ME-80 Guitar Multiple Effects Review

manufacturer: Boss date: 03/11/2016 category: Guitar Effects
Boss: ME-80 Guitar Multiple Effects
The unit is very easy to use due to its knob-based editing. The Boss ME-80 has 2 operation modes: memory mode and manual mode. In memory mode the unit works as a conventional digital multieffect, you can select banks and patches. In manual mode the unit works a real pedalboard where every pedal turns on and off an effect.
 Ease of Use: 8.2
 Sound: 8.2
 Reliability & Durability: 9
 Overall Impression: 8.2
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overall: 9
ME-80 Guitar Multiple Effects Reviewed by: Panos94, on january 12, 2015
6 of 6 people found this review helpful

Price paid: € 280

Purchased from: Varvantakis

Ease of Use: 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! :)

// 9

Sound: 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. // 8

Reliability & Durability: 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. // 10

Overall Impression: 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. // 9

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overall: 8.3
ME-80 Guitar Multiple Effects Reviewed by: KDC, on december 23, 2014
2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Price paid: € 200

Ease of Use: The unit is very easy to use due to its knob-based editing. The Boss ME-80 has 2 operation modes: memory mode and manual mode. In memory mode the unit works as a conventional digital multieffect, you can select banks and patches. In manual mode the unit works a real pedalboard where every pedal turns on and off an effect. Boss also offers his Tone Studio to edit patches from PC which works well. It's also possible to backup and restore patches and download new ones from Boss Tone Central. The product has no upgradable fw, the manual is clear and well written. // 8

Sound: There was an actual improvement on the sound compared to the other pedalboard of the ME series. The amps are a fraction of the ones offered on the GT-100 and sound great, the Stack model (my personal favorite) simulates very well the sound of a Marshall Plexi but also other clean, crunch and metal amps are included. Some of my favorite effects are the famous Boss chorus and the intelligent harmonizer that follows the scales using the right intervals. If needed a noise gate is provided. The wah-wah is good either with clean and with distortion. // 8

Reliability & Durability: Metal chassis as all Boss pedals, with rugged plastic switches. It is solid enough for gigging although I will use it for home playing/recording as I'm not a gigging musician. For gigging purpose I recommend buying an AC adapter that is not provided with the unit as is it also battery powered. Jack sockects are also metal and an handy on/off switch is provided. To turn on and off the unit you must hold the power switch for two seconds, this prevents the unit from being accidentally shutted down. // 9

Overall Impression: All the sounds, apart from the overtone, the ring modulator and some distortions are very usable in my opinion. The amps sound great and in memory mode the unit can be used as a real pedalboard where every pedal turns on and off an effect. There is also a 38 seconds looper that works well (the only limit to me is that you can't change patch while looping but only turn on and off effects). USB recording and reamping is also supported. A thing to remember is that there is no cabinet simulation editing option but cabinet simulation is activated when headphones/recording out are connected. // 8

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overall: 8
ME-80 Guitar Multiple Effects Reviewed by: adetheheat, on april 20, 2015
2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Price paid: £ 230

Purchased from: Nevada Music, uk

Ease of Use: Really easy to use! Editing is very simple. Manual is easy to read. Maybe need more patches - is 72 enough for a covers band? Although I am very happy with it. If you are in a covers band and need to go from acoustic to rock to metal to weird and wonderful sound no one has heard before then this is fabulous. You can also use it as individual stomp boxes - I think that's about 8 in total. I really can't fault it at all for ease of use - I mean how much easier is it to press a pedal.

