Boss EQ-200 Review
Behold the transformative power of 10 frequency bands and four presets!
Easy to use. Compact.
Only four memory locations.
Ease of Use:
Boss’ 200 series might look a little like the company’s well-established 20 series, at a glance. But these new pedals, which include the EQ-200 reviewed here, are much more compact and streamlined. The EQ-200 itself is a powerful, feature-packed, programmable EQ. There are some overt differences between the new pedal and its elder cousin, the EQ-20. But the EQ-200’s smaller size does little to diminish its impressive sound-shaping power. The pedal has 10 frequency bands—30k, 60k, 120k, 200k, 400k, 800k, 1.6k, 3.2k, 6.4k, and 12.8k—with 11 positions on each slider, and its level control has a range from -15 to + 15 dB. You can also alter the frequency range in the pedal's extensive menus to better accommodate bass and drop tunings.
The EQ-200 is very intuitive, and it’s easy to get results and interesting sounds right away without opening the manual. While the previous EQ-20 had the ability to store up to nine presets, the EQ-200 has a limit of four presets. That’s enough to cover my core sounds. I suspect that for most players, it will also be an acceptable tradeoff for the EQ-200’s much smaller footprint.
There are two small push buttons for switching channels and storing presets into the memory with corresponding lights to differentiate between the functions. The two footswitches are for bypass and for cycling through the presets. To save settings, you press and hold the memory button, and use the memory footswitch to scroll to one of the four preset locations. When you reach the desired location, press and hold the memory button again and the corresponding red light will blink to confirm the action.
Because the sliders don’t physically move when you change presets, the display screen, which shows the preset EQ curve, is incredibly useful—especially when you’re onstage and might only have time for a quick glance. While the changes are smooth and instantaneous, the display screen first shows the name of the memory location (M-1, M-2, etc.) before displaying the EQ image. For some players, that might be a plus, but I would prefer an immediate switch to the graphic representation of the EQ profile.
Change Is in the Air
I tested the EQ-200 with an Ernie Ball/Music Man Axis Sport, a Mesa/Boogie Mark IV, and a Boss SD-1 for distortion and overdrive. With both humbucking pickups engaged, nudging the 1.6k and 3.2k frequencies gave single-notes and popping rhythm figures much more percussive and cutting presence. Boosting 200k, 400k, and 800k frequencies while dropping 3.2k, 6.4k, and 12.8k gave me smoky, Wes Montgomery-style jazz tones from my solidbody that exhibited delicious, edge-of-breakup sound for complex chords and harder picking. Fast single-note passages were noticeably thicker, too. More telling, perhaps, is that when I turned the EQ-200 off, my original tone sounded comparatively lifeless. If you’ve ever wondered how an EQ pedal can transform your tone, little experiments like this reveal a lot about a good EQ’s power.
The two settings I referenced above are sounds I’d use on a regular basis. But the EQ-200 is also handy for calling up sounds I’d use less frequently, for dramatic effect, and for which I might use another pedal entirely. For example, I set up a preset with 800 Hz and 1.6k boosted to get a quasi, cocked-wah sound. I only needed it for one song on a gig, but it was perfect and I didn’t require an extra pedal.
After much experimentation, I settled on three core saved sounds for my rig: a scooped “V” EQ curve for rhythm parts, a setting with accentuated mids for solos, and a setup with all the EQ sliders flat but with a tiny bump in the volume (so it functioned as a boost pedal). I filled up the last memory slot with a flat EQ down the middle, so I could adjust as needed, on the fly.
With its programmability, routing options, and ease of use, the EQ-200 can easily be integrated into any rig—complex or simple. It’s a useful pedal that gives you the power to sculpt thousands of sounds from ultra subtle to extreme. And with the potential to boot a few redundant boosts and overdrives from your board, it’s a great tool for cleaning house, too.