Mixdown’s Picks: Boss OC-5 Octave Pedal
22.10.2020

Mixdown’s Picks: Boss OC-5 Octave Pedal

Distributed by: Roland Australia | Expect to pay: $369

The world of audio and musical equipment can be a tricky one to navigate at the best of times. With so many different products, conflicting opinions and confusing reviews, it’s hard to know what’s actually the best product for your needs.

Luckily, the team at Mixdown have put in the legwork for you, sifting through the spec-sheets and putting the products through their paces to bring you Mixdown’s Picks – a new series of expansive, category defining product guides across our digital channels. Anything that has made the cut has rated highly across the board with the Mixdown staff, garnering a unanimous tick of approval from our staunch critics.

For this special, we’re turning our focus to one of the most essential aspects of any genre: the bass. Whether it’s jazz, punk, pop or beyond, it’s all about that bass, and to celebrate, we’re spotlighting the finest instruments, amplifiers, tools and effects available to the modern bassist today.

Boss OC-5 Octave Pedal

Key Features: It would be near impossible to find a pedalboard that doesn’t have a Boss pedal somewhere in its chain. The boxy, mouse-trap casing and slick serif-less (retro-futurist?) font are instantly recognisable, and have become synonymous with the very concept of the effect pedal as we know it.

Already a standard in the bass world – Boss’s legendary OC-2 and OC-3 pedals have been on the Mt. Rushmore for bass pedals since their release – it was clear that the announcement of the new OC-5 would be sure to send significant tremors throughout the bass community, with many players eager to get their hands on the latest incarnation of the product line. What they got was one of the most powerful and musical octave pedals ever made, and a testament to the brand’s enduring legacy as the biggest name in stompboxes.

The new OC-5 features elements of both the OC-2 and OC-3, but with an added feature set to make it an equally solid option for both guitar and electric bass. Housed in the classic Boss pedal chassis, complete with all important chocolate brown colour coding, the OC-5 bears all of your favourite visual signifiers of the formidable OC-2 in both looks and feel, but with all the improved latency and tracking engine of a modern pedal, meaning smoother blends and a broader, more natural tonal spectrum.

The pedal itself features -2, -1 and +1 octave shifts, with dedicated level controls for the different octaves allowing you to mix and match ratios to your liking; those who are familiar with the OC-2 will find a whole new axis of tone coloration with the octave up control. Switching the OC-5 into Poly mode shifts the pedal into an upgraded version of the OC-3, allowing you to even play full chords with octave effects on all notes, instantly thickening polyphonic sounds and allowing for some truly unruly sonic trickery out of the humble four string.

Boss have also introduced a new feature that will no doubt be a valuable addition to the solo performer’s arsenal: by turning the range knob to the “Lowest” setting, the OC-5 only responds to the lowest note of a chord. For a bass player looking to prove your musical independence, switching between optimised tracking modes for guitar and electric bass is as simple as flicking the switch at the bottom of the pedal, with both modes enjoying identical functionality.

Boss have also thoughtfully included a “direct out” output, allowing you to route both dry and affected signals to different paths, a feature which is sure to pay dividends in the studio or for musicians looking to adopt the OC-5 into a more complex signal chain.

Mixdown Says: In terms of feel, the OC-5’s response is lightning quick and super accurate. The Vintage mode is a faithful, albeit improved version of the OC-2 (save for the new ‘octave up’ knob), and the Poly mode takes the OC-3 and turns it into a whole new beast, independent of either of its previous incarnations.

Guitarists and bassists alike will find thick, fat sounds with the OC-5; the adventurous may even turn down the direct level completely to create completely new soundscapes, or the guitar playing songwriter might exploit this feature to demo a bass line in a pinch, without ever switching over to a ‘real’ bass guitar.

Even synth enthusiasts can benefit from the high quality harmonic simulations of the  OC-5, working particularly well for beefing up mono synth basslines or adding gravitas to a reamped MIDI track. A formidable name in the world of effects, Boss do not put out new products on a whim, and the iconic brand have once again shown why they are such a powerhouse in the effects world, improving on an already winning recipe and reimagining one of their classic pedals for the next generation.

Overall: The OC-5 sees Boss once again raising the bar for octave pedals, especially as it pertains to the modern bass guitarist; giving experimental players access to a whole host of new and exciting sounds while providing more conservative types with a high quality thickening agent for upholding the low end in a sparse or minimalist mix.

Find out more via Boss Australia today.