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OC-2 vs. OC-3

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by niftydog, Nov 3, 2005.

  1. Just ABed these two Boss Octaves out of interest, thought some of you might be interested in my take on the results.

    First, the OC-3's "OC-2" mode:

    First thing to say is that in general the OC-3 has a lot more gain than the OC-2. Cranking up the knobs results in a fairly major volume boost compared to the dry sound. This goes for both octave level knobs as well as the direct level knob. Setting the octaves at approx 70% level creates the most faithful reproduction of the OC-2. And, if you weren't familiar with the OC-2 you'd basically have no idea there was a difference.

    However, when you compare you will notice that the OC-3 octave sound seems to have much more definition to it. Sounds like more midrange EQ boost - the effect is that it kinda sounds a bit honky compared to the very subdued and muffled tone of the octaves on the OC-2.

    Using that available boost and cranking up the octaves takes it beyond anything the OC-2 is capable of. Personally, I think it's OTT - the octaves stand out a lot and you can hear all the artifacts and weird nastys that are otherwise buried in the mix when using the OC-2. If you could get this much gain out of the old version it would probably sound like this. Unfortunately at this level you can also hear some modulation in the octave when you let the instrument sustain. When the octaves are sitting this proud in the mix its kinda off putting to hear them wavering around as if they have bad chorusing added to them. The OC-2 also has a slight hint of the same thing, but because of their more subdued sound I had never really noticed it before.

    The Poly mode:

    It works pretty well I guess, and I was excited to try it out - but after about ten minutes of mucking around I came to a realisation; I couldn't think of a single instance in which this would be useful to me - even when playing guitar Still, I am but one man and I'm sure others will use it in ways that I have not imagined.

    IMO it just sounded muddy and ugly on chords. Yes it works, yes it works pretty damn well, yes it tracks jazzy chords... BUT it's just a pretty useless sound in reality, and the jazzier the chord, the uglier it gets. A major exception I suppose is that it would make power chords sounds pretty fat with some kick ass distortion following it. But, then again, straight octaves sound damn fat with distortion too!

    The most useful feature of this mode is the RANGE knob. This allows you to select a band of frequencies inside of which the octave is generated. Outside of this band, the signal is left unprocessed. This can be employed to great effect by playing in and out of the frequency band. For instance, set it to affect low frequencies and all your fat, low down finger picking has the octave added. However, slip in a little slap lick somewhere up the fretboard and it comes out clean! Or, vice versa, leave the low notes clean, but when you drop in a fill lick up the neck in between verses you get the definition of a full sounding high note with octave.

    Nothing you cant do with some foot co-ordination, but this is a no brain-er set and forget - no mistakes and no strained look of concentration on your face! I can see this type of feature being common on new pedals in the future.

    Drive mode:

    Yeah, well, it's ok I guess. Nothing really special, but surprisingly flexible for what seems like a bit of an afterthought. You can even dial it down to just a straight distortion if you want (without the octave.) There seems to be some interaction between the octave control and the drive sound in this mode. I know that sound obvious, but it's more than what you might think. The octave knob varied the octave sound, but it also appeared to change the character of the distortion - giving it more bite and presence the higher you went. It almost seems as if it's intentionally trying to compensate for the extra woofiness you get from cranking the octave by adding a bit more edge to the sound. Don't know if that's how it's intended, but that's what I heard. Perhaps it's just by virtue that it drives the distortion circuitry harder creating more harmonics (square-er waveforms.)

    So, that's that. Everything else is as you would expect from Boss - which IMO is damn good. Easy to use, clearly labeled and built like a brick ****-house. Some marks off because the finish on the case seemed to be easily scratched which is not a huge problem, but seemed unusual in my experience of Boss pedals.

    So, I give it a 8/10 on the surface, but it's just not for me. Good sound, great features, but when it comes down to it, the OC-2 does everything I need it to do.
  2. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    Well, there ya go!

    That was a handy and concise review. I'v been wondering about just what you covered here, Nif!


  3. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    Oo - now I just found an OC-2 used for US$50. Sound like a good price?

  4. I have found that the poly mode greatly improves the tracking of the device, as does preceding it with a compressor.

    I use poly mode some for double stops, and it is nice to have for those moments when you may have another string ringing for some reason.

