ZOOM G2 – cheap and good guitar multi-effects.
Most guitarists probably remember the Zoom effect 505. Small box made in 96 in the last century caused quite a stir among us. These beginners were blown away by the possibilities, it offered for its price. More advanced, in turn, saw in him the child of Frankenstein.
The baby was going to be great, beautiful and capable, however, it did not offer the quality expected. Zoom 505 there was a lack of dynamics, it was flat and the ability to edit parameters left much to be desired, and the effects implemented in it were weak. Aesthetically, it wasn't great either. As the owner of this model myself, I was initially fascinated by it, that everything is contained in one box, what could I expect - and even more! Unfortunately, with the use of this contraption, the hunger increased, which over time turned into disappointment.
Since I kept at home 505 a lot has changed. I switched to a better guitar and got a taste of a tube amp. From that moment on, I looked indulgently at any devices designed to simulate the sound of a guitar amp, the more fully blown up, throwing rubble and brimstone lamp head fastened to a solid column. And suddenly I decided to buy a Zoom, although I did wait, that never again…
I bought the G2 with a caveat, when he doesn't answer me, i can return it. Intensive testing has begun. I must mark, that I bought it to work in a tube amplifier loop, in my case it is Black Dog Rebel 50 Custom, so the modulation and delay effects were the most important for me.
You can see the differences at first glance. The housing is made of metal, finished with rubber walls on the sides - I admit it, that very ingenious and certainly more solid than 505. At first glance, we can also see four silver knobs. This already promises much greater editing possibilities compared to its predecessor. The patch change buttons are also different and I'm not sure about that, or better… Especially, that we shouldn't be fooled by the chrome surface - it's plastic, I checked it by violating, for this review, perfect condition of your own copy, to be absolutely sure 😉 The display also remained the same as in 505: double eight-segment, red LED. So much for general impressions, time to look under the hood.
The G2 is powered by a DSP engine called ZFX-3. What is different from its predecessor, that is ZFX-2? The older processor samples at a frequency 41.1 kHz using for A/D conversion 18 bits and 20 bits in D/A. The ZFX-3 looks really impressive next to it: 96 kHz i 24 bity A/D/A. For this, the processor's internal processing uses a 32-bit architecture. Sounds nice. And indeed, I tried to plug various contraptions into the loop of my amplifier, but it always ended with a few minutes of playing - or they cut the bandwidth, or muted the dynamics, or both. Zoom's new DSP must be given justice - not mules. There is also an option, I have such wooden ears, that I just can't hear it, a couple of people have tried to tell me that
Now let's take a closer look at the panel. Four knobs, one of which is a switch to select a module in edit mode, as well as to select the PLAY mode. The other three are digital knobs for adjusting various parameters depending on the effect. In PLAY mode, they are responsible for adjusting the GAIN, TONE and LEVEL of the DRIVE module responsible for amplifier simulations. There are five buttons below: BANK/EFFECT TYPE - used in PLAY mode to change banks and in edit mode to select an effect from all available in the module; STORE - to save patch changes; on/off button for the built-in drum machine and TAP – used to infuse time values in some effects. Below the display, there are buttons for changing patches. Pressing both of these buttons will activate the BYPASS mode in which the tuner is available, which actually works quite well. Very nice, that Zoom engineers have provided a tuner mode with muted output. We will launch it when we press and hold the patch change buttons for more than a second.
There are three jack sockets on the rear panel: Input, Output oraz Control In. Next to it there is a socket and a power switch. As for the power, It is also possible to power the effect with four AA batteries, or if you prefer big fingers. And here we will again refer to the predecessor. When I put the battery in 505 after just five minutes, if not earlier, there was a signal about low battery so I gave up such ideas. In the manual for the G2 model it is written, it can run on batteries. 7,5 hours. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to play for seven hours non-stop, and as you can guess, just turning on the device is not enough, because then the A/D/A converter will not work. So I decided to use the built-in drum machine as a substitute, having assumed, that its activation should result in an increase in energy consumption. The result was interesting. It turned out, that the effect may work longer than stated in the documentation. The result we got is this 9, in words - nine hours of operation of the effect until the information about low batteries lights up. I confess without beating: I missed the moment when the cells were exhausted to the core, but the result that the G2 will achieve seems fine to me. I mark, that I used four branded alkaline batteries for the test.
