BOSS GX 100 Review: The Amazingly Affordable All In One Processor!

BOSS GX 100 Review: The Amazingly Affordable All In One Processor!
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BOSS knows how to make effects, we know that. Their budget Multi-FX units were always second fiddle to other brands. Things are definitely changing with the BOSS GX 100!

The BOSS GX 100: It Has Been A Long Time Coming…

The world of amp sims has definitely come a long way in the last few years. So many gigging artists have embraced products like the Helix, HX Stomp, and Kemper because of the ease of use. The days of carrying a pedalboard and full size tube amp for small gigs is slowly becoming obsolete. I will be the first to say that nothing really can replace a tube amp, but tube amps just aren’t practical in most situations. As much as I adore a loud tube amp, most venues just won’t allow you to crank it and get the full experience. The same goes for at home playing, I can’t crank a tube amp without getting the cops called on me.

This is why we see so many guitarists going over to amp sims, and modeling technology. I have seen quite a few local shows over the last two years in South Florida, and everyone is either using the Helix with an FRFR, or the BOSS Katana at these local gigs. Why wouldn’t you use these products if they are so much easier and less expensive? Other guitarists may give you guff for using modeling tech, but I promise you…the audience doesn’t care what you’re playing as long as you sound good! The stigma of modelers is slowly dying off, opening a path for new guitarists to experiment.

Last year, we looked at the flagship BOSS GT 1000, which was a total monster of a processor. The problem for most people, was the price on the unit. Even the smaller “Core” unit was a good bit of money. The BOSS GX 100 is filling the gap for guitarists that are working on a budget that need more than the Core unit, but less than the flagship GT 1000. BOSS is clearly taking some ques from the Line 6 POD GO with the new GX 100. But BOSS has some tricks that Line 6 may have missed.

BOSS is owned by Roland of course, and Roland has been working on guitar processors since the 1990’s, trying to perfect the sounds. Roland has made huge leaps over the years in processing power, and the BOSS GX 100 is the culmination of years of tests, research, and development. It can be hard to design a Multi-FX unit that has so many features for a budget price, and today we are going to take a look at the new BOSS GX 100. I’m going to try and see what makes it tick, without getting too frustrated. If you are a frequent reader, you know options are my enemy. But the BOSS GX 100 looks a little more streamlined than most products of its ilk.

I brought two totally different guitars to test out the GX 100. I have my Schecter Hellraiser with active EMG pickups, and my Schecter Nick Johnston Traditional with single coils. These two guitars couldn’t be more different in sound, and I think this will make the testing fair. I had the option of headphones, and an FRFR speaker to test the unit, and I used both. The reason I am telling you this, is because it will make a huge difference later, when I explain the features of this processor. I didn’t know any of this going in, but I am glad I brought two different guitars!

There is a lot going on with this unit, so it will be hard to cover everything. I am going to try and give you the best rundown that I can, but there are so many features that it can be overwhelming. I’m going to try and focus on the important parts, that really set the BOSS GX 100 apart from the competition. We will talk about the effects and stuff briefly, but I think we know by now that BOSS makes some amazing effects. There is a lot to talk about, but there are a few unique features that really stand out and we will cover them the best we can.

Let’s take a look at the BOSS GX 100, and break down the features!

BOSS GX 100: Features And Specs

boss gx 100
The BOSS GX 100 Top View

When it comes to these multi-FX units, most of them offer quite a bit of amp models and effects. Well BOSS certainly didn’t skimp out on those, but the really interesting features lie in how you can use this unit. Of course the BOSS GX 100 is full of amps and effects, but the input/output options is what makes this processor really special. You usually won’t see these options at this price point, so I was a little surprised at the power of this thing. But let’s look at the basics from BOSS before I dive into my overview:

“The BOSS GX-100 guitar effects processor fuses advanced BOSS tone technologies with sleek, ultramodern hardware design for top-shelf performance in any setting. Explore 23 AIRD amplifiers and over 150 effects derived from the flagship GT-1000, and craft great sounds in seconds with the intuitive color touch display. Up to 15 simultaneous effects blocks deliver endless tone possibilities, coupled with deep real-time command via onboard footswitches, an expression pedal and external control support.”

