Before we can talk about the finer points of the Boss CE-5, there’s an important question we have to answer. What should a Chorus pedal do?
For those who aren’t aware, a Chorus is a pedal designed to make one guitar sound like multiple. First, it duplicates the signal. Then, it shifts the tune and timing so that the new signal sounds like a second instrument. Finally, depending on your settings, it adds some vibrato to the finished product. It’s a great effect that’s appeared in countless famous tracks.
That being said, while it might sound simple enough in theory, in practice there’s a lot that can go wrong. A great Chorus pedal has to not only duplicate the sound of your guitar, making slight alterations to the duplicate signal, but it must also successfully balance the treble, bass, and mid-tones while adding some measure of vibrato. Suffice it to say that, as with all effects, different pedals prioritise different goals
For a number of years, Boss have been one of the most popular pedal manufacturers in the world, and – aside from the highly controversial Metalzone – they have a great reputation with customers and critics alike. Over the years, they’ve been praised both for their durable casings and high-quality effects. In short, they’re a safe and reliable brand.
For many, the centrepiece of the Boss Chorus Ensemble line is the Boss CE-2 – an iconic pedal which, in some people’s eyes, set the bar for what a chorus pedal should be. That’s all well and good, but the CE-2 was discontinued in 1982, and although the CE-2w seeks to recreate that iconic sound, it’s far from the only option on the table. The main distinction between the Boss CE-5 and the CE-2w is that the CE-5 is digital whereas the CE-2w is analogue.
As a rule, analogue pedals do give a better overall sound. This is because they produce a continuous wave where digital pedals have a sample rate. On the other hand, the significant benefit of digital is that they tend to produce a more consistent sound.
But don’t just take our word for it! Give them both a listen and see which one you prefer.