Price paid: $ 399
Purchased from: ProSound in Colorado Springs
Sound — 9
I use an Ibanez S520 guitar plugged into a portable Yamaha mixer and then into my computer. I mainly play at home writing and recording. For Live use, I'll play this through a Marshall MG250DFX, but I'll connect the G9 to the left and right Return inputs on the back. So the amp is pretty much just loud box. The G9 is pretty quiet except when using patches with lots of gain. But that's to be expected from anything with lots of gain. Effects are good. I upgraded to the G9 from a Boss GT-3 which had wonderful effects. But I don't get crazy with effects, and the G9 does a good enough job. As I stated, I mainly plug the G9 into my mixer then into my computer. I like the fact there 10 banks to be used for "direct" play into a mixer and another 10 banks for "live" use. I was hoping I could edit a patch for "direct" use at home, then just turn off the cabinet simulator and save the patch in the equivalent "live" patch area. Depending on the sound, you may need to adjust the preamp settings a bit between the "direct" and "live" patches to make them sound the same.
Overall Impression — 9
I play melodic rock. I've setup my own patches to give me some clean, blues, and rock sounds. I'm not into metal, but there are some awesome metal sounds here. I've been playing for 20 years. Sold my old Boss GT-3 and upgraded to this. Definately a step in the right direction. If I lost this thing, I'd probaby buy it again. For the features and prices, it's awesome! What I love: I love the sounds, the sexy look, the price. What I don't love: It's kinda big, so I'm having a hard time finding a case for it. Editing patches from the computer could be improved. There is no digital out on this! The USB audio port is only 16bit. If it was 24 bit, I wouldn't care so much for the lack of digital out. So I'm better off just recording this using the audio out ports into my M-Audio 2496 sound card which supports 24bit audio. I was looking at the Boss GT-8, Line6 X3 Live, and the Vox Tonelab LE. Listened to the GT-8, but I didn't really hear a lot of difference from my Boss GT-3. I'm sure the quality of the sounds is better, and I did like the dual preamp feature. I really considered the X3 Live, but read so many negative reviews about the construction of the unit and so many firmware issues. So I stayed away. I almost bought the Tonelab LE. I really believe having a tube warms the sound up, which is what I like. But then I found the Zoom locally and had to buy it. For the price, features, and quality, this unit is wonderful!
Reliability & Durability — 9
Looks like it was build very good. Seems to be solid and durable. Everything seems to be metal. I can't afford a backup, so I won't be using one. I'm not worried about it though. I've emailed Zoom in Japan and Samson in the USA (the Zoom distributer here) asking some presales questions. The Samson rep emailed a reply the same day. And a reply from Japan took a few days. Both answered my questions. I even spoke with the Samson rep Who was very helpful and courteous.
Ease of Use — 8
Stock sounds are ok. I don't know why they made so many factory sounds with crazy effects. I really just wanted to have lots of great sounds I could tweak just a bit for my own use. Anyway, I created my own sounds using the software editor and a MIDI connection. Editing patches is good, but not great. There is a USB port on the back, but it's only for using this unit for recording. I don't know why they couldn't use this port for editing the patches. Anyway, you need both the MIDI In and Out ports connected to your computer to utilize all editing features. Once I installed the softare, it took about an hour for me to figure it out. To write save changes on the G9, you have to send all data to it. You cannot edit one patch at a time, but it only stays in the computer until you "send all" to the G9. Not the greatest, but it sure beats editing on the G9 directly. Manual is good. I've had to refer to it several times and found my answer each time. Firmware was 1.07 and 1.08 was posted on their website. So I attempted to install it from Windows Vista. During the firmware update, it errored out. When I powered on the G9, it was dead. I had power, nothing else happened. I tried several times but got the same error. I dual boot my computer between XP and Vista, so I gave it a try from XP. Same error. However, my XP installation didn't have .NET 1.1 installed (which I thought it did), and this is a requirement for the updater. So I installed .NET 1.1 and installed it under XP. The update worked just fine, and the G9 started working again.