit buttons, an expression pedal, enlarged LED panel and three footswitches to control its entire functions.

In built tuner, Phrase looper and Recording Features.

ME-25 has a built in chromatic tuner to let you tune your guitar quickly. If you want to record the piece of music you have been experimenting with, ME-25 provides you two options:

  1. 1
    It has a phrase loop function that allows you 38 seconds of recording time.
  2. 2
    You can record longer durations, using the USB connection as audio recording interface to your favorite Digital Audio Workstation (DAW).

External Connections and Interfaces

ME-25 has provisions for the following connections and interfaces:

  1. 1
    Input jack: To connect with your guitar through an instrument cable.
  2. 2
    Stereo Phones 3.5 mm Output Jack: To connect with PA system, headphones, hard disk, multi track recording inputs or any other line level device.
  3. 3
    L/Mono Output Jack: To connect to a mono guitar amp. You can connect stereo guitar amp by using both stereo and Mono output jacks.
  4. 4
    Built-in AUX input: Aux Input can be used for jamming along with external music devices (MP3, Ipod, CD players, etc.)
  5. 5
    USB Connection: You can connect ME-25 to your PC with the ordinary USB cable and stream data and audio between the two. As highlighted above, with this audio recording interface, you PC will act as a personal recording studio. The same connection can be used to work like an audio interface. Cakewalk SONAR 8.5 LE software, dozens of audio loops, rhythms and songs are included as part of ME-25 package. SONAR allows multi track sound and MIDI recording.

Construction

The pedal has a sturdy metallic enclosure of dimensions of 300 x 191 x 72 mm and weighs around 1.9 kg.

Power Supply

Boss ME-25 works on 6 AA batteries or an AC Adapter (Boss PSA - series) providing 9V DC power supply to the unit. You are required to procure batteries or adapter separately. The unit draws 150 mA current to function. Expected battery life under continuous operation is 9 hrs (Alkaline) or 3 hrs (Carbon batteries).

Social Proof of the Pedal

We present some of the reviews which echoes the sentiments of the majority of the Boss ME-25 users. You must, however, look for reviews of the product on the web to satisfy yourself, before purchasing.

Boss ME-25 Review 01

The reviewer did his research before purchasing and is satisfied with the performance of the unit. He recommends it for intermediate guitarists.

Boss ME-25 Review 02

The reviewer had used previous version of Boss Multi-effects Unit and is happy with additions in ME-25, such as more effects & customisations, audio interface via USB and free software SONAR LE 8.5

Boss ME-25 Review 03

This reviewer, though happy with the unit itself, expresses his dissatisfaction with the Boss Me 25 manual. The contents of the manual are not very clear to him. Same sentiment has been shared by other users about the manual itself and lack of any instructional video from the manufacturer.

In Conclusion

To sum up the discussion, Boss ME-25 is a very good multi effects pedal for beginner and intermediate players & for those who have budget constraints. It's robust construction makes it roadworthy and it's range of versatile sounds with easy to use navigation makes it a good choice to dive into the world of effect pedals.

Features like COSM amp models, super stack, phrase loop, sound library, Librarian software to update the sound library, USB interface and SONAR software to carry out multi track sound and MIDI recording makes ME-25 a dream processor for guitarists who want great sound and ease of use.

It will be your perfect companion for years. Do check it out below !!

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