BOSS Official

  • Powerful, easy-to-use amp/effects processor for guitar and bass
  • Authentic tube amplifier tone and touch response with AIRD technology
  • 23 amplifier types and over 150 BOSS effects
  • Ultra-flexible amp/effect routing with 15 assignable blocks
  • Wide selection of onboard speaker types and support for loading WAV speaker IRs
  • Streamlined modern design with intuitive color touch display and rugged metal chassis
  • Unlimited effects control with freely assignable onboard footswitches and expression pedal with toe switch
  • Connect up to two footswitches or an expression pedal for expanded control
  • Send/return loop for external pedals or four-cable method
  • Control jack for remote channel switching on your amplifier
  • MIDI I/O jacks and multi-channel computer recording via USB
  • 24-bit AD/DA, 32-bit floating-point processing, and 48kHz sampling rate

BOSS GX 100: Overview

The construction of the BOSS GX 100 is everything that you would expect from BOSS. The casing is a rugged but lightweight aluminum (7lbs), and all of the stomp buttons feel super solid. The expression pedal has a natural feel to it, unlike some of the stiff pedals you find on some processors. The expression pedal even has grippy skateboard tape on it, so you don’t slide your foot off when moving the pedal. The power button is on the back of the unit, and is enclosed so you don’t turn it off by bumping it on accident. BOSS definitely “idiot proofed” this unit!

I really like the idea that the GX 100 can be used with guitar and bass, and this is the first feature I really want to address. Most multi-FX units are targeted at one or the other, and that makes it a pain for people like me. By “people like me” I mean people that make music at there home studio, and don’t want to have to switch between several FX units during the flow of recording a song. The BOSS GX 100 does both, making it the perfect recording platform. I didn’t get to test the bass features, but they were there in the menus.

You have 8 footswitches, that can be used however you program them. By default, they allow you to change the different patches that you have designed, and you can bank through them. But you can change what the footswitches do completely. You can assign them to turn only the effects on and off if you want, or assign them to do whatever you need them to do. This is all controllable from the touchscreen menu options. I left it on the default setting, and having several unique tones per bank is how I would probably use it myself. But, its totally up to the user!

The touchscreen is a neat addition, and it is something you usually don’t see on a unit at this price point. The touchscreen is way more intuitive than what I was expecting. You can drag and drop effects and amps into your signal path, and edit it however you want. For the values, like EQ and Gain, you have 4 physical knobs that control the onscreen parameters. The screen is big enough to read patch names on stage, and editing is highly visible and colorful. The screen is very responsive, and you can even lock it like your phone to avoid accidentally changing settings. This locks the screen itself, and all of the knobs.

You can also use the input/output system in a lot of different ways. The input/output system on these all in one processors can make or break the product. Everyone has different needs depending on the guitarist’s situation. You can run it directly into an interface or front of the house PA system if you want, but there are so many other options. You also have:

  • Headphone Out
  • MIDI In and Out
  • Stereo Out
  • FX Loop (With Ground Lift)
  • USB Out for Recording
  • Control Jack: This controls your “real” amplifier channels when used in conjunction with an amplifier.
  • Bluetooth Control Adapter Port (Optional)
Boss Gx 100
BOSS GX 100: Rear View

The back of the BOSS GX 100 has everything you can imagine when it comes to inputs and outputs. If you don’t own a recording interface, the GX 100 will act as one via USB. So you can plug directly into your computer, open your DAW and start recording. This is perfect for ideas on the go, and you can monitor the recording through the headphone jack. This is an excellent option for guitarists just getting into recording, or for jotting down riffs before you forget them.

The Headphone Out works great as well, and it will handle any stereo effects you are running (More on that later). The headphone jack doesn’t bypass your impulse response, so this is a great tool for dialing in tones silently. Of course, this also makes the BOSS GX 100 are fantastic practice buddy as well. You can rock as hard as you want without disturbing anyone, and the sound quality is top notch.

I never use MIDI with guitar, but its here if you ever want to experiment with it. Technically, you could use the BOSS GX 100 with a MIDI pickup, like the Roland Guitar Synth. MIDI pickups have a lot of capabilities, but its not something I have ever explored. I’m sure there are lots of uses, but for most guitarists MIDI is probably overkill.

The stereo out is actually a really important feature! This is because you can run two distinct signal paths at the same time. So you can run one amp model to the right speaker, and another through the left speaker as well as stereo effects. The BOSS GX 100 allows two signal paths, as well as effects. This really blew my mind, because I have always flirted with the idea of a stereo setup, using two different amplifiers. Here, you can mix and match however you want, with a dedicated FX signal chain for both amps. This opens up a whole new world of possibilities with two FRFR cabinets!

The Control Jack and FX Loop are both features for people that plan on using the BOSS GX 100 with other gear. The Control feature allows you to change the channels on your amplifier if you are using the GX 100 as an “effects only” unit bypassing the amp modeler, with your amp providing the main tones. The FX Loop allows you to add your favorite pedals if you want, and use them together with the GX 100. Again, the possibilities are endless with how you can use this unit.

The optional Bluetooth adapter seems like a strange choice on a unit that has a full touchscreen. But if you want, the adapter is sold separately and you can plug it up in the back. This allows you to dial in tones from your phone or tablet. But this seems a little redundant since there is a touch screen already right in front of you. This feature seems like an afterthought and it is a weird choice for BOSS to include Bluetooth, if you ask me. At the same time, I can see guitarists complaining on forums that it doesn’t have Bluetooth, even if they are never going to use it.

