The MS-100BT MultiStomp, with the StompShare app.
THE MS-100BT multieffects pedal has several features that stand out. First, it can load new effects and amps from an iOS app called StompShare; prices range from $0.99 for effects to $1.99 for amps—very reasonable. Zoom circumvents the 30-pin/Lightning issue by nuking the cable entirely, and using Bluetooth to transfer patches from your iOS device to the MultiStomp (it’s fast, too). Second, it offers true multieffects—buying an amp or effect adds it to the roster of 100 processors (92 effects and eight amps), which you can store as effects chains in 50 presets.
One of StompShare’s best features is that in addition to audio demos, you can load an effect into the MS-100BT and play through it for 15 minutes (and you’re not limited to one trial period). What’s more, all parameters are editable via the MS-100BT’s hardware controls, so you can really explore the possibilities. You can also insert the effect into a patch with other effects to check it out in context.
Onboard Effects The MS-100BT has quite a selection, including “out there” effects like a bit crusher, ring modulator, and several synthesizer-type options. Although I often find these kinds of sounds to be clever but not useful, some of them are definite keepers. It also has the expected collection of dynamics, EQ, time-based, and modulation effects. You can load up to six effects, within limits of the available DSP; I found it very difficult to run out of DSP power.
The amps are good, but others who are as picky as I am will appreciate the multiple pages of tweakable parameters—you can even mix and match amps and cabinets. One cool studio trick is to turn off the cab and use an amp sim’s cab to create a variety of flavors. My favorite amps were the optional-at-extra-cost ones; I particularly liked the Tone City, Match 30, and MS Crunch amps, with the Centagold overdrive providing a great complement to any of them. Basically, for $6.96 I got the amp sounds I wanted and more . . . that’s a helluva deal.
Painless Interface For tabletop programming, the combination of three push-pots and multiple pages make it virtually painless to navigate around, despite the flexibility. However, for live use there’s no random access, or MIDI footswitch compatibility; you program a “playlist” of effects, and step through them to get from preset to preset. For a half-dozen presets, this is doable but too many more, and you’ll be tap dancing. (Hey Zoom—how about an iPad app for preset random access?)
Beyond Guitar Even without Bluetooth and the StompShare app, the MS-100BT is packed with useful effects, yet its size would let it slide right into a pedalboard. It’s mercifully easy to tweak and adapt presets for feeding an amp or going direct into a mixer. We’ll see what optional effects appear in the future, but the 22 existing effects are off to a fine start—and the overall sound quality is a step up from previous Zoom products. This level of functionality at this price, with these kinds of sounds, is very hard to beat—and good for a more than just guitar.
STRENGTHS: Creative effects, and plenty of them. Bluetooth connection for loading and trying new effects from StompShare. Very easy to tweak. Tap tempo. Extremely compact.
LIMITATIONS: The app store amps sound better to me than the built-in ones. Impractical to access lots of different patches live.