Price paid: C$ 198
Purchased from: Long & McQuade
Ease of Use — 10
The Zoom G2.1Nu comes with a manual. It is very basic and well-written, so as long as you take some time to read through the procedures, the G2.1Nu will provide you with a vast variety of sounds for you to create. This unit is well-known for its user-friendly nature, as you can easily use the three PARM knobs to adjust the sound as you like it to be. Compared with the Boss ME-25 as well as Zoom G2, the Zoom G2.1Nu provides a screen with visual references to effect chains and parameters for you to adjust without having to read over the manual to find out what you have to do after you've just adjusted your effects patch. It also allows you to adjust Battery settings as well as recording settings (otherwise known as the GLOBAL button), which will allow you to hook up your system directly into a PA system without having to use a DI box. There is a new firmware version you can download on the official website, which revises some of the issues that were found on the factory version of the firmware. My unit has been upgraded, and it works very well without any issues.
Sound — 9
My music style can be considered a jack-of-all-trades music style when it comes to rock, although my predominant genre is heavy metal. This product creates digitally simulated sounds based on genuine guitar effects that are currently on the market. I should say I am quite impressed with it. Using it with my Fender Jaguar HH run through the CLEAN channel on my Line 6 Spider IV 30 gave me a wide variety of sounds I could use for rock and heavy metal music.
Let's begin with the clean sounds. The modulated sounds, especially the Chorus (which I use a lot) were smooth and without flaw. However, I'd advise using at least a light Compression and/or Equalizer when using the clean sounds, otherwise your guitar's output might sound a bit muddy with loss of clarity. Although I don't use the clean setting a lot, when I play funk or jazz music, I always use a standard compression to add clarity to the sound.
Now, let's get to the Drive sounds of the Zoom G2.1Nu. I was not very impressed with the light, overdriven sounds from simulated versions of Boss OD-1 and the Ibanez Tube Screamer as they had a slight loss of output and drive compared to their genuine counterparts. I myself had to max out the drive and tone in order to get a clear Eric Clapton-style guitar sound, although others might not have that much trouble when using this product. Despite this, I should congratulate Zoom for making a great set of distortion sounds; especially ExtremeDS and MetalWRLD (simulated counterpart of Boss MT-2), as the drive and tone from those distortions had superior quality and definition in making strong lead sounds. However, I was still not impressed with the "Lead" distortion; I once tried using it for a set of Steve Vai patches, and I noticed that the bass was too high for songs like "For the Love of God" and "Tender Surrender." So far, the only best distortions I see in this system are MetalWRLD and ExtremeDS (which I use most of the time).
For the noise gate, I'd recommend using a standard Noise Gate (or a standard Dirty Gate if you're using Fuzz). I've once tried the Zoom's ZNR system when I first bought the product, and I wasn't quite impressed with it as it didn't block out all of the feedback from the overdriven gain sounds. However, if ZNR is working well for you, by all means, go ahead.
Another thing I'd like to congratulate Zoom for is their Pitch Shifter. I love how they set up the system so that it can drop-tune my entire guitar from a standard E tuning to even the lowest of the octaves while still retaining their polyphonic programming, allowing me to play chords even in a half-step down tuning patch. The only issue I see here is that they've somehow programmed it to be in the Modulation section and not the EFX section, as what I've noticed is that as I go into baritone tunings (B standard and lower), the distortion sounds seemed to get a lot muddier with each semitone I go down. A quick fix to this I found is to use the drop-tune system in conjunction with my amp's on-board INSANE distortion setting, so that my guitar will still retain its clarity even when I'm playing my favorite Dream Theater songs, such as "Panic Attack." Still, I love how they set things up so that I don't need to buy a Digitech Whammy DT for drop-tunes.
All in all, when it comes to sound, Zoom products will work well on par with genuine effect pedals. I loved their heavy distortions, polyphonic pitch-shifting system, and their smooth modulated sound. I would like to give the rating a 9 because although there are minor disadvantages when it comes to light overdrives and non-modulated clean sounds, I have found a way to work around the problems and set up a vast set of patches that would be useful for my playing style.
Reliability & Durability — 7
I have been using the Zoom G.1Nu for a year and a half now, and it was all working well until the PARM 2 encoder stopped functioning, causing sudden tempo skips whenever I wanted to change the tempo of my delay effects and/or drum machines. It is made of metal chassis, so the internal parts will, at the very least, not easily get damaged compared to the unit's predecessors (e.g. Zoom G2); however, I advise that you take EXTRA CARE when gigging with it as the encoders will give up on you after a given amount of time when you step on the pedals often. I did use it live once back in one of my past school concerts, and it did work well without fail. The switching buttons and the expression pedal were built to last, and the internal parts are well protected. This unit can be used without a backup if you are careful with it. The finish is made well, although it is not on par with BOSS' GT and ME systems. When it comes to recording and studio, this unit is well-constructed. I am rating this a 7 because I do not like the idea that you have to use extra caution to avoid damage when it comes to gigging, although you can use this system without a backup.
Overall Impression — 8
All in all, this unit will work fairly well no matter what music genre you play. I mostly play heavy metal and progressive rock (mainly Dream Theater, Galneryus, and Metallica), and this multi-effects processor has provided me with lots of distortions and modulations to play around with. Compared with a Boss ME-25, as well as this unit's predecessor, Zoom G2, the G2.1Nu provides a lot more when it comes to defined sound, reduced latency in patch switching, drum machine, and its user-friendly nature; however, once I get more money, I am planning to go for BOSS' GT or ME multi-effects processor as they have better equipment than Zoom G2.1Nu. If it was lost or stolen, I'd probably go for an upgrade to a BOSS system as they have superior quality, sound, and construction. Otherwise, this Zoom G2.1Nu will do the job for amateurs like me. I am rating this an 8 based on the review I've done on this product. If you plan on buying this in the future, I wish you the best of luck.