Price paid: € 280
Purchased from: Varvantakis
Ease of Use — 9
Contrary to the difficulty of achieving at least a decent tone in Manual mode, the Boss ME-80 is ridiculously easy to get a good sound out of because of the Memory mode and how it allows the player to edit and record patches. Navigation through the patches is easy, as you control the up/down movement through the nine "files" (each one has 4 patch slots) via two switches and you select one of the four patches that are in that file at that time, by pushing one of the four switches.
Editing and saving a patch is easy as well, since all you got to do is press a button when you are satisfied with your current settings and the select a slot for your setting to be saved in. Added the ability to download and assign to your unit a big variety of patches through the free Tone Central software by Boss via USB connectivity to PC, the possibilities are endless. You can also trade patch files with your friends and importing them is again achieved by a few clicks of the mouse.
Here's a video of me using the ME-80. Neglect the apparent lack of skill, focus on the demonstration aspect please! :)
Sound — 8
The sounds that the ME-80 can produce can satisfy any guitarist's needs. With independent sections for EQ, Overdrive/Distortion, Modulation and Delay the unit feels like an average pedalboard filled with Boss stompboxes, all squeezed into a single processor. In addition with a respectable amount of amp modulation options, such as a Marshall Stack, some classic Fender-like amps and a clean-blank-canvas one, the ME-80 will suit anybody that plays guitar out there.
I have used mine through a Randall RX30D and a Blackstar ID:Core 20. The unit still offers the same versatility although some patches and sounds sound different through each amp. The quality of the signal though did not change significantly. The only time when the ME-80 can get noisy is when combining high gain amp modulations with a lot of distortion, although through proper setting up of the various setting (EQ, amp, distortion gain and level). Unlike the ME-70, the ME-80 unfortunately does not include a noise gate.
As mentioned above, the fact that the unit can offer so many options for determining one's tone, can actually prove to be an obstacle to settling in a decent sound. When operated in Manual mode (the user is responsible for every setting, whereas in Memory mode the user only switches between patches) the unit requires a lot and I mean a lot of testing and tampering with it in order to achieve the tone that you like.
Reliability & Durability — 10
The unit is built like a tank. A solid metal body and (probably) hard plastic knobs feel really sturdy and trustworthy. Simple as that. The hardware seems like it will last, with only the exception of the expression pedal, which appears to give a "light" feeling, like it's not installed properly into the body of the unit. I haven't experienced any problems with it so far and I've been using it on a daily basis for several months now. Also, the various input holes have metal edges, therefore you won't scratch the finish of the unit by plugging and unplugging cables.
Overall Impression — 9
I don't think it that the ME-80 is targeted towards a certain type of guitarist. It simply gives him/her the ability to achieve a very wide variety of tones and effects and therefore it will match every style possible. As stated before, I've been using mine for several months now and I've grown to be familiar with it, but after having tested a friend's POD from Line 6, I am glad I picked the ME-80 over that, simply because it suits my needs for simplicity more than the POD. There are no questions about it, the ME-80 does exactly what it advertises and personally I don't think I'd want anything more of it. It's a electric guitar multi-fx processor that takes the sound possibilities to a whole new level providing you know what you're doing. Will definitely buy one again if it somehow breaks down or it gets stolen.