Boss ME-80

Started by Elantric, January 23, 2014, 05:53:45 AM

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A lot of old-school guitarists will turn tail and run at the sight of a multi-effects unit. But multi-effect fear isn't altogether irrational, because, let's face it, a lot of multi-effect pedals and rack units are bears to work with, especially when time is short and you just want to plug in and play.

With the new ME-80, however, Boss clearly prioritized ease of use, and this surprisingly utilitarian, powerful, and portable unit is relatively simple to operate, a lot of fun, and great for home demo studios, small, informal gigs, and even unorthodox tinkerers who like the straightest possible line to the most possible sounds.

Tough, Easy to Toss Around
The ME-80 is built for moving from place to place fast, and while it's not super-light, it's sturdy as hell, with an almost entirely metal enclosure and chassis. Apart from the knobs and switches, there's very little plastic.

You can also power the ME-80 with six AA batteries, which means you can pick it up and move from room to room, or go from jamming through headphones in the kitchen to blasting through your amp—all with the uncomplicated glee of a kid toting around his battery-powered keyboard. If you're a busker, play pub gigs, or perform at the farmer's market, this kind of portability can be invaluable.

The addition of USB connectivity maximizes the creative potential of the ME-80 too. Once you've downloaded the ME-80 software, you can literally be writing a riff with the device in the backyard and capture the same sounds on your DAW up in your office a few minutes later.

Obviously, the ME-80 isn't the first multi-effect unit or modeler to deliver portability and connectivity. Devices like Line 6's POD and Boss' own GT-100 have similar capabilities, and the ranks of tablet- and smartphone-based guitar interfaces seem to grow daily. But the ME-80 offers an interface that's much more familiar and intuitive to the typical stompbox user, and arguably, a whole lot more fun to play with than other devices.

The ME-80 offers an interface that's much more familiar and intuitive to the typical stompbox user, and arguably, a whole lot more fun to play with than other devices.
For starters, the ME-80's interface is basically a little hive of stompboxes. Each of the four footswitches closest to the guitarist is a bypass switch dedicated to one of four effects groups: compression and FX1 (which includes a ring modulator and acoustic simulator among others), overdrive and distortion, modulation, and delay (which also includes a looper). Three footswitches above and to the left of the four main effect switches activate a preamp simulation section, an EQ/FX2 section (which also includes a second phaser, delay, and looper), and a reverb control.

Each effects group has a dedicated set of knobs, including one that selects a specific amp or effect type. To the right of the footswitches, there's an expression pedal for operating pedal effects (wah, talk box, Whammy-style octave up and down functions, and more). You can also use the pedal as an expression pedal to control modulation rates and delay level.

The two leftmost pedals in the top row also let you select presets when in "memory" mode, which is activated by the upper right switch. There's a raft of cool factory presets. But creating your own is a straightforward, three-step process.

Sound Horizons
The sounds inside the ME-80 range from really good to passable, depending on the effect or amp. Some voices, sounds, and effects—the "tweed" amp, the delays, and the tremolo effect—have a warm, organic quality and relatively natural dynamic response. Others—heavy phase settings, the ring mod, and most of the heavy distortions—more readily betray their digital roots.

The effects typically put function before freak-out potential: There's few deep, ambient space verbs and fractured delay sounds to be found here. Still, with a bit of tinkering and an adventurous spirit you can create a lot of unusual, recording-worthy textures, and the right pairings can make the ME-80 sound very lush.


Super portable. Tons of sounds. Easy to use. Nice sounding delays and modulation effects.

Some effects and high-gain distortions have a digital edge.


Ease of Use:





Mating the rotary effect and the spacious and spacey "tera echo" delay along with a sustain-heavy compressor and a Vox-like combo-amp simulation generates an expansive, swirling, sci-fi/psychedelic tapestry. The "harmonist" (which can be set for thirds, fourths, fifths, sixths or an octave above and below) and a little boost and tape echo will make you sound like Duane and Dickey without the expense and hassle of a second guitarist.

