Price paid: $ 179
Purchased from: Sam Ash
Features — 8
This is ZT's smaller-than-a-lunchbox model. 5 inch speaker, 35 watts (in theory, more later) and a lot of really smart features that actually work as promised - runs on 120 or 240V so it's global, can also run on a 12V car battery, 9V power out for a pedal, battery back for mobile use, speaker off switch for headphone practice. If you can carry a Microcube in your valise when you travel, you can pack this. The amp has a metal grille to protect the speaker, good solid body though it looks like plastic. Came with a carry case, electric cable, wire to hook up a 9V pedal and a battery pack. I bought it from Sam Ash to get those accessories. Controls are V, T, gain. I'm lowering the rating only because it lacks some clean headroom, more later.
Sound — 8
At lower volumes, this thing sounds great. You can use it as a jazz or blues amp and make the women weep. OK, just kidding, but when I run a G2.Nu into it to get reverb and other effects, it's very nice indeed. The amp sound smooth. It distorts when the volume is past noon. You cannot use it in a band with a drummer unless you want to play distorted. It will do for a small room solo gig - especially a narrow room, the sound is very directional. You can also do a duo with an acoustic piano and it sounds terrific. You could also mike it. Look, if you need to get very loud, use something else. If you want an amp that sounds MUCH better and louder than a Microcube for a party or solo show, use this. I'm lowering the rating because it really sounds better if you use a mFX with it, for reverb and modeling.
Reliability & Durability — 9
This is built like a brick. Of course you can depend on it, as long as you're not depending on it to play with a full band in a stadium. I give it a nine because the only amps you can throw down the stairs and gig with are Peavey SS. Of course there's always a risk of mistreating an amp, and of course something can always break. This one looks like it was made to carry around the world. I have used it live three times, twice in situations where I strained it past its sweet spot. It sounds fine. Keep it in a place where you want an amp to practice that you can lock into a drawer and you'll be glad.
Overall Impression — 8
I've been playing almost 50 years. I do not buy luxury gear. I buy working gear, usually used; it's rare that I buy a piece new, like this one. Most of my guitars are Reverends, and most of my amps are Peaveys with aftermarket speakers, and people tell me they sound very good. I use very few effects, mainly MFX for reverb and delay and Tech 21 Character modelers. My main effect is a metal slide on my pinky. I play blues, soul, jazz, mainly solo, because the base of my style is Delta, and because I don't have time for a band; but I do sit in with lots of people, good players in different genres. I love gear that doesn't break my back or my eardrums. Instead of a pedalboard, I carry a Zoom G2.Nu; instead of big tube amps, I use mainly smaller SS combos or a 1X10 5 watter. Most people love the sound of electric guitars; they don't like being hammered by them. I'm always on the lookout for inexpensive, highly portable gear that sets up fast and sounds good. This is the most useable portable amp in its price range. The Peavey Nano Vypyr, another terrific small device, is just a little too big for a suitcase; the Microcube does not have comparable power to the ZT; the Pignose has nothing like the sweet sound the ZT can deliver. If you like small amps, as I do, and you like vintage sounds, you will be happy to own and use this. I wish it had more clean headroom, and that's 2 points off. But don't just look at the numbers, look at whether you need an amp for small rooms and crowds. The bottom line is I would buy it again, because there's nothing else this small and light you can bring to a party and be heard. This was a purchase I don't regret one bit.