Purchased from: Paul Bothner Music
Ease of Use — 6
Here is where the ME-80 is going to score very lowly for me. Getting a good sound out of it on the go is not difficult to accomplish. It can be customized easily and the manual has exhaustive instructions and explanations for the unit. My issue is how tough it can be to get the exact sound I'm looking for. Making some of the effects sound good also takes some work. Setting presets also is pretty simple to do once you have your settings. Either a few button presses on the unit or through the Tone Central program. The program and drivers are simple to install and make sense of if you are somewhat computer savvy and give enough time clicking around to see what it can do. This is as complicated as you want to make it but it may prove a slightly tough learning curve for some people (You would be amazed at how confusing simple things can be with technology). It's intuitive to use but needs time to get the best out of it.
Sound — 7
The ME-80 is the affordable and simpler sibling to the GT-100 produced by Boss. It still has a large array of decent sounding effects and sound sculpting capabilities built into it for use either as a collection of on the go stomp-boxes or select between presets. Plug your guitar into the unit, plug your unit into your amp and from there the possibilities become a whole lot wider. The unit boasts a broad array of the COSM modelling effects produced by Boss.
It has a few unique and cool little effects to make a given guitar sound interesting or fundamentally different such as the hum-single/vice-versa feature for pick-ups. It boasts a wide spectrum of distortions that may sound too digital when used through a clean channel, but they can be used with the preamps or an amps built in capabilities to sound great. There is also a wide range of modulation effects such as chorus, phaser and the like. Things to fluctuate or add to a guitars sound. These are all similar to the Boss pedals but sound decent in their own right. The delays are very impressive and so is the reverb it produces. Most of the effects can be controlled with the volume pedal which also functions as a wah and other similar effects. The preamps allow for impressive tonal shaping with the COSM modelling technology as well as a unique selection called Drive. With which Boss claim in the user manual that "A sound like this cannot be obtained from any existing amps."
If all of this doesn't sound promising enough and you can't seem to get the tones you want with your settings or presets, Boss has the Tone Central feature for computer. Here you can browse patches created by named and famous artists and studio musicians to use for yourself. People like Marty Friedman, Steve Lukather, Alex Hutchings, Gus G and many more. They each have a video explaining their thought process behind the different tones they made and demonstrate them for you.
Based on versatility for sounds, I would say that this covers a very wide basis of effects that guitarists might want to use across genres. For what it does, it does well. The cons here are that the distortions end up sounding digital, the effects are pretty generic in quality because of the design space and unless you are into getting creative or like using different effects all the time, this may be too unfocused and a custom set of individual pedals may serve you better. It rates highly because the Tone Central patches by the artists show what it can be made to do with some effort and experimentation.
Reliability & Durability — 8
I think by now Boss' reputation precedes itself in making bulletproof products. It's a pretty solid metal case with some weight to it and some robust selection buttons for you to curb stomp it during a show if the mood hits you. The dials are not as bullet proof but they hardly ever are on any pedalboard. They come off fairly easily so be sure to look out for that. I also suspect that the display screen wont take lightly to abuse that comes its way. I'm confident though that this thing will not break unless you threw it across the room on purpose. If you are unsure about power to your adapter during a gig, you can load up the unit with batteries as a backup. These don't last long however.
Overall Impression — 7
My overall impression is that this thing is great! It's no Line 6 Helix or Axe-FX or event GT-100, but it has serious usage in a variety of contexts. I play in a metal band and jam consistently with other people and it holds up to a large amount of things I need to do. It has all the effects I have ever wanted to use with some spare. I have been playing 6 years now and haven't owned anything like it but I have used other units like it before such as the ME-50. It does what I need it to do, however I dislike how generic the effects are. But for the price and what it is, it is a super solid multi-unit I can take and put straight into a PA (because it has speaker emulation).
If it were stolen or lost I would definitely look to getting a new one, assuming I don't want to just get a handful of effects to refine my sound. This is great for its price and I think Boss did well on it.