Boss ME-25 Review
- Pros: Incredibly easy to use, affordable and great sound quality, with ten well-produced amp models and all the core effects you’re likely to need.
- Cons: Not ideal for live use because of difficulty navigating between presets. More effects and amp models are available on bigger pedals.
- Overall: For guitarists new to multi-effects, it’s a great option for getting a core supply of effects without spending too much, but it’s limited for live use and it’s nothing particularly impressive for seasoned multi-effects users.
Boss has a reputation for putting out top-end guitar effects, but you might not have the required bankroll to opt for some of the higher-end options in the GT series. The ME-25 is the smallest pedal in its series, an update to the ME-20 but with a much less daunting array of controls than the larger ME-70 or ME-80. If you’re looking to get a capable pedal, but want something user-friendly and affordable, the ME-25 is well worth consideration – but the real question is whether it’s capable enough to stand out amid the multitude of options available.
What Can it Do?
As far as multi-effects pedals go, the ME-25 is pretty compact, measuring under a foot wide and just seven and a half inches back to front, but still managing to pack in three footswitches alongside an expression pedal. In terms of buttons and dials, the ME-25 looks much more user-friendly than its bigger siblings, with fewer controls that cut right to the core functions you need.
You get a total of 60 amp models and effects, with ten COSM pre-amps in total and the remainder being effects. The number of options might not be as high as on many other pedals, but it covers most bases. The ten pre-amps are based on classics like the Mesa/Boogie Dual Rectifier, the Fender Twin Reverb and Bassman, the Peavey 5150 and both vintage and modern Marshalls, as well as a couple of options from Boss themselves (for clean and an ultra-metal sound).
For effects, you have a wide range of options, although these are ordinarily just general versions of common effects rather than being modeled after specific stomp-boxes. The effects include three compressors, ten distortions (including two specific options: the Boss OD-1 and Ibanez’s legendary Tube Screamer 808), eight modulators (like phasers, octaves, chorus and flangers), four delays, four expression pedal effects (such as wah) and two reverbs. Throughout both the amp models and the effects, the names are descriptive enough so you know what you’re doing (with the amp models making vague references to the intended sound; for example, R-Fier for the Dual Rectifier) and the sound quality is consistently top-notch. When you’ve created a sound you’re happy with (combining effects and preamps), you can store it in one of 60 onboard memory locations.
The ME-25 doesn’t just stop at the basics, though. You can hit the ominous-looking “Super Stack” button towards the top of the unit for a wall-of-speakers style sound, as if you’ve jacked your tone up on anabolic steroids. This basically boosts the low end and adds thickness to your tone, but the impact is fairly powerful. Some other nifty features include the “Freeze” option (one of the pedal effects), which is like a sustain that you can keep going indefinitely with the help of the onboard expression pedal.
The ME-25 also comes with an onboard looper, which is becoming increasingly common in effects pedals but is still a great extra. It offers you up to 38 seconds of mono looping, with unlimited overdubs. Pressing and holding the “Solo” pedal takes you into the mode, and then the same pedal becomes a “Record/Play/Overdub” switch to control the core looping functionality. In comparison to dedicated loopers (including those from Boss), it’s a fairly pathetic offering, but as an added extra on an affordable effects pedal, there’s really nothing to complain about – it’s a nice bonus executed pretty well.
For connectivity, the options on the ME-25 are limited when compared to more modern or larger units. There are stereo 1/4 inch outputs (allowing dual amp setups, if that’s your thing) with a mono input, a 1/4 inch headphone jack, a USB jack (you can download librarian software to store your creations and you also receive the Cakewalk SONAR 8.5 LE software when you buy the pedal), a 3.5 mm aux input and a spot for a DC power supply (not included).
One of the main benefits of the ME-25 in use is that the layout is pretty intuitive. The manual is a mere 14 pages – you probably won’t need it, but that illustrates just how easy the pedal is to operate. For example, making edits to specific parameters for your effects and selecting which effects are active in a given memory is incredibly straightforward. Once in “Edit” mode, pressing the dedicated button for each type of effect (such as delay or modulation) activates or deactivates it, turning the “Variation” dial selects the specific version of the effect (for example, the specific distortion you want, like the OD-1 or Tube Screamer) and turning any of the remaining dials adjusts the associated parameter. It couldn’t really be much easier, and this is one of the reasons it’s a great pedal for those new to multi-effects.
It does have its limitations if you’re looking for something to use live, however. The big problem is that the two footswitches that allow you to change memory locations only move to the next (or previous) neighboring location. This means that while it’d technically be possible to switch between effects in a live setting (by carefully arranging your memory locations accordingly), it’s far from ideal if you save your sounds in a more natural, as-they’re-made fashion. You can’t go from location one to location four without stepping through two and three first with the ME-25, but units with more pedals rectify this by having banks of memory locations, with a dedicated pedal for each specific memory location within the selected bank.
Overall, though, as long as you aren’t looking for a gigging companion, it’s hard to complain too much about the ME-25. If you’re new to effects pedals, or are just looking for something to use for playing at home or in a home studio, the simplicity and ease-of-use of the pedal (not to mention the price) make it a very appealing option. You get the basic effects and amp models you’ll use most often without superfluous extras. Of course, if you’re very serious about sound quality or are looking for advanced capabilities, you’d be better off spending more, but for casual players, the ME-25 fills its role excellently.
Boss ME-25 Demo