Maybe a drawback is that you don't know what settings you had on each patch - i.e. if I go back to a patch I created 6 months ago there's no way of knowing (apart from listening carefully) what settings I was using and what value of each setting I was using. So I've written these down so I don't forget. Actually for some people that may be a big deal if they have created an amazing wall of sound. // 8

Sound: I've had this for 6 months now so know it pretty well. The effects are mostly very good. The amp models are excellent - I mean they are all very good - no bad ones at all. The amp models are:

  • Clean (simulates an amp with a flat response)
  • Tweed (Fender Bassman)
  • Combo (Vox AC30)
  • Crunch (their own)
  • Drive (their own high gain amp)
  • Stack (Marshall Plexi 1959)
  • Metal (Bogner Ubershall).
All the amp models and their gain settings sound good plugged into my Marshall DSL - and in fact they all sound better than the DSL's various crunch and gain sounds - although in reality in my set up they're being altered by the DSL's own clean preamp so maybe that plays a part. At very high gains they start to sound digital but do you really need that much gain? 

The echo's echo! The other effects do what they're supposed to. The distortion effects sound digital but I use the amp models anyway. The overdrive/tube screamer effects are good. The harmomizer doesn't sound completely natural although it is good. The overtone effect is useful - it generates a sound an octave higher and an octave lower than the note you are playing - this can thicken up your solos.  

There are 9 user banks with 4 patches in each. Plus each patch can be modified using the CTL pedal - so this makes 9*4*2 = 72 different user sounds accessed from a pedal press. So far I've used up 5 banks in setting all the sounds I want. Acoustic simulator is good to make your electric guitar sound like an acoustic. // 8

Reliability & Durability: I think this can withstand most things! Seems reliable and durable. I've noticed that sometimes setting up the CTL pedal for each patch can go wrong - I found if you do it at the same time you do the patch then you are fine - otherwise sometimes it doesn't always set up as expected.
Maybe the only thing that make it seem unreliable is that pedals are very close together and in a live situation you may not always see the CTL pedal easily. I think this would go on forever - it's built from sturdy metal and weighs a nnit so won't move around. // 8

Overall Impression: I use this to get the tones I need for Zeppelin (good to go from acoustic to overdrive with a press of the pedal), AC/DC, Sabbath, Guns N' Roses, Ozzy, Hendrix, Iron Maiden. I this was stolen I'd buy it again. I love the ease of use and the amp models.  I don't hate anything in it. I'm very pleased with it - the amp models are rocktastc and as I said they sound better than the DSL. Much easier to use than the GT100. Customer support said that its the same DSL chip as the GT100 and mostly same software but simpler to use (and less flexible).

// 8

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overall: 9.8
ME-80 Guitar Multiple Effects Reviewed by: Paramore111, on march 11, 2016
2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 399

Purchased from: Online

Ease of Use: After using a Boss ME-10 for probably 20 years, I finally decided to upgrade, and this is a good one.


+1) After doing a ton of programming on the ME-10, with buttons, menus, and a data wheel, I now have a box with all the knobs laid out in front of me. If I ever need to tweak a sound, or come up with one from scratch, it's easier than ever; go to Manual, turn on the modules you want, set them to taste, and hit the WRITE button.

+2) Amp modeling section works great and provides a HUGE range of sounds; heavily weighted toward the rock/metal/distortion world, probably more than I will ever use, but it's great to have all those flavors available.

+3) All the other sections each provide a WIDE range of effects, with lots of variability so you can find exactly the sound you want. (3a Nice to have tremolo after all this time; 3b Besides the dedicated Delay module, 2 of the other modules also provide a basic delay, all usable at the same time, which is very handy to have)

+4) The on-board expression pedal is an excellent addition, after using the ME-10 where I had to buy and connect one externally.

+5) The FX connected to the control pedal are useful and fun; some I have not found a use for just yet, but give me time. Includes 8va up or down, FREEZE, and Wah, among others. When you're not using one of those, it functions as a volume pedal; excellent design!

+6) If you're using it where you don't want to string another AC adapter, it works on 6 AA batteries. Sweetwater/Boss informed me that battery life is about 7 hours with ordinary alkaline batteries, and my testing agrees. And since I use higher capacity rechargeable NiMH AA batteries, my battery life will probably be much better.

