BOSS ME-25 Multiple Effects Box
A large range of stomp box effects in one easy to manage unit
Text, photos and video by Tom Hintz
Posted – 10-29-2012
One of the more frightening truths about playing an electric guitar today is that you can easily fill a large stage with nothing but stomp boxes and not have any two that are identical. And that doesn’t touch the stage-load of cash you would need to buy all of those boxes. The good news is that people like BOSS have worked their electronics magic and stuffed many of those single stomp boxes into one manageable unit. In this case the BOSS ME-25 Multiple Effects Box that I review here.
The BOSS ME-25 Multiple Effects Box is a three button, one pedal box that lets you make and store 60 different sounds (it comes with 60 ready to use sounds) using the dozens of classic and modern amp models and effects that are built in. Just choose a category, select the variation, and play. You can also customize that sound with using the Drive, Tone, and Volume knobs that actually control the major features of the sound you are editing. In addition to the individual effects you have access to a bunch of COSM (Composite Object Sound Modeling) amp models, a Super Stack mode that adds a bunch of low end while generally kicking the tone in the butt and the Phrase Loop that lets you record 38 seconds to play against when it replays.
The BOSS ME-25 Multiple Effects Box has a USB audio interface that lets you download free additional sounds or save the ones you create. They also include an AUX input that lets you play along with tunes on external music devices like MP3/CD players, IPods and such. The BOSS ME-25 Multiple Effects Box can be run on six AA batteries or AC adaptor (9V) that is purchased separately, which I did. I couldn’t see feeding the BOSS ME-25 Multiple Effects Box AA’s for long.
BOSS includes a DVD with Cakewalk SONAR 8.5 LE software and dozens of audio loops, rhythms and songs you can play along with. You can also download Librarian software and more sounds from their site at BOSSUS.com. The disk also includes the USB driver but not one for 64-bit machines. They have the 64-bit driver on their site though which is where I got mine and it works fine.
The BOSS ME-25 Multiple Effects Box has four foot-operated switches, two for scrolling (up and down) through the 60 available sounds and one that boosts the sound for lead breaks or when pressed for 2 or more seconds enables loop recording. This same switch also allows literally “tapping out” a pace for some of the effects. Finally there is a more common looking rocking pedal that can be used simply for volume or for Wah, pitch bending and something BOSS came up with called Freeze which we look at more closely in the video. With the pedal in the full on (forward) position you press harder on the toe and the Pedal Effects are engaged. To turn the Pedal Effects off you have to again go to full volume and press harder on the toe momentarily.
The BOSS ME-25 Multiple Effects Box also has a built in tuner that works easily and is accessed by stepping on both of the scrolling switches. They also added an adjustable noise suppressor that lets you dial out garbage noise from pickups and wiring. Just be aware that the more you dial out the bigger impact this system has on the sound levels later so you are still better off buying good chords and stuff to get the static and hum levels as low as possible.
The back panel has the normal power in (9V), USB, mono and/or stereo outputs, a ¼” headphone jack and an input for IPods and such for jamming. The standard looking input jack also functions as the ON/OFF switch, turning the BOSS ME-25 Multiple Effects Box ON when the plug is inserted and OFF when the plug is removed.
The Librarian software is nice in that it lets you store you own sounds and change their name to something you will remember or that describes the sound as you want. You do not have to connect the BOSS ME-25 Multiple Effects Box to the computer to edit or save sounds. You only connect to the computer to save the sounds to the hard drive or to download sounds into the BOSS ME-25 Multiple Effects Box to replace some of the ones already there.
If you are a somewhat normal human at least some of the 60 sounds included in the BOSS ME-25 Multiple Effects Box will suck to you. That’s actually a good thing because you can replace the ones that suck to you with sounds you build. Push the Write and Exit buttons at the same time and you enter the editing mode where you are able to tweak, add or remove effects from the sound to build the one you want. You literally build the sound from the type of amp to the type of effects that are applied.
The Drive, Tone and Volume dials function as labeled when setting up an amp model. For other effects categories a chart in the instruction manual shows what the Drive, Tone and Volume knobs control for that effect. You can even set the volume level to control the maximum available at the pedal for each sound. As you make changes you can actually hear how they change the sound so there is no editing in the blind. If there is a down side to buying the BOSS ME-25 Multiple Effects Box it is the entire afternoon you can burn up just playing with editing sounds. The possibilities really are remarkable.
I should say that it is important to pay attention when plugging the BOSS ME-25 Multiple Effects Box in, especially the first time. I apparently had moved the volume pedal to wide open and when I plugged the guitar cord in which also turns the BOSS ME-25 Multiple Effects Box on (no traditional ON/OFF switch) my Peavey ValveKing amp went nuts with volume and feedback that may have paralyzed moderately sized mammals in the vicinity. Make no mistake about it, the BOSS ME-25 Multiple Effects Box can deliver lots of power and makes full use of the aftermarket pickups like the Parsons Street™ Humbucking Pickups in my Super Guitar!
I spent the first couple of hours just exploring the effects. I started out with a very basic “Clean” sound and applied the various effects to that so I could hear how they sounded. Then I dialed up a Vintage Marshal Stack and played with all of the parameters. If you have a sound in your head the BOSS ME-25 Multiple Effects Box can more than likely create it if you spend enough time tweaking the myriad of options. This really is a pedal box that will leave your creativity hanging out.
The BOSS ME-25 Multiple Effects Box could very well be the answer for those who can’t decide on where to put their stomp box dollars to maximize their impact. The range of effects and available tweaks to the sound let you replicate the flexibility of dozens of individual stomp boxes and keep up to 60 of those combinations accessible whenever you need them. The cost savings are big but the convenience whether you play on stage, in a studio or like me, in an office with nobody but cats for an audience can be even bigger. You can set up 60 totally different sounds that you can change in less time than it takes to change guitars!
BOSS has been around a long time and has been respected for their effects the whole time. The BOSS ME-25 Multiple Effects Box certainly does nothing but further that reputation. With a street price of $199.00 (10-26-2012) the BOSS ME-25 Multiple Effects Box represents a great way to extend your effects money while setting all of your creativity loose.