Price paid: $ 197
Purchased from: Crisp Deals
Sound — 9
This thing is amazing sounding. I use this with a Washburn Vidicator with Egnater pickups through 2 150w PA speakers and it sounds insane. I generally use hi gain amp models and I really like the Deizel, Dual Rectifier, 5150 and Z Stack sounds. The Acoustic sim is pretty sweet. You have more control over positioning with the cabinet sim mics, I always wanted that with the Line 6 stuff. Compressors are key with your hi gain sounds. The air effect can help put that icing on the cake as well. ZNR noise gate is the only noise gate you will ever need. I use mine at full threshold on a couple patches and it still sustains for days without affecting the natural sound. The stomp distortions are kinda meh because you can't use them with whatever amp you want. Wahs missing a little something but still usable. Patch switching time is lightning fast and no audio gap. USB interfacing works great. Sonically impressive. Massive amounts of depth I've just never had with other modeling units. Tube distortion sounds are much more authentic and the effects as a whole sound better and are more usable than other modelers. I give it a 9, would have been a 10 if I could use whatever distortion pedal with whatever preamp model I wanted though.
Overall Impression — 9
I like a little everything for music, but my roots are in metal, but if you can't get a sound you like out of this for any type of music you have unreal expectations of tone. You will never get your guitar sound to sound just like the guy on your favorite cd. That is layered and processed to beat hell these days thus pretty much impossible to get with a single guitar signal. Now, when you start to turn this puppy up and jam loud, its got your back for that. When you need to plug in at 4am and record an idea before it slips away without waking anybody up, its got you there too. Once you start layering up your tracks and have all your mastering done, you will be amazed what your end product sounds like. I've tried a countless list of modelers in my day (this is my 8th one now) from DigiTech to Boss to Line 6 and Zoom is by far the best quality for the money. This is less than half the cost of the X3Live, true you are missing a few options still, but after owning both I would stronly urge you to get this one if your debating between the two. I find myself actually playing a lot more than tweaking my tone with Zoom stuff. I think 9 sounds like a good overall average, theres a few things I would change (I really wish it had XLR outputs, the distortion pedal to amp issue, simple changes to how the wahs are incorportated but other than that it is the last multi you should ever need to buy.
Reliability & Durability — 10
Full metal chassis means built like a freaking tank. I've heard of older versions having faulty foot switches after a while, but I have heard this is no longer an issue with the more recently built models. Eventually you'll have to replace the tube and when that day finally comes that is very easy to do yourself. I have never had a problem with any Zoom product ever. Therefore I give them a 10.
Ease of Use — 7
Overall setup is easy. It isnt hard to get a good usable sound out of this. The interface is a bit different if you haven't used Zoom stuff before but doesn't take all that long to get used to even if you haven't. Keep the manual within reach for the first day just in case but I have fair you could figure it out. Very easy to get a good sound out of. I'll give it a 7 because a noob to the modeling world will probably struggle a little with it at first.