Accurate models, very low noise, very deep editing
I must thank Brian L. of Sweetwater for bringing this mine of ZOOM peddles to my attention. He listened to my "wish list" and recommended this. I could not be happy with his suggestion!
First off, the amp models are very accurate. All the processing power in the world means nothing if the modeling isn't right. Throughout my 45 year career, I've owned and used most of the major brands: Marshal, Hiwatt, Fender, Orange... in fact it would be easier to list the only two amps in here I have not owned: Two Rock and Carr.
From that experience I can say with confidence these are the best models I have played so far, and that includes the very fine (original) roland GP100, Digitech and Line 6 stuff.
The other sonic quality difference I notice is how amazingly quiet this thing is. My rig is now close to perfectly noise free!
The dynamic range is splendid. You can use your guitar's volume controls and dynamic picking to musical effect with this, just as you would with any real amp.
The list of effects is incredible, especially at this price. Choruses are lush, clear and musically useful. Reverbs compare favorably with Lexicon and TC algorithms.
If you are a distortion-crazed metal head... this is the box for you!
I tend to use only "natural" sounding amp distortions, but this is loaded with uber-brutal mammal-stunning madness if you want it.
Along with that metal madness, ZOOM provides their admirable noise-reduction, which is fully adjustable. That's crucial for high-gain sounds. The ZOOM noise-reduction is very good, on par with Decimator products. Obviously, the ZOOM noise reduction does not have all the features of Decimator reduction, but in an enclosed system like this, that's OK.
Even though I'm an old fart and spiritually opposed to technology, I was able to navigate this thing and find a few great sounds within minutes. Then I read the manual.
After a day or two, I loaded the software into a laptop and hooked it up to this, WOW. If you are familiar with the line 6 editing software sweet of "amp farm" then you will immediately see how easy this is.
Even the looper is intuitive. That is crucial for me since I make countless practice loops for students. I don't have time to read manuals or remember arcane complex menus. This thing is simple: Press and hold to engage. Press to start, press to stop, press to overdub. That's it. It is as simple as the TC ditto 2.
A unique feature I have not seen on ANY other pedal: you can use different sound when looping. In other words, you can let the loop play, press one button to change sound, go back to the looper and over-dub with that new sound all in real-time.
I only have ONE major criticism of this design. Although it has stereo 1/4" outs ( which is absolutely essential for stereo effects) they only provide ONE XLR line output. That's a dumb mistake. It would not cost much to add another balanced line out. Seeing as how they give you so much with this pedal though, I can see how they wanted to cut costs here and there.
One place they did not cut costs is in the construction. The case is metal and the switches are sturdy. I will avoid stepping on the control knobs though since that looks like the only weak point. Even the two-way Z-pedal feels very solid.
If you absolutely need balanced stereo line out, then get the Digitech RP series or their GSP rack-mount. I have those and they are great.
But if you are satisfied running 1/4" unbalanced cables into guitar amps, this is the best thing I've tried... and you can believe I've tried them all. At this price, it is an incredible bargain. The Line 6 and Roland stuff is good too, but twice the price. This sounds and "feels" more realistic than other digital modelers at nearly half the price. Factor that into your considerations.