Editing the settings requires some practice due to the limited user interface, but after a few minutes you can gain satisfactory practice. First select the module with the switch, which we want to address. Buttons +/- EFFECT TYPE are used to browse the available effects within the module, and the knobs adjust the parameters. There are plenty of effects, although in most devices of this type we find a similar set. So we have a compressor on board the G2, auto wah, auto resonance, booster, tremolo, phaser, ring modulator, slow attack, Vox and Dunlop duck simulations (require an external expression pedal), Zoom Noise Reduction, two types of noise gates, corrector 3 the 6 banded, speaker and microphone simulator, chorus, stereo chorus, flanges, pitch shifter, pedal pitch, vibrato, step, delay, echo, dynamic delay, dynamic flanger, mono pitch shifter, harmonized pitch shifter. It doesn't end there. We also have a separate delay module, in which we have a standard delay with a maximum delay of up to 5 s, pingpong delay and echo simulating old tape devices. In the REVERB module, we have several different reverbs and another delay, this time Multi Tap Delay. ufff…. All this is! I admit, that I was intrigued by the use of two delays at once and maybe one day I will use such patents in recordings. And it's worth noting, that you can use up to 9 different effects…
I left the simulation module for last. Unfortunately, it's a module, which did not impress me, but it's definitely much better than the simulations of Zoom's previous devices. The clean sounds are really good, but distorted sounds, hmmm… hard to say. For sure, the simulation of Mesa DR is thin, like any other attempt to put this monster in a digital box. Recently, my friends and I came to a conclusion, that's why it's happening, that manufacturers don't simulate DR, only simulations of ideas about DR - it is worth considering. Whereas the Peavey simulation 5150 I liked it and when I practice on Zoom alone, I use it most willingly. Nevertheless, my aversion to simulation was a major factor in my opinion on the subject. It should also be marked, that the cab-sim is directly related to the simulation module. Well, we can't choose a package, no microphone, nor does it have any additional settings. Package simulations are matched to each of the simulations, for example simulations 5150 and Mesy DR, after turning on the column simulator, receive packages of 5150SL 4, respectively×12 i Rectifier Standard 4×12, Fender Twin Reverb and Vox AC30 proper simulations of two 12" speakers, and the Fender Tweed simulating a single 12” Jensen speaker.
Full list of simulated amps and stompboxes:
• Fender Twin Reverb 65
• Vox AC 30/6TB
• Roland Jazz Chorus
• Marshall JCM 800
• Fender Tweed Deluxe 53
• Mesa/Boogie Mark III
• Marshall JCM 2000
• Mesa/Boogie DR
• Peavey 5150
• Boss OD-1
• Marshall Guvnor
• Matchless Hot Box
• Dallas-Arbiter Fuzz Face
• Boss MT-2
• Zoom Extreme Distortion
• Zoom Digital Fuzz
• Acoustic Simulator
Unfortunately, the effects block also has its disadvantages, although most of them hurt me because of that, that I plug my copy between the preamp and the power amp. First of all, few effects have a Level controller, allowing you to adjust the amount of signal processed by the module in the total signal, that is, in many cases, or at least among those effects with which I had the greatest hopes for their use, the processed signal is 100%, and dry, as you can guess 0%. Except reverbs and delay lines, where the presence of this parameter is obvious, only Booster still has it, Ring Modulator, Wah-Wah simulations, Chorus, Pitch Shifter i Vibrato. that's a lot, but how many guitarists use Flanger or Phaser, a city Ring Modulator? Well, You can not have everything.
We can control the Zoom G2 with an additional one, monostable foot-switch or expression pedal. You can control the volume with the pedal, Wah-Wah, gain and many other parameters for modulation and delay effects. Foot-switch allows you to switch to BYPASS mode more efficiently, move between banks, turn on/off the drum machine, and also works as Tap Tempo. It also has two delay controls: Delay Hold i Delay Mute. The first allows you to stop muting the delay reflections until f-s is pressed again, the second, when pressed, disconnects the input from the Delay module, thanks to which all reflections will disappear nicely and we can continue to play without the effect. There is no sudden cut-off of reflections that makes, that this feature is very useful.
Zoom G2 is a successful product aimed at less demanding or less wealthy guitarists. Spending 400 We don't expect too much for an effects processor - at least we shouldn't expect too much 😉 However, this processor has something, which is missing from many similar devices, even of a higher class: wide operating range and minimal impact on dynamics. It is perfect for exercise, and when we go away and we can take the guitar alone, we just throw it into the pocket of the cover and it's done. In the long run, however, it limits the execution of more complex sound ideas. However, if you think about the processor, which would give us much more editing possibilities, we go way above 1000 zloty.
In sum, today's teenagers have much better technology at their fingertips, than those of ten years ago, such as the author of this text. We are growing a generation of "digits"? ;)))