Those of us who like pouring a little effected sauce over our bass sound have just been given the opportunity to do this some more courtesy of those Zoom people and their new B3 multi-FX and amp modelling unit.
The B3 is a fairly rugged floor unit that measures 234mm wide, 54mm high and 70mm deep and weighs 1.14kg/2.54lbs. You’ll find your input and output jack sockets, balanced DI XLR socket and USB socket on the back, but the face is where the action is. Here you’ll find three stomp switches with LED screens, three black dials and three black ‘keys’ each, plus a secondary line of mini keys above.
In technological terms, Zoom have employed their new ZFX-IV DSP effects processor which uses 32-bit floating-point processing to produce the simulations – three of which, whether a combination of modelled amp and effect or just effects, can be employed simultaneously. There are 12 amp models, including Ampeg SVT, Markbass Little Mark III and SWR SM-900, and 99 FX and DI patches (that’s not 99 different effects– many are just different varieties of, say, distortion or reverb, and there are some combinations).
Add to this a looper with up to 40 seconds capacity, a tuner, a simple drum machine and PC/Mac interface via USB for free online access to editing and downloading of patches, and you’ve got an unbelievable amount of stuff crammed into this small box, which runs on batteries or via the supplied PSU or the USB socket.
The B3 is pretty easy to get to grips with. There are 100 patches in 10 banks which, when in patch mode, can be selected by hitting the stomp switches; you edit sounds via the orange LED screens and controls and keys. There’s plenty of info in the manual or online via a free download from the Zoom website.
The B3 contains some redundant and impractical effects but also plenty of good stuff. There are six compressors/limiters; our favourite is the optical OptComp. The 11 overdrives/distortions are of varying degrees of nastiness, all of which feature a handy wet/dry blend function.
You also get EQs, wahs, modulation filters, preamps, tremolo and vibrato, phasers, flangers and choruses, octave, pitch shift and synth effects, the latter featuring the excellent ’70s-tastic Z-Syn. The looper is easy to set up, and has a tap tempo; it does take a little time to get used to recording layers on the fly, but patience and perseverance are ultimately rewarded.
If you’re in the market for a multi-FX unit, whether for live work or home
recording, the B3 is a serious option. This little box is stuffed full of effects, many of practical value; the selection ofsimulated amps offers a decent cross-section, and the looper is a lot of fun when you get to grips with its idiosyncrasies. To top it all, the B3 is stunning value for money.