There are some peculiarities to get used to on the ME-80. For one thing, you have to keep effect levels for modulation and delay effects uniform with OD and comp effects if you're using more than one effect. For example, if you're about to launch into the Uni-Vibe segment of raging Hendrix solo and the "uni-v" effect level is too low, you'll experience a highly anti-climatic signal cut for the whole effects chain rather than for just the selected effect level. This type of signal cut might makes sense when you're trying to keep a hot fuzz in check, but it makes less sense for other effects. The workaround is to create a preset. But if you prefer to play without them you have to be careful about effect balance.

The Verdict
The features covered here represent just a fraction of what the ME-80 can do. And while the ME-80 is not without limitations (most often these are fair tradeoffs for simplicity), it's a smart, streamlined way of getting a lot of sounds for very little dough.

Some sounds, like the delays, combo, and tweed amp voices are a real pleasure to use and have a relatively organic feel. Others—most notably the high-gain distortions—exhibit a more digital edge and lack the touch and reactivity of the genuine article. The unit definitely sounds best when paired with a tube amp with a neutral EQ setting. But cleaner sounds are effective with a good PA when you use the internal speaker simulator and dial up a sweetening EQ that massages highs and mids.

The real magic of the ME-80 is it's ability to deliver so many reasonably convincing sounds in a sturdy package you can power with a pack of AAs or DC adaptor. That means a wealth of possibilities for remote performance and production. If all you have is a set of headphones, you can practice anywhere. Hook the ME-80 up to a battery-powered amp and you can play for the rest of the world at any location—say, jams on a mountaintop—with all the functionality of a traditional, familiar pedalboard.

Taken together, the ME-80 is a set of smart design compromises in a multi-effect unit so affordable and easy to interact with that it rarely feels like any kind of compromise at all.



go to the 6minute mark and listen to Paul Youngblood's announcement of "BossTone Central" - where he implies that an online "ToneStudio" application will allow sharing of presets for multiple products. This might include the GR-55 eventually  - its implied, since the GR-55 is  featured on the Boss guitar site


Any new info about the price for the ME80 (after NAMM)?

Music was my first love and it will be my last (JOHN MILES)


I really like the ME80 , lots of good patches and the Mac/PC editor has power.  Too bad its not USB class compliant.


Quote from:  papabuss on January 24, 2014, 01:02:04 PM
Any new info about the price for the ME80 (after NAMM)?
Just got the info. Will be about  UVP 330 €uro in Germany...

Music was my first love and it will be my last (JOHN MILES)


ME-80 is $299 street price in USA


Fair(er) price.
THOMANN offers it for 279,-€
Think I could get it cheaper if I'd ask my dealer... ;)

P.S. Studied some brochures but are there any features/functions that the VG99 doesn't have? (Except the 8 Pedals...)

Music was my first love and it will be my last (JOHN MILES)


Its all about access to the user controls, True - there is nothing in the ME-80 that does not already exist in the VG-99, its simply the easy access with 30 control knobs and easy ability to control them with 8 footpedals  - for most Guitarists used to individual stomp FX boxes, they can actually understand and use the ME-80, by contrast the VG-99 frustrates too many guitarists because they cant understand the signal flow and they feel overwhelmed like sitting at the controls of a jet airplane.     


Only just had a look at the ME-80. Its a revamped GT-8...!!! And sounds the same to my ears
RRP £229 in the UK
You'd get the same with an ebay GT-8,the editor program and a midi to USB lead at less price

And revamping classic pedals ???



.....Boss Tone Studio software now finally available (27 Feb)  :)

Music was my first love and it will be my last (JOHN MILES)

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I just got one of these really cheap. I'm finding it remarkably fun to tweak sounds just by turning knobs without menu screens...and it runs on batteries. Pretty cool...


I also located one very cheap  ($175) - will be here tuesday

I like the ME-80 Knob user interface and pedals which is crucial to me at live gigs - we are typically playing many different clubs and nothing is worse than battling  an LCD Menu and a "Q" Dial to edit a few fx parameters on the fly - ME-80 control layout is point and shoot  - just like a real pedal board
I suspect this is your post

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I couldn't pass it up for $150 on CL. I was going to give it to a friend, but I'm thinking it would make a great stomp style box into a combo in my jam room at home for anybody to use. It really is fun to actually dial in sounds, and the learning curve is almost non-existent. 


