I’ve been looking into hardware solutions to amp simulation for a while now, because as much as I like sound of amp sim plugins, plugins in general are a pain in the ass. Move project to a new/different computer (like a laptop)? Oh wait you’re missing that one plugin. Want to coop with someone on a project? Hope they have the same OS as you, and also the same plugins. Want to share a .xrns on the Renoise forums? Oh dear god, the process of de-plugining a project to make that work…
I’ve been looking at mostly line 6 stuff, because the pods are inevitably what you see people talk about on forums, but the only affordable things I saw from them were either discontinued or sounded kind of bad. All the good shit from line 6 is a few months rent, just can’t do it.
Of course there’s Axe FX lol.
Anyways I did some googling around and stumbled across the Zoom line, which I didn’t even know they made this kind of stuff. Let me explain what this pedal is: for the same price as pretty much any boss pedal I’ve ever seen ($100) that only does one single thing like distortion, this Zoom pedal packs 100 effects, including several amp sims. Good selection of amp sims, distortions, compressors, delays, reverbs, modulation effects like tremelo, vibrato, choruses, some weirder cool stuff like slow attack, an acoustic sim, pitch shifters, and some other stuff. For each kind of thing, like distortion, there’s enough options for there to be variety, but limited enough that it’s not just 100 distortions and no room for other effects. You just pick up to 6 you want to use in a chain and save it as a preset. It has a “stomp” button, so you can select the pedal in your chain you want to be able to toggle on and off and then you can put it on the floor to use it like a normal guitar pedal.
Here’s the thing: it sounds fucking amazing. Even the cabs sound good. I’m still bypassing the cabs to use IR’s for my high gain tones, just because I’m using 2 IR’s to make it stereo, but the built in cabs are legit really good. All the effects sound really good. The sounds I’m getting out of this little thing are as good or better than any results I ever got with plugins.
So if you play guitar and would like a pluginless tone, I can’t recommend this thing enough. I don’t know why I never see this pedal mentioned anywhere, it’s incredible for $100. Hell, a Boss Overdrive pedal alone will run you $150, and you can use this as just a normal guitar pedal, you don’t have to use the amp sims, they’re just another effect.
10/10, exceeded all expectations and completely satisfies what I wanted to do with it.