Friday, August 10, 2012

Review: Boss CE-5 Chorus Pedal (Pink Label version)

This is the Boss CE-5 Chorus Pedal. I bought it a few months back, not even really on purpose. It was part of a package deal with my Boss TU-2 Chromatic Tuner. It sat in the cupboard for a few months, and then I started to do some research, to see if I should sell it. Here's what I found out:

There are in fact three versions of the Boss CE-5, though the second and third ones are virtually identical, apart from having different colored labels on the bottom. All three are made in Taiwan, and all of the features are the same. The (BIG) difference between the first version (the Pink Label version) and the subsequent ones, is that the first issue of these pedals used analog circuitry, where the second and third issues used a fully digital, board-mounted circuit. Because of this major difference in design, these pedals sound radically different, despite looking exactly the same on the outside.

The first edition of the CE-5 (the Pink Label version), made in the early 1990s, uses an analog BBD circuit to produce a delayed effect. BBD stands for "Bucket Brigade Device", and essentially works the same way. The signal is fed into a capacitor, and then emptied into another capacitor, along a line in the circuit. This effectively slows down the signal because of the time it takes to complete this process. When the signal comes out the other end of the BBD, it is combined with the original signal to produce the "chorus" effect after which the effect is named. This type of circuit is used in many popular analog chorus pedals, including the Ibanez CS9, the Boss CE-1 and CE-2, and the Electro-Harmonix Memory Man.

I have always preferred analog effects to digital ones, and this distinction is why the first version of the CE-5 is so much more highly rated than the ones that followed.

Upon testing the pedal, I found the effect to be very subtle compared to most Chorus effects I have used. In the past, I have used a Boss CE-2, an Ibanez CS10, and both the vintage and reissue Ibanez CS9s. While the CE-2 produces a richer, more noticeable effect, the CE-5 adds just a touch of chorus sweetness, and preserves the original signal better than any chorus pedal I've tried. There is also the added feature of the High and Low Cut/Pass control knob, which allows a little better control of the signal path.

As with all the Boss pedals, the construction is very solid, and there are no issues whatsoever with reliability. I am not usually a huge fan of Boss pedals, but this one is a winner!

-Solid construction
-Warm analog sound
-Good controls

-Hard to find this version
-A little weak if you're looking for deep chorus

Rating: 8/10