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Rating and Reviews: Zoom G5n Multi-Effects

Have all the tones! Zoom's G5n multi-effects pedal boasts 68 DSP effects, 10 amp and cab sims, plus stereo outputs and USB out for seamless recording.

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"Outboard Collection of Premium Plugins (with No Latency!)" submitted March 21, 2016

By Christopher Lange in Saint Louis, MO
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Musical Background: Guitar, keyboards, synths
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Overall: Looking at the G5n as ONLY a guitar multi-effects pedal still makes it well worth the price, but that would be selling it WAY short in terms of what this self-contained digital beast can do. For those of us who also play keyboards, synths, drum machines, and bass, think of this as an entire rack of beautiful effects processing options that open up a whole world of pro tone sculpting possibility. Yes, these effects by themselves do sound digital (because they ARE), but if you start with a good analog sound source and finish with a mic’d up tube amp or quality tube DI, you can capture some serious pro quality sounds with beautifully complex depth and texture. Line6 and Boss both charge significantly more for products that do absolutely NOTHING better than the G5n. So why dump any more money than absolutely necessary into a digital effects unit that you know will become a doorstop eventually anyway? The Zoom G5n delivers every last nuance of the best effects units available on the market today, and it does it all at a price you can afford to replace in a few years. PROS * Equal or better sound quality than competing products from Line6 and Boss, all at a much lower price. * Better and more intuitive user interface than Line6 and Boss competition. * The “ZNR” noise reduction effect performs amazingly well, and can be tweaked perfectly for any application. Especially for those of us who hate unnecessary pickup and amp noise in our recordings, this is worth the price of the entire unit alone. I’ve actually paid the same price as this unit for a Waves noise reduction plugin that I don’t like as much as the one inside the G5n. * No wimpy 12AX7 tube output that everybody knows won't make much difference, and which just becomes a maintenance liability over time. The old G5 had one of these, and Zoom should be applauded for ditching the gimmick. * Takes a huge load off of your DAW in terms of effects plugins. Also, unlike your DAW, you can monitor any instrument through the G5n without any noticeable latency. * The two tone booster dials are great for when you’ve been crafting new patches through headphones, but then you want to plug the G5n into your amp and you’re frustrated because you don’t hear the same frequency balance out of your amp that you did in your headphones (coming directly out of the G5n headphone jack). The two tone booster dials let you tweak the EQ of your frequency response (in a pleasant and natural/analog sounding way) so that your amp sounds accurate tonally to what you were hearing in the headphones. This keeps you from having to save two differently tweaked patches of the same effects chain just so you can hear the correct frequency balance through either your headphones or your amp. CONS * USB recording interface is convenient for recording rough ideas, but not realistic as a pro DI/converter. Luckily the stereo ¼” analog out jacks do a good job of letting you use your tube preamps for DI recording anyway, but it would be nice not to have to pass through an extra layer of D/A conversion if not absolutely necessary. * Amp & cabinet models are excellent tools for tone shaping, but no they don’t sound like the real deal (and no digital emulation ever will if you're listening back through quality DAC). Nonetheless, that doesn’t mean running reasonable gain settings on these amps and cabs into the clean channel of your tube amp can’t still create very impressively detailed recording tones. * Some people have reported that too many effects in a chain causes the DSP chip in the G5n to overload, but I’ve found the only time that happens is when you’re trying to chain multiple amps and cabinet models altogether, and it’s not something you (sonically) should want to attempt anyway. With one amp and one cabinet selected, you can still add a compressor, delay, reverb, and chorus, etc. There's plenty of DSP here to get you into trouble (in a good way). TIP: The modeled amp "heads" ften don’t sound as good as simply running one of the distortion pedals directly into a modeled cabinet. Requires less DSP too.
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