The built in tuner is AMAZING! This is a full on polyphonic tuner, which means you can tune each string individually, or all of them at the same time. The tuner also has different settings for different guitars. For example, there is an option for 7 string guitars, standard tuning, drop tunings, and popular open tunings as well! If you want to tune to DADGAD, then there is an option for that! I have never seen a processor tuner that is this intuitive and usable. Want to play in Drop A? Just select the tuning!

I feel like BOSS put a lot of thought into the GX 100 and its built to cover the needs of all kinds of different guitarists. These are features that you expect to see on the big, expensive flagship models. The only corner that was cut as far as I can tell, is the DSP. The sound quality, and sampling rate is all top notch. But it pales in comparison to the GT 1000 unit. Personally, this doesn’t bother me a bit. Having 15 effects and two amps at a time is more than I will ever need. All of the sounds are amazing to my ears…speaking of…

BOSS GX 100 Multi FX Processor

The BOSS GX-100 guitar effects processor fuses advanced BOSS tone technologies with sleek, ultramodern hardware design for top-shelf performance in any setting. Explore 23 AIRD amplifiers and over 150 effects derived from the flagship GT-1000, and craft great sounds in seconds with the intuitive color touch display. Up to 15 simultaneous effects.

BOSS GX 100: Sounds, Amps, And Effects

The AIRD technology is a layover from the flagship GT 1000 unit, and it stands for “Augmented Impulse Response Dynamics”. This is going to be the main way that you control the amp models and speaker options, along with any IR you want to load from a third party. The BOSS GX 100 can load any WAV based impulse response you may already use with other products. While not as powerful as the GT 1000 model, the GX 100 offers an overwhelming amount of effects and amps.

There are a couple of really important options when you start making a patch of your own. First, there is a global EQ that affects the entire signal. Second, there are routing options for input and output. The routing options are crazy! You can choose what the input is, whether bass or guitar… down to what kind of pickups you are using. The output is tailored to whatever your are running the BOSS GX 100 into. For example: Amplifier front, headphones, FRFR cab, PA system, FX loop, and Power amp. This assures that the output from the processor matches where the signal is going, perfectly. The routing detail here is insane!

Diving into the amps you have 23 different options that range from Fender Cleans, to Friedman boutique sounds. Like most modelers, the names are cleverly rearranged to avoid trademark issues, but you know exactly what you’re dialing up when you tap on the “Clean Twin” setting. I tried each one of the models without any effects, and the high gain models is where the BOSS GX 100 really shines. Strangely enough, we have Orange, and Marshall…yet no Peavey 5150 model in sight. To be honest, this is kind of a relief. The 5150 sound is so overused these days, it was nice to see some more rare options like the Friedman.

For cleans, I really liked the “Boutique” model, since you can go from clean to crunch with the gain control. There is also a “Natural” that is completely transparent and clean. Other clean tones like the Fender based and VOX based tones were all really on point as well. You can deep dive each amp, and even access the saturation and “sag” of each model. This can be as difficult, or as easy as you want! The clean tones are a step above the BOSS Katana, I would say.

The high gain options had some interesting choices too, and some of them I found needed some serious tweaking. For example, the “Juggernaut” model sounded a little fizzy until I pulled up the EQ and started messing with the parameters. The Marshall style amps sounded amazing the moment I dialed it in. But my favorite was the “Bogner Uber”, which is an amazing and versatile amp model. But every single amp model has its own unique sound, and nothing was really “repurposed” or reused through all of the models.

Changing between my two guitars really showed off the characteristics of each amp. The single coils were especially dynamic with each model, where the EMG was more of a flat response, as you would imagine. Using the input options, though…really brought the BOSS GX 100 to life. You see, you can tell the unit what you are plugging up to it. So you can select a low output pickup option when using single coils, and then switch the input option to the higher gain pickup response for the EMGs. This can get really in depth, so I mostly kept the input on the medium setting, just to test all of the amps. But the input options definitely change the way the amp models react!

All of the amplifiers have great character, and the quality of the sounds is immense. I have been really impressed with my Katana for a gigging platform, but the BOSS GX 100 takes those sounds that the Katana is capable of, and drags them through the mud. With these amp models, BOSS is giving Line 6 a run for its money. The 23 amps may sound paltry in the world of multi-FX, but each one has its own unique tone. Any sound or genre you can think of can be acquired with these 23 amps, especially if you…combine them!

The Divider function allows you to set up two totally distinct signal paths, which means you can pick two amps and you chain of effects to switch between on the same patch! You can also blend the two however you want, so if you want a clean amp and a dirty amp on the same patch, you can do it. I didn’t get to play with this as much as I would have liked, but what a cool idea. Our BOSS rep did mention that you can’t go too crazy with this feature, or you can overload the DSP. So technically, you can have two totally different tones per patch!

