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Zoom G2.1Nu ($200 street)

7/1/2010

Zoom_1_option1The G2.1Nu is compact, but manages to fit a small expression pedal, LCD, and multiple knobs and buttons in a metal case. For easy computer-based editing, use the free Edit & Share software.

What: The G2.1Nu isn’t the first floor effects pedal with a USB interface (including an output that can drive headphones). However, it’s the “poster boy” for a new generation of the genre.

Why: The 96kHz internal sampling rate creates distortion with fewer audible artifacts than systems using lower sampling rates. But it also does computer integration really well, with 32- and 64-bit ASIO drivers for XP/Vista/7, as well as cross-platform, free “Edit and Share” librarian software for painless patch editing, saving, and sharing.

Installation: While the G2.1Nu is class-compliant, the ASIO drivers give lower latency with Windows. USB can also bus-power the unit (which for stage use can run on batteries or an optional AC adapter). Edit & Share is easy to install.

Learning curve: In addition to an effects selector for editing, the G2.1Nu includes three knobs, whose functions vary depending on the effect being controlled. These mimic the limited knob set included with typical stomp boxes, providing a familiar environment. The LCD is a huge improvement over the two-digit display in the G2.1u; front-panel editing is actually quite easy once you’ve read the manual, but Edit & Share definitely represents the easiest way to edit.

Best bits: The “next-generation” aspect is for real. Patches change in 5ms—when you hit the footswitch, the patch changes now (and there are 100 factory/100 user presets). The unit is also surprisingly quiet, in large part due to a relatively unobtrusive noise gate that gives smooth decays (a more traditional “choppy” gate response is also available). For extras, there’s an onboard drum machine for practicing, integrated expression pedal, looper function, and input for an optional footswitch (for tap tempo, drum machine start/stop, etc.). Finally, because you get your sound “in the box,” there’s zero monitoring latency while you record the processed sound. However, when used as an interface, you can monitor through the computer as well—great if you want to add, for example, a parametric EQ after the G2.1Nu for tonal tweaking not available in the unit itself.

Limitations: There’s no dry out for recording into a separate track should you want to re-amp. The distortion can sound “fizzy,” but editing and proper gain adjustments can help tame this, as does using post-G2.1Nu plug-ins for recording applications.

Bottom line: The G2.1Nu shows just how much $200 will buy. The metal case is a plus for the stage, and sound quality exceeds what you’d expect for the price— especially if you learn how to tweak the parameters. The free software and drivers are a nice touch that deliver on the promise of a studio-worthy device that also works well on stage. Overall, the G2.1Nu is serious value for money.

Contact: www.samsontech.com


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