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Vox Tonelab LE vs. Boss ME-50

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Noble Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 1106
Topic starter  

I know that there have been some posts here on both the Tonelab LE and the ME-50. I am looking at both, in an attempt to decide whether I should buy one or the other. I picked the "guitar Players Discussion" because I think the information on subsequent posts might be useful to all. However, if I have offended the powers that be, feel free to move this discussion to the "Opinions" section, or wherever else it "fits."

Okay, I am looking for thoughts and comments (both good and bad) on both. If you have experience with both of them - great you can A/B your comments. I have researched them both online and from what I have read, the Tonelab LE apparently has "better" tones, but is more expensive, and works great for someone playing live gigs. The Me-50 is a pretty good solution for someone looking to access lots of tones, all in one package.

Here are some questions I have:

1. What does each one do well?
2. What does each one do poorly or not do at all?
3. How "real" are the tones created?
4. How easy is each one to use (this is really important for me - I like it as simple as possible)?
5. Who would be the most likely user of each unit (working musician, in home studio, etc.)?


Eminent Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 28

the Tonelab LE apparently has "better" tones, but is more expensive, and works great for someone playing live gigs. The Me-50 is a pretty good solution for someone looking to access lots of tones, all in one package.

That sounds like a decent synopsis. I've got an ME-50 and a friend of mine has the ToneLab. For what I do, the Boss has all I need. I really like the layout of basically three independent stomp boxes and an expression pedal. I've never gone into the "Memory Mode" or programmed anything into it, so I basically change my modulation effect or expression pedal use on the fly and I love it that way. The tones may not be the most "authentic," but I was able to get it for a little under $200 on eBay and it's suited me wonderfully.

From my limited experience witht eh ToneLab, it's got a little more of a "modeling" feel to it, with the cabinet options and what not. Basically, it's just more of a "deluxe" option which is great if you've got the cash to spare. A little more complex, a little more authentic, a little more money. Oh, and the Vox wah style expression pedal is much more classy than the ME-50's black plastic/rubber thing.

That's all I've got.

King Harvest has surely come.

Noble Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 1106
Topic starter  

Thanks for the information - it is helpful.

If you have any experience with the Vox Valvetronix amps, are the features of the Tonelab LE basically what you already get in the Valvetronix? The amps have a bunch of amp models (7 or 8), 12 or so stomp boxes, but the amp has no expression pedal. I am wondering whether the amp is almost the same as the Tonelab LE?

scottish nutter
Trusted Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 32

the me50 needs to be put infront of an amp, it doesnt sound very good in the loop, i found the reverb and delays didnt sound that good when i had mines because of this

Eminent Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 27

It should be noted that the Vox Tonelab models a variety of stomp boxes, amplifiers, and "post amp" effects. The ME50 ONLY models the stompboxes/effects - there's no amp modelling included. Which one suits you best will therefore depend very heavily on how you intend to use it. All in one gigging/recording solution going direct to PA/mixer? Go for the Tonelab. Using it to spice up your favourite amplifier? Then maybe go for the Boss.

To be honest, I've just upgraded to the Tonelab LE after using the original little blue box a couple of years ago, and I'm blown away again by the sheer quality of the sounds. I use a Line 6 Variax (the only decent bit of kit that company made IMHO!) and there's virtually no guitar sound that I can't get a scarily convincing version of with just those two bits of gear.

Ignar Hillström
Illustrious Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 5349

They are two pretty different devices. The Vox has *excellent* modeling sounds. It might take a while to really get used to it but the final results are nothing but stunning. It's not that the interface is difficutl, it's about as easy as it gets. But imagine getting a bunch of real amps and effects, it'll take time to find your own sound, too. I believe Gerry here uses on, maybe PM him. The FX of the Vox are kinda basic, usually just two or three parameters to change. In short the Vox aims to the 'basic sounds' players. People who like a good amp and only a few effects.

The Boss ME50 has one massive disadvantage that'll make it nearly useless for live performandes. The DSP chip inside is about ten years old and you get the latency when switching presets that all devices from that era have. it's about half a second, during which you'll sound will be completely muted. Imagine how that works out when you want to jump to your lead-preset... For the rest it has a huge ammount of effects and offers reasonable control. Personnaly I think the comparison is pretty lame: the vox is simply much more recent and is simply better. I myself got the GT8, which is the more modern big brother of the ME50. Comparing the Tonelab with the GT8 is tricky. Both have excellent modeling sounds. The GT8 has much more options with the effect section whereas the Tonelab has a more intuitive user interface.

The Tonelab shares a lot of the Valvetronix technology, but has slightly better models. If you were thinking of recording go for the Tonelab/GT8 (from what you say I guess the Tonelab would be your choice), if you dont want to record and only want to use it in a band setting try the AD60. As for the ME50: I simply cannot recommend it to a gigging musician. it might be usefull to record but it's so old that you'll be much better of with the (excellent!) new Zoom series. The G2 runs about $100 new and simply butchers the ME50 for tones. You might want to check it out as it's the easiest of all, the most portable, the cheapest and has technically the best specs of all. The fancier versions run up to $350 or so and have a number of extra features, but they all share the same DSP.

Noble Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 1196

Interesting and insightful input from Ignar.

It is a small world for metal fanatics. I welcome you fellow musicians, especially the metalheads!