BOSS GX 100 Multi FX Processor

The BOSS GX-100 guitar effects processor fuses advanced BOSS tone technologies with sleek, ultramodern hardware design for top-shelf performance in any setting. Explore 23 AIRD amplifiers and over 150 effects derived from the flagship GT-1000, and craft great sounds in seconds with the intuitive color touch display. Up to 15 simultaneous effects.

When it comes to controlling the AIRD amps, there is a ton of stuff you can do with the amp parameters. The knobs can control the cabinets you are using, the IR, mic distance, cab resonance, and speaker types. This is all done is real time without any delays while you are dialing in your tone. The speakers and cabs make the most difference with the overall sound, just like in real life. The BOSS GX 100 allows you to store 16 of your own IRs, and you can control them as well under the “user” parameter.

The FX chain can be designed however you want by dragging and dropping. For instance, if you want all of your effects in front of the amp…you can do that. You have the choice of 150 different effects that are straight out of the BOSS pedal catalog, and you can run 15 of these effects at the same time. I never dialed in a patch with more than a few, but for live situations I can see how having all of the effects available is useful. The BOSS GX 100 is a “virtual pedalboard” and you design the signal paths, as well as decide how to switch them on and off. This is a Shoe Gazer’s dream!

The way the signal path is designed, you can even have duplicates of effects. For instance, you can have 3 delays in the same path, all of them with different settings. You can then assign the footswitches to change between the 3 delays. Hell, you can have 15 delays in a row if you want. The possibilities are overwhelming, and totally limitless. The quality of effects are what you expect from BOSS/Roland and some are pretty… obscure. The “Space Reverb” was my favorite to use by far, and that is just one of many reverbs to choose from. Each patch also bleeds into the next, so reverb and delay tails do not suddenly stop when you switch patches.

I could type out a list of all of the amps and effects available, but that would be a huge waste of time. Whatever you are looking for, the BOSS GX 100 probably has it. The amp models sound extremely real, and react like a tube amp to your playing nuances, and guitar volume control. If you wanted to do a real “deep dive” into the BOSS GX 100, there is a Tone Studio app for it, just like the Katana. The Tone Studio allows you to download patches, or dial in your own. But it also allows a serious dive into all of the functions that may be a pain to try and set with the touchscreen, like routing.

BOSS GX 100: Final Verdict

If you keep up with my articles, stuff like the BOSS GX 100 is kryptonite to me. I don’t like to endlessly scroll through menus and have a thousand different choices to make when it comes to guitar tone. I get option paralysis, and end up never actually programming anything. But there are some guitarists out there that can apparently control and organize themselves enough to use these kinds of multi-FX units. I know I’m not one of those guitarists!

But for people who do use this kind of technology, the BOSS GX 100 is probably one of the more sophisticated units that I have had the pleasure to review. No matter what your live setup may be, the BOSS GX 100 can find its niche in your rig. Conversely, it can also be a powerful studio tool for bass and guitar alike. If this unit records as well as it sounds through the FRFR, then you could do a whole album just with the GX 100.

BOSS has been absolutely killing it lately. Where just a decade ago BOSS was known for its outstanding pedals, now BOSS has carved out a little patch in the amp modeling world. First with the Katana, and now with the GX 100. BOSS has always made some quality multi-FX units, but the BOSS GX 100 is next level with design and function. In fact, unless you’re a touring professional, the GT 1000 is total overkill when you have this! The BOSS GX 100 might have been a bad idea! BOSS is shooting themselves in the foot when the budget product is almost as good as the flagship!

Bottom line is, if you need an FX processor that has all of the options as the big boys at a lower price point, the BOSS GX 100 might be what you have been looking for. It certainly offers features that Line 6 and other companies don’t have at this price point. The BOSS GX 100 fills a gap for the product lineup, without any compromise in quality.

The BOSS GX 100 Ships in April. Now Taking Preorders!

BOSS GX 100 Multi FX Processor

The BOSS GX-100 guitar effects processor fuses advanced BOSS tone technologies with sleek, ultramodern hardware design for top-shelf performance in any setting. Explore 23 AIRD amplifiers and over 150 effects derived from the flagship GT-1000, and craft great sounds in seconds with the intuitive color touch display. Up to 15 simultaneous effects.

Is The BOSS GX 100 Expensive?

At a $599.00 price point, the BOSS GX 100 offers a lot of features for guitarists, whether you gig or you just play at home. There are tons of features that competitors would never offer at this price.

Can I Record With The BOSS GX 100?

You can, and you can do it in a few different ways! The USB function allows you to bypass an interface and plug directly into your computer. The stereo line out allows you to route into an interface or mixing board with ease.


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