Saturday, February 15, 2020

Review: Zoom 505

Hello and welcome to this week's article!
Today we go on with our legacy gear of my upbringing, and I couldn't skip a compact multi effect which has been the entry level of basically every single guitar student in the '90s: the legendary Zoom 505!

The Zoom 505 was the smallest, least expensive multi effect in the market in the mid '90s, when I started learning how to play, and usually all the kids buying a guitar were also buying a cheap combo and this unit to add some colour to their tone palette: needless to say, it was one of these tools that shortly after were parked in some shelf, replaced by better gear.

This micro multi effect had a big impact in the scene when it came out for a couple of reasons: it was working either with batteries or with the DC adaptor and it was so small to fit in any gigbag, so for many it was the first way to add some delay or reverb in their tone, plus it had many banks to store the presets, which is a good thing since the original ones were quite bad.

The Zoom 505 features only 2 switches, which means that playing live is quite hard if we want to move between presets that are not in sequence, but the Zoom engineers were clever enough to create the "direct load" mode, which allows to program two sequential patches one after the other, even if in theory they are far away in the patch list.

The sound... Wasn't the best: we're talking about an era before the POD, in which digital processors were considered basically toys, because their preamps couldn't replicate decently the sound of a real amp: the tone was thin, glassy, and the distortions were like nails on a blackboard.
On the other hand this unit was doing a decent job with the effects, so many guitarists were using it just for the effects part, using the preamp of a real amp and obtaining listenable results, plus it had several creative effects which were not common in multi effects back then, like octave, fade-in volume, and some sort of arpeggiator.

It's worth also mentioning that few year later, a version 2.0 was released (Zoom 505 II), with a new chassis and more sounds, but this first one remains in our hearts as the archetype of the beginner guitarist multieffect.

Thumbs down for the sound, up for the memory!


- 24 user editable presets

- Compressor, limiter, auto wah

- Acoustic, Rhythm, Overdrive, Distortion, blues, fuzz, lead, and metal distortion settings

- Zoom Noise Reduction

- EQ (4 band) phaser

- Chorus, Flanger, Doubler, Stepper (auto appregio), Pitch shifter

- Delay, Hall, And room reverbs.

- Optional expression pedal and bank switch

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