Boss ME-70

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Boss ME-70
Boss ME-70

Original article by Jdriver
An Overview of the Boss ME-70 - Please see the full size image to see all the controls.


What it is, and is not.

The ME-70 is the latest multi-effects stomp box for guitar from Boss. It shares the layout and appearance of it's predecessor, the ME-50, and it would be logical to assume this is an "ME-50 plus 20," but that's not what it is. This is a similar but very different unit. I'm guessing Boss won't discontinue the ME-50, but rather lower it's price.

The ME-70 can be thought of as a reorganized and updated version of the ME-50. It has all the same standard features like tap tempo, tuner, etc. so I won't go into those things, or operation in general. This is meant to point out some things that might be helpful for a potential user.

Major Changes:

1.Four foot switches instead of three.

The 70/50 have their major effects grouped in modules similar to an analog synth. The new ME-70 has four of these groups and corresponding foot switch for each. In manual mode these foot switches turn individual effects on and off, like four separate stomp boxes, one each for Compression/FX, Overdrive/Distortion, Modulation, and Delay. In Memory mode, the foot switches select 4 different patches per bank, and there are 9 banks, so 36 saved patches. Unlike the ME-50, there is a separate memory area for User and "Factory" patches. The idea here is to use the factory patches as starting points for a sound you like, and then save it as a user patch without losing the original. When you disengage memory mode, you return to whatever settings you were using in manual mode, so you can think of it as having 5 patches in total available without having to switch banks (4 + manual).

The 70 is not bigger than the 50, it is the same size, so the 4 "modules" and their foot switches are now smaller and fitting into the space where there was 3 larger foot switches before. This can be good or bad, depending on how you look at it. The good thing is it's easier to hit 2 switches at once, which is required to switch manual/memory mode, tuner/bypass on/off, and bank select up/down. The bad thing is it's easy to hit 2 switches at once, and do something unintended while performing!

2. Reorganized tone selections.

The 50 would appear to have more tone options in the OD/DS, in fact I think 22 in total. However, the ME-70 now splits some of those tone options off to the new Preamp section, which makes sense since some of the OD/DS choices on the ME-50 were amp-specific distortions. Oddly, the ME-70 no longer references specific name-brand pedals as the ME-50 did (DS-1, OD-2, BD-2, Muff, Screamer, Rat, Guv'nor, (fuzz)face.) Instead they only reference their own OD-1 pedal, and the other types are generically named.

The Preamp section now feature distinct models of some desireable amps, namely a Vox combo, Fender Bassman, 70's Marshalls, and Mesa/Boogie Dual Rectifier, in addition to a standard Clean channel. Each of these models can be equalized using the control knobs, of you can use no model and use the equalizer only.

So splitting the amp simulations from the distortion types actually allows much greater control over your sound.

3. E-Z Tone.

This is a one button shortcut to Boss's idea of some "ideal" sounds for each effect type. This feature is very misunderstood as to how it works. In brief, when in Manual Mode, you press the E-Z Tone button and then any effect of the 4 sections (comp,od/ds,mod,delay) plus the Preamp are assigned preset values for a good sound to start with. Since this unit is really digital with analog knobs, often the control positions don't match what is actually being played. With the E-Z Tone engaged, you can change all the knobs however you want, but if you want to see what the value was that was assigned by the factory as their chosen E-Z Tone for that effect, you can hold down the Edit/Exit button while moving the control knobs and the setting will be displayed, unless you have already moved the knobs. If you want to change the settings you can do so and either save as a patch, save it as the new E-Z Tone for that effect, or not save it at all. As clear as mud and just about as useful, probably for most users. I try to explain this further in the Miscellaneous Notes section below.

4. Delay section from Heaven, with Phrase Looper.

The Delay module has been greatly improved in both sound and function. It now features up to 6 seconds of delay, in the typical selection ranges. It now has a Momentary setting for the delay effect which can be used in conjunction with a secondary delay provided in the Modulation section. So you can be playing along with your typical delay setting, and do some special delay effect by pressing and holding the pedal.

Also new and wonderful is a 38 second Phrase Loop function with unlimited overdubbing, so you can layer to your heart's content, at least up to the 38 second limit.

