Boss ME-25 Multi-Effects Pedal Review
- Pros: Affordable and intuitive, with good sound quality, ten amp models and all major types of effects.
- Cons: Limited when it comes to live use, other pedals have many more effects and navigating between presets could be easier.
- Overall: Perfect for those looking for a core supply of effects on a budget, but falls short for experienced multi-effects users and gigging musicians.
The Boss ME-25 is Boss’ update of the ME-20 and the smaller sibling of the Boss ME-70. The most instantly appealing element of the pedal is its low price, but Boss has a reputation for quality, so you know right off the bat that this isn’t going to be a discount option. The GT series may dwarf the MEs when it comes to the number of footswitches and the array of options they provide, but that doesn’t mean you should discount them entirely. If you’re hoping to save a bit of cash and still get a solid pedal, the Boss ME-25 might be the one for you.
Stripped to the Basics
It’s best to think of the Boss ME-25 as a more simplistic version of the ME-70, with only three pedals and a considerably less daunting array of dials and buttons. It’s less than a foot wide and only seven and a half inches back to front, so it’s pretty portable for a multi-effects unit. Packed into the black metallic unit are a total of 60 amp models and effects, with each multi-effect creation stored in one of 60 memory locations.
Ten COSM pre-amps were modeled for the Boss ME-25, and these are primarily based on legendary amp sounds. You can choose between Fender Bassman and Twin Reverb, a Vox or Mesa/Boogie combo, vintage and modern Marhsalls, the classic Mesa/Boogie Dual Rectifier, a Peavey 5150 and Boss-created options for both the clean sound and “Ultra” metal. The selection doesn’t quite live up to the numbers you’ll find on other pedals, but for many players it will be more than enough.
You also get a wide range of effects with the Boss ME-25, including three compressors, ten types of distortion, four delays, two reverbs, eight modulators (including phaser, octave, chorus and flangers) and four dedicated pedal effects. The majority of these effects are generic sounds, as opposed to being modeled after specific stomp-boxes, but there are a couple of famous distortions, including Boss’ own OD-1 and the Ibanez Tube Screamer 808. The names are easy to follow, though, so you always know what you’re going to get when you dial in an effect, and the quality of the sounds is consistently high.
There is also a looper on-board the Boss ME-25, which has the capacity for 38 seconds of mono looping. It works really easily – you hold the “Solo” pedal down for two seconds to put the unit into looping mode, and then tap it again to start recording. Then you can rock out and record your first phrase, hitting the footswitch again when you’re done. Playback starts automatically, and then you can go through the recording process again to overdub and layer your guitar sound. This is a great additional feature for the unit, but the looping functionality is basic in comparison to the specialist loopers available through Boss.
The “Super Stack” function effectively beefs up your guitar tone to make you sound more like a rock god sporting a roadie-busting wall of speakers. It adds weight to the low-end, giving your tone a boost in thickness. You can also add a “Freeze” effect to your playing, which is basically a lasting sustain that you control with the on-board expression pedal. This means you can strum a chord and let it ring in the background as you play a melody part.
In comparison to the connectivity options on the GT series, the Boss ME-25 is pretty limp on the back panel. It does have stereo 1/4 inch outputs (so you can use two amps, if you like) and USB connectivity (the pedal comes with the Cakewalk SONAR 8.5 LE software and a downloadable librarian), but aside from these it’s just the expected headphone and input jacks and an auxiliary input.
In a sense, the Boss ME-25 is exceptionally easy to use; everything is laid out clearly and there are three footswitches in addition to the expression pedal. However, how exactly this is all laid out presents serious problems for live playing. It is possible to use the pedal in a live setting, but it requires pre-planning and careful arrangements of your sounds. This is because two of three footswitches are to move up or down to the neighboring memory location, which effectively means that you can only cycle through your setup one configuration at a time. This issue is rectified on the GT models with the use of banks of four presets, each of which can be called up hands-free with a dedicated footswitch. On the ME-25, you can’t move from Memory 1 to Memory 5 without going through 2, 3 and 4.
On the positive side, making edits to effect parameters and changing the effects which are active in a particular memory is very simple. It’s pretty much intuitive; in “Edit” mode you just press the button for the type of effect you want, use the dial to select a variation (for example, phasers, flangers and choruses under “Modulation”) and then adjust the parameters using the dedicated dials. You won’t need the manual, but it’s testament to the user-friendly nature of the pedal that the entire instruction booklet fits into 14 pages – which is primarily made up of pictures and text boxes.
The Boss ME-25 is really suited to bedroom players and those with a basic home studio. The navigation is simple, so beginners won’t be overwhelmed, but the actual mechanics of changing between effects and making adjustments makes it pretty difficult to use live. However, if it’s your first foray into the world of multi-effects, it’s an extremely affordable way to get access to a core supply of effects. If you’re really looking for exceptional sound quality and live potential you’ll have to spend a lot more, but if you just want to have a bit of fun the Boss ME-25 is a great pedal.