Boss ME-80 works well for me (used $175) - connect to your computer via USB ( works as USB Audio interface for Mac/PC) or just connect a 3.5mm TRS cable from iPhone/ iPad /Android  / Sony M10 recorder headphone out and feed the AUX/MP3 input on ME-80 and connect headphones (ATH-M50X) to ME-80 headphone output to enable the internal Speaker cab simulation and hear and jam along with Anything you feed it. Surprised how well this works and its very clean and quiet on 6 AA batteries I get 90% close to any tone I need

I love the dedicated knobs for each function - and battery power means I can use ME-80 with a Cube Street EX for stereo guitar FX while busking!

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I agree...anyone that can find one of these cheap will be pleasantly surprised. It's a fun unit.


One cool aspect of the Boss ME-80 - the delay tails remain when you toggle the Delay FX off, and I find the unit has a lot of clean headroom and much less hiss compared to my Zoom G3 / G5   

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Yup, the delay trails are nice, and the hold function is really useful for ambient stuff. I've been playing with it for a few weeks now, and it's definitely worth $150-$200 if you can get it used. I talked the guy down to $150 from $180 on CL. He didn't really know what the unit was, especially since I knew more about it than he did just from reading about it. It's something that I'll keep for a long time as a backup, and leave it hooked up to my second rig in my jam room. It definitely sounds better into a tube amp than a full range, unless you plug something (dummy plug) in to the record out to engage the speaker sim.

All of my friends who have played with it are impressed with the sound quality and easy layout. I was originally going to give it away, but it's too much fun to let go of...


I just scored a lightly used ME80. That should cover my needs for an upcoming covers gig.

What happens when you plonk an ME80, a GP10 and Codesmart's MIDX-10 on a pedalboard? :)


You'l wish you ordered the MIDX-20  - because you need TWO USB Host ports  - One USB Host for ME-80, another USB Host for GP-10

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I've got a MIDX-20 ordered. It sure would be cool if the guitar out on the GP-10 could be post guitar modeling, but before any amps/effects ,so I could feed it into the ME-80.


Just starting looking into one of these since I'm looking for a dedicated multi FX unit. the GR-55 is good for some applications live, but if I'm doing pure electric work I want something that gives me more control over a group of eight simultanious effects at a time. My one question is, what would be the best setup for plugging directing into a PA? I'm debating between between this and the pod hd500x from Line 6 which I know for a fact sounds great plugged in direct, but as a blind user, ease of use is comparable... and the me-80's tactile interface is very tempting.


Hello there!!!
Is a way to have minimum volume level ,example 70%,  with the built in expression pedal?
(Maybe gumtown have a solution to this?!!!)
Thanks in advance!

QuoteDavidghost said: ↑
Help needed. Recently picked up ME-80. I play electric violin through it and can get some amazing sounds from it and save and bank them. Here's the problem.... I can't phrase loop these as they are in memory mode. I can only loop in Manuel mode. Aarrggg... I'm looking to loop live with my own custom sounds. If anyone can help,advise or just laugh at me, please do so. Thanks

Moe45673 wrote>
There is a way to change from memory to manual mode where, instead of manual mode just being where the knobs are set, it makes it so that the footswitches shut off and on the individual effects of that patch (obviously where the knobs are set don't matter). From the manual:

Another option would just be to buy a dedicated looper and stick it after your ME-80. For performers who use looping as a huge part of their thing, that's likely the best way to go in any case.


Boss ME-80 poorly documented secret , its designed to run into a front input on a normal guitar amp -and most will ditch it after trying ME-80 1/4" Main outputs into powered PA cabs results in treble buzzy harsh sound.

Just carry a 3.5mm TRS dummy plug to connect to ME-80 headphone output jack-which enables the  internal speaker cab sim- finally ME-80 sounds great straight to PA