Although Boss is under pressure by brands like TC Helicon when it comes to harmonizers, they are still holding their ground. Boss VE-2 is an affordable, simple, but also one of the most agile harmonizer pedals out there. Let's take a closer look and see what it has to offer.
From the get go, it is clear that VE-2 is a harmonizer pedal and not much more. Boss has other models which are far more versatile, but this one was designed to deliver the core of this effect. Even so, they did include basic delay and reverb effects. You can't tweak them too much, nor are there many types to choose from. You can basically select either one, or mix them. With that said, the build quality is on that standard Boss level. In other words, it could probably survive a nuke.
All of the controls are on the top panel, while the I/O is in the back. Speaking of which, there are lots of options in there. You get the standard guitar in and thru, MIC in, XLR out as well as USB. Phantom power is there and so is a sensitivity control for the microphone.
We would love to tell you that Boss VE-2 features a clean and simple control interface. However, that is not really true. The control panel is quite a bit confusing on a first glance, with all the buttons, knobs and LED indicators spread everywhere. The core of this section comes down to three knobs. You have the Balance, Type and Key. Balance is pretty self explanatory, while Type allows you to choose from 24 different harmony modes. 12 of those are one voice and the other 12 are two-voice harmonies.
Even though it is a a guitar controlled harmonizer, the Key knob allows you to manually set the key. VE-2 can also be forced into hybrid mode where both the guitar and manual key are used. The foot switch is not your standard unit, but rather a wide flat one, similar to those on classic Boss pedals.
For all the troubles of navigating the crowded control interface, your reward is a very solid core performance. We are talking pretty organic tone even when you go crazy with harmony modes. Built in delay and reverb are okay, but nothing to write home about. With that said, they won't stand out as artificial if used lightly. When it comes to tracking, things are great.
The pedal has no trouble following you through complex chord progressions. Dropping it into hybrid mode yields some fairly interesting results. Depending on your settings, having that manually set key can help a lot. What matters the most is that the pedal tracks just fine even in this mode. In essence, Boss VE-2 is everything it claims to be. Nothing more and nothing less. That is something we can appreciate.
At the end of the day, Boss VE-2 represents a fairly affordable alternative to more complex designs out there. It's simple, offers rock solid performance as well as reliability. We'd love to see a better organized control panel, but that is not too big of a deal all things considered.