5. Foot Pedal FX changes.

You can now modify the Modulation Rate or the Delay Level with the foot pedal, as well as the standard volume and wah functions. It also has +1 and -1 octave settings, and a voice box effect. Missing from the ME-50 is the Ring Modulator, which no one should care about.

6. What else is MIA?

Acoustic Sim tone setting, "name brand" OD/DS setting names, ring modulator, stereo chorus settings, and 2 of the previous 4 types of reverb (it now has only Room and Hall). The power switch is deleted. Plugging in your guitar switches it on.

7. What else is new?

Comp/FX module now includes an emulation of the Boss Slow Gear pedal.

Recording Out/Headphone Out now features a full amp simulation for recording directly. The sound quality is superb. However,be aware that having anything plugged into the Recording/Phones jack will apply the amp simulation to both that jack AND the regular (direct to your own amp) jacks. Just something to be aware of.

Overall lower noise and better quality sound.

Miscellaneous Notes

About the settings display..

One of the fun things about this unit is all the knobs for tweaking the settings, however this is still a digital device. When you save a patch, the numerical values of the controls are written to the patch. Obviously if you change the settings or switch patches, and go back to your saved patch, the knobs don't spin around to match what's in the memory, although the indicator lights for all the sound modules used in that patch will light up. In order for you to write down the actual values as a backup, you can do this both in Memory Mode and E-Z Tone. Just press and HOLD the Edit/Exit button and turn the knob in question and the value will be displayed.

There is also an option for how the knobs work to change the values. Let's say you are going to edit a saved patch. You press the Edit button. When you turn the knob to change the value, it can either change immediately from it's current position regardless of the previously saved position, OR you can do it as in the ME-50 and many other devices like this... you can have the value displayed not to change until you turn PAST the previously saved value. This is one of the reasons you might want to write down the actual settings for your most favorite patches since it's easy to get confused when you go to edit one.

The expression pedal is adjustable in the amount of pressure required to activate the switch. Some have complained how hard it is, but as explained in the manual it's simple to adjust, and when you do it you also recalibrate the pedal range.

Also there have been complaints that you can't "dump" a patch to manual mode. Well, yes and no. You can dump any patch into a kind of manual mode by simply pressing the Edit button. The display will flash "Ed." and you have full manual control, but unless you write it back to a patch or E-Z Tone, you lose the changes. A little planning will give you a much better approach to live playing if you set up your patches and a manual mode or E-Z Tone. There is no practical benefit to editing a patch during a live performance, but you can do this if necessary by just pressing the Write button twice.

As if there weren't enough foot switches already, you can add 2 more external Boss FS-5U or one FS-6, which will then switch the Preamp and Reverb sections on and off, as will also serve as separate Bank Select up/down switches.

Sound Clip

Here is a short sound clip demonstrating the effect of the amp/cab simulation on the recording output. Here I play just some notes in a pentatonic minor scale, played through 4 times in this order:

(All through the "Tweed"(Bassman) preamp setting, same delay and reverb on all.)

1. Clean, direct to amp jack.
2. Clean, from recording out jack. (switches on the sim)
3. Fuzzy OD-1, direct to amp.
4. Fuzzy OD-1, from recording out jack.

Amp Simulation Demo

The significance of this difference is that if you prefer to add Cabinet modelling in your DAW, you can use the direct output. If you want to record using the built in cabinet simulation, use the recording/headphone out jack.

Do remember that having anything plugged into the rec/head out jack engages the simulation for BOTH outputs. Even a dummy plug, or cable not connected to anything.

And finally...

I've saved the best surprise for last... Changing patches in memory mode now happens instantly. In the ME-50 there was often a noticeable lag which made it a show stopper when playing live, for some people.

I found it very easy to dial in some very nice tones right away, not even using the factory presets. I think overall this unit is a big improvement, perhaps at the expense of some convenience in choosing a sound based on other pedal names.

As I said before, the sound quality is excellent, and even the very high gain settings like the Mesa/Boogie preamp setting are much quieter than any of my other tone boxes.

I'll be interested in hearing the opinions of some of our other Tone-Masters about how the sound stacks up, especially that Mesa/Boogie setting. Wow! It's loud.


Original article by Jdriver