Boss’ OC-2 Octave pedal was not made for bass, but nonetheless it became a true bass pedal classic. Later, Boss replaced it with the OC-3 Super Octave that had a dedicated bass input option, but is it better or worse? Let’s battle and find out…
The original OC-2 pedal was very simple to operate – just 3 knobs named DIRECT LEVEL, OCT 1 and OCT 2. And all of them behave exactly as you would expect them to, controlling the level of the dry signal, the -1 octave and the -2 octaves respectively.
Now, the OC-3 is slightly more complex. It has 4 knobs and the DIRECT LEVEL and OCT 1 knobs do the same as on the OC-2 pedal. The third knob can also act similarly to the OCT 2 on the OC-2, but it serves a number of functions, depending on how the fourth knob, MODE, is set. If you set the MODE knob to OCT 2, it essentially mimics the original OC-2 pedal. But you can also choose POLY or DRIVE modes instead of activating the sub octave (2 octaves below).
For this direct head to head shootout, I will only use the OC-3 in the OCT 2 mode in order to make a precise comparison as possible. But stay tuned for a full OC-3 Super Octave review, delving much more deeply into the alternative modes.
The sound clips cover both the OCT 1 and OCT 2 settings individually as well as in combination, and obviously, there would have to be a dedicated round to cover the almighty ‘octave synth sound’ where the direct signal is completely eliminated.
NOTE! Please use headphones or ‘real’ speakers. You simply can’t judge low-end material on laptop, tablet or phone speakers…!
NOTE! If you are on a mobile device, please turn it to landscape mode to see the knob settings of the pedal for each audio clip.
So what’s the verdict? Tough call, and probably a mater of taste and personal preference. But hey, I have an opinion and here it is… I prefer the old OC-2 pedal. But you are most welcome to disagree and leave a comment below. Discussions are always good to have – just keep it sober!
But why do I prefer the OC2? Basically, I just like the nature of its tone better. It may – or may not – be due to the fact that I have used it for so many years, and my ears have simply gotten so used to the tone that everything else sound just a little ‘wrong’ when compared directly. I do like the tracking of first octave of the OC-3 slightly better, but don’t really care for the OCT 2 sub-octave.
If it makes any sense, I think the OC-2 has a more distinct, yet warm tone, whereas the OC-3 has a very round tone (that is also ‘warm’), but it tends to get muddier.
Unfortunately, Boss discontinued the OC-2, but there are many used units floating around and they are usually quite cheap, so it shouldn’t be too hard to find one if that’s what you’re after. But in any case, I would strongly recommend that you also check out some alternative octave pedals. The ones from Boss are great – and classic – but there are quite a few out there that sounds as good (or even better) and also tracks better. For starters, you could check out the octave pedal reviews and the dedicated BIG octave pedal shootout: