Zoom MS-100BT Review
Original Author: Taka Perry
Weapon: Multi-FX Pedal
Model: Zoom MS-100BT
Price Paid:¥ 12,000
- Small footprint multi-FX pedal (just a tad bigger than a Boss Stompbox)
- Features 92 stompbox effects and 8 amp models
- Optional StompShare iOS app for downloading more models and updating firmware
I am using this pedal with a custom guitar fitted with Tesla VR-Nitro Humbuckers, and running it through a Vox Mini-3, on the BTQ Clean setting with all knobs neutral. The sound is great, provided that you play around with the settings a bit. On high-gain, there is a bit of noise, but this can be tackled easily with a noise gate.
The first category, Dynamics & Filter have a bunch of different effects ranging from a simulation of an MXR Dyna Comp to a Moog LPF. All of these are quite useful, and sound pretty good. The noise reduction pedal (ZNR) is very impressive, allowing noise to be cut off without having guitar sound cut off during sustains.
The next category, Overdrive & Distorion, has a pretty extensive list of different distortions. There are multiple overdrives, distortions and fuzzes. They all sound different, and some will introduce noise, but as stated before, can be tackled with a simple noise gate. One of my favourites is the MetalWRLD (simulation of Boss Metal Zone), which is very usable for that Joe Satriani lead tone.
The modulations (MOD/SFX) are very extensive and I think are the strongest point of the unit. There are some really crazy effects in here that will really get you thinking creatively, including a harmoniser, bit-crusher, and a scale pitch shifter. You can really go crazy with these, as long as you remember that the unit can only handle up to 6 simultaneous effects.
The last section, Delay & Reverb, holds a significant amount of different effects. There's a tape echo, reverse delay, stereo delay, among many others. There are 9 reverbs which all sound surprisingly good, considering that they're digitally emulated.
The amp simulations are the weakest point of this unit, especially the DZ Drive and ALIEN. As the gain is increased, there is a high-pitch noise, which has been noticed by others across several forums. This makes these almost unusable, but hopefully a firmware update will be release in the future to fix this. The other ones are okay, but nothing special. Besides, I have an amp for a reason!
The patches are a bit of a hit-and-miss. Some will sound great, and others will require extensive editing to sound good. You can use it as an effect chain, or just use it as one pedal in your existing rig. Editing is easy once you learn to get around the device, but as the MS-100BT only has 3 knobs and 3 buttons, it is a bit more troublesome than other Multi-FX pedals like the Boss ME-70 or Zoom G3. However, that is not to say that the sound quality is inferior, or that it is capable of less.
There are two manuals online; one for using the device, and another for explaining what different effects and parameters do. Both manuals are easy to follow, and very useful. The device can also connect to iOS devices via Bluetooth, which is required to upgrade the firmware and to purchase additional effects and amp simulations. This is a real disadvantage for those who don't have an iOS device. However, the process of connecting the pedal was very simple and easy to do.
The unit is made out of solid anodised aluminium, so it quite durable. The knobs are plastic, but the buttons and footswitch is metal, so overall I think that the unit is built quite well. Although the pedal is built well, depending on the amount of effects you use live, it may prove unsuitable for live use. However, there is an option to make the footswitch cycle through patches, which is a nice touch. Because I don't find myself turning multiple effects on and off throughout a song, I would use it live at gigs without a backup.
Because I play a wide range of music, this pedal is great for me. I can get a nice Nirvana sound, or a Steve Vai sound, or a Rodrigo y Gabriela sound, or basically any guitar sound after a bit of tweaking. Also, as I don't own a massive amount of pedals, this pedal is kind of what I'll depend on for practising and performing. I'm a 14-year-old self taught-guitarist and have been playing for 3.5 years. If it were lost or stolen, I think that I'd get another one.
I love the simplicity and the no-frills aspect of this device. I can literally plug in, and switch to my favourite patch and jam away! Sometimes I wish that the pedal had an extra footswitch, or an expression pedal. However, I understand that the pedal is made to be simple, and it executes that amazingly. My favourite feature is the simplicity of the unit, and the large (100) amount of effects that it has.
Overall, if you are looking for a simple Multi-FX pedal that gets the job done easily, I'd really recommend the Zoom MS-100BT. You can tweak it a lot and get a lot of different, diverse sounds. If you don't own an iOS device, I'd think twice before purchasing it, but even without an iOS device, you can get a lot out of this little unit. Here's hoping that Zoom will release a firmware update to fix the high-pitch noise in the amp simulators.