    I can't say I've used it much on actual chords (3 or more notes) - I don't know how good 3 notes ringing against the same 3 an octave lower sounds on the bass, to my ear.
  5. Cantstandsya


    Jul 27, 2001
    Fontana, CA
    I would like to try the OC3 but I am afraid of damaging my speakers with the sub-octave. Should I be worried?
  6. Thurisarz


    Aug 20, 2004
    +1 I wonder too
  7. It has that potential, but lets face it, you'd have to be pretty careless to let that happen to your gear. Use it wisely and it won't be a problem!
  8. Cantstandsya


    Jul 27, 2001
    Fontana, CA
    Can you be more specific as to what not to do?What's the lowest note I should play with octaver without risking my speakers?
  9. It's not so much that as just overall output level of your amplifier.

    Like, don't crank your clean sound as high as you dare to go then kick in an OC-3 with everything dimed! That's silly, not sensible and could easily end in :crying:

    Just like with everything in your signal path, you gotta sneak up on the right setting. Turn down the octave levels to zero, set the main volume at a midpoint and ease it up. You'll soon know when you've gone to far for your system, it'll start sounding like a WWE dressing room after a big night on the Vindaloo.

    Get your clean sound set first, at the appropriate volume level, then ease your way into each effect you add. Most effects have gain, and that alone can be dangerous, so just take it bit by bit and you'll be fine.

    Compression will help a bunch, but only if you know what you're doing. Some "one knob" compressors are set for maximum punch which is not useful for protecting speakers from transient overload. If you're really worried, get yourself a limiter and learn how to set it correctly. This will potentially save you some heartache.
  10. Cantstandsya


    Jul 27, 2001
    Fontana, CA
    I would be using the Punch Factory which is a "one knob" compressor so I guess that won't help in protecting my speakers.I do hear that putting a compressor before an octaver helps it sound alot better though.I guess i'll just give it a try.I usually match my levels pretty even with the effect on/off.I think i'll be ok as long as I don't see my clip light and I keep it(oc3) on the A string and above.Thanks for your advice :bassist:
  11. There's compressors and there's compressors. I'm not familiar with the Punch factory, but I would say it's not optimised for protection. Compressor before the octave may make it sound better, but compression at the last step before the amp is where you want protection type of compression (or limiting).
  12. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    'For some reason'? Don't ya hate that..?

    Anyway: I finally read the manual for the OC-3, to discover that in poly mode there's a 'range' adjustment for what note-pitches you want it to track best in.

    ..So NOW I finally know how well this thing really works in poly-mode!!


    I was even trying to freak it out by using my "finger-thumps on the octave harmonic" technique, which is one of my present methods of 'octaving' (the other, of course, being just actually fretting octaves, and plucking with index and middle together). It worked great; sounded even fatter (OC-2 mode doesn't fare so-well in this application -- eesch!).

    I found that even with the tiniest amounts of the octave added, it fattened things up similar to how some amps have a 'sub-knob' or whatever - very transparent-, 'un-effected'- sounding. At the same time, though, I could run pure octave, and it still was a nice tone on its own.

    I could maybe even find some use for that distorted mode... I dunno about the OC-2 mode, though... (and YES, I DO practice careful muting and clean playing!)

    I know I should be saving for a POG. I totally should. I'm tempted, though - dang-it!!

    Oh - also: Just this last Sat. I was doing my house-soundguy gig for a band called Living Dred (wasn't mixing - they brought their own guy), and something with the bass guitar broke. The bassist had a spare, but it wasn't on stage. As soon as the guitarist noticed, he suddenly started filling-in with bass lines, but I mean BASS lines! I ran up to the front of the stage, and sure-enough: there was an OC-3 with an LED glowing on it (Duhh - I forgot to check what MODE it was in!).

  13. Petary791


    Feb 20, 2005
    Michigan, USA
    Is the poly mode like a smart harmonizer?
  14. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    No! Poly refers to how it will, to some musical-sounding extent, do what it does on a complex waveform. The OC-2 mode not-only can't octave two notes at the same time (which includes a fundamental and one or more harmonics of any significant amplitude), but it frrps-out on a waveform that has any 'unexpected' waveform 'zero crossings'. All this stuff happens all the time in natural sound.

    Anyway - everyone says that poly mode lets you play double-stops. that's true, but the same engineering that lets it do that, lets it octave 'imperfect waveforms' (ones with harmonics), and imperfect playing too (maybe uneven plucking or imperfect muting).