Hands-On Review:BOSS ME-70
Stompbox simplicity meets multi-effects convenience
By Jim Bybee
Roland Technical Writer
For grab-and-go guitar tone, nothing beats the venerable stompbox pedal. It’s easy—just pick one that makes the sound you want, plug in, twist the knobs a bit, and start wailing. For over 30 years now, BOSS has been offering an incredibly extensive line of compact pedal effects, giving guitarists (and other musicians) a well-stocked buffet of amazing tonal flavors, from distortion and overdrive effects to delays, choruses, reverbs, and beyond. Our pedals sound so great that it’s hard to stop at just one…or three…or ten! But as your pedal collection grows, so does the floor space it starts to take up. For a lot of guitarists, a large, well-populated pedalboard is a badge of honor, and that’s cool. But if you’re looking to consolidate multiple effects into a more compact and manageable package without giving up the immediacy of using stompboxes, then you should definitely check out the BOSS ME-70.
The ME-70 combines over 40 great BOSS effects into a single floor-based unit. Unlike more sophisticated multi-effects processors, the ME-70 has no menus to navigate or numerous displays to cursor through—it was designed from the ground up to work with the ease of a collection of stompboxes. The effects are organized into logical groups, and you tweak the sound with dedicated front-panel knobs, just like you do with your favorite compact pedals. Like every BOSS stompbox, it’s built to last with a rock-solid all-metal chassis, and it runs on either AC power or batteries, so it’s always ready to go where your music takes you.
There are eight separate effects groups in the ME-70 and all of them can be used simultaneously. Each group contains various effects and you can select one from each group for a total of up to eight simultaneous effects. Selecting effects and adjusting the sound is easy—just dial up the effect type and use the knobs to customize the tone. You’d think it can’t get much easier than that, but it does. Using the EZ Tone feature, you can save your favorite knob settings for each effect type, so when you dial it up, it’s ready to play!
The ME-70 has two operating modes: Manual and Memory. In Manual mode, the effects function like a floor full of stompboxes, and you can adjust any sound on the fly. There are four dedicated footswitches to turn the essential effects groups on and off, while the PEDAL FX group has it own dedicated expression pedal and integrated toe switch. (The remaining three effects groups are more of the set-and-forget variety, but you can control two of them with optional footswitches if you like.)
When you find the perfect sound with multiple effects, simply use Memory mode to save that setup as a patch for later recall. You can save up to 36 user patches, and there are also 36 great-sounding preset patches to use as starting points to create your own. When you’re in Memory mode, the four main footswitches are used to switch patches and banks.
The heart of the matter
All these great features would mean nothing if the tone wasn’t there, and tone is where the ME-70 really delivers. Inside are a ton of great BOSS-sounding effects; it’s truly a history of our processing under one hood.
The ME-70’s PREAMP group features our renowned COSM amp modeling technology and provides realistic models of six classic guitar amplifiers with familiar controls for gain and tone. If you’re using the ME-70 with a regular guitar amp, it’s likely that you won’t need to use the PREAMP group (though you may want to use the group’s EQ setting to refine the tone without adding any COSM color to the sound). But having preamps onboard gives you lots of flexibility for using the ME-70ME-70 into an effects return or a power amp, or use a COSM preamp to overdrive the front end of your guitar amp. The ME-70’s headphone/recording output features a guitar speaker simulator, allowing you to use a COSM preamp to get real amp tone when practicing or recording, and you can even use this output to drive a full-range system such as keyboard amp or PA. in other ways. For example, you can bypass an external preamp and run the ME-70 into an effects return or a power amp, or use a COSM preamp to overdrive the front end of your guitar amp. The ME-70’s headphone/recording output features a guitar speaker simulator, allowing you to use a COSM preamp to get real amp tone when practicing or recording, and you can even use this output to drive a full-range system such as keyboard amp or PA.
The OD/DS group offers 10 distortion and overdrive effects—covering everything from mild to heavy and retro to modern—and it can be used simultaneously with the PREAMP group for an unlimited number of tonal variations. The COMP/FX group contains a compressor, as well as other effects such as touch wah and BOSS originals like Slow Gear and Defretter. There’s also a pickup simulator—that converts a humbucker sound to single-coil or vice versa—and a solo boost that bumps up the volume for lead playing.
In the MODULATION group you’ll find effects such as phaser, flanger, vibrato, and tremolo, as well as rotary-speaker and Uni-Vibe® models. There’s also an intelligent harmonist, which lets you play diatonic harmonies all by yourself. Of course, the classic BOSS chorus effect is here too, delivering the shimmering goodness we’ve all come to love.
The DELAY group is all about echo, with delays up to 6,000 milliseconds and sound flavors like analog, modulate, and reverse. But perhaps the star of this group is Phrase Loop, which is a real BOSS looper with up to 38 seconds of recording time and unlimited overdubbing, allowing you to create realtime backing for live performances and practicing.
When the expression pedal’s toe switch is off, the pedal controls the ME-70’s volume. When it’s on, the PEDAL FX group’s engaged, providing wah and pitch shifting effects and a unique voice effect. There are even options to use the pedal to control the rate of the modulation effects or the level of the delay effects.
The ME-70 also features a great-sounding reverb—with an innovative one-knob control that adjusts both reverb type and depth—and a noise suppressor for killing buzz and hum. For the final icing on the cake, there’s a built-in chromatic tuner, and an AUX IN jack for plugging in a music player so you can jam along with your favorite tunes.
As you can see, the ME-70 is incredibly flexible and filled with all the features most guitarists need and then some. Best of all, it’s packed to the gills with great BOSS tone, and you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to use it! If you’re tired of plugging in a floor full of stompboxes or lugging around a heavy pedalboard—or if you just want a ton of BOSS effects in a single package—the ME-70 could be the solution you’re looking for.