+7) The ability to switch to Manual and switch each of the FX individually is a HUGE PLUS.

+8) Built-in Tuner and Built-in 38 second looper; both are accessible with the onboard foot switches. ME-10 had a tuner, but I had to bend over or connect an external footswitch.

+9) INCREDIBLY REASONABLE PRICE. I recall my ME-10 costing almost double what this thing goes for.


-1) The expression pedal is a bit small, so depending on the size of your foot (and shoe or boot), it may take some getting used to. I'm managing...

I think that's the worst CON I can think of, for me. Several people have told me they think the (FILL IN THE BLANK) "sounds better", but I have a hard time believing that there could be that much difference between the SOUND QUALITY of the various multi-FX boards (Zoom, Line 6, DigiTech, etc); I would not hesitate to use this box in any setting, recording or live. For me the choice came down to flexibility, variety of sounds, and ease of navigation, both when programming, and when playing. // 10

Sound: 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. // 10

Reliability & Durability: 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.

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. // 10

Overall Impression: I love this thing. I originally purchased the Line 6 HD500X, but it took me two days to get a sound out of it. I was finally able to do that by putting the manual down and just started pushing buttons and twisting knobs. It came alive. Obviously, I didn't know what I was doing, but got overwhelmed and sent it back. I am sure the HD500X is a great piece of gear, and superior in some ways. But I found the Boss ME-80 to be easier to navigate. Got it working right away. I use it as an addition to the plug ins I have in Logic. It seems to get better sustain then the plug-ins. It gives me every thing I need: clean/dirty and the basic, most common effects one would here in music: wah, chorus, phase, flanger, reverb, some octave effects. The presets are pretty cool on their own but you can use manual mode to create your own. And I prefer a knob based setup over a menu driven setup. It is odd that it didn't come with a power adapter (sold separately for $30.00). Maybe the people at Boss feel some folks are ok with batteries and it allows them to keep the price of the unit at $300.00. Batteries might come in handy on gigs though. I am predominately a bassist who plays guitar for home recording, so I did not want to mess with stomp boxes. And truth be told, the average fan/club patron/audience attendee will never be able to tell the difference between a multiefects unit and stomp boxes. (My opinion) It's cool that you can connect via USB but I just plug it directly in to my Edirol Interface, on a Mac Tower, using both GarageBand and Logic. Overall: great purchase for the price. Just received a Boss ME-80 from Sweetwater on Saturday morning.

Use to own a GT-6 & GT-8... Hated them both... Not user friendly. Also owned a Boss ME-50 & I just gave it away to a friend. I was not expecting much outta this pedal... BOY WAS I WRONG! SUPER EASY TO USE & the tones sounds REALLY good. As usual if you really crank the Distortion tones, you start getting the "Digital" vibe. The Modulation & Delay tones are superb... THEY REALLY SOUND GOOD. I have not "built" any patches yet & I have yet to go to The Boss Tone Library. Currently just using it in the manual mode, I haven't even read the owners manual yet. Ran it into the front a 100 watt Marshall DSL... UN-FRIGGIN-BELIEVABLE!

The Compressed clean tones were superb & the Distortion tones was very robust. Gotta say this: I was not expecting much & this unit completely blew me away. The only bad thing: AC adapter was not included... EPIC FAIL for Boss. The adapter cost $25. If I'm spending $300 on a pedal, it damn well better have an AC adapter included. Besides that, this is an very powerful tool for any musician looking for cool tones on the fly. My advice... Buy the Boss ME-80 & prepare to be blown away! (it's that good) // 9

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overall: 7
ME-80 Guitar Multiple Effects Reviewed by: Sir_Taffey, on september 30, 2015
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Purchased from: Paul Bothner Music

Ease of Use: 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. // 6

Sound: 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. // 7

Reliability & Durability: 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. // 8

Overall Impression: 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. // 7

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