You can usually rely on Zoom to release products that offer practical functionality and an impressive roster of features for a bargain price.
Even by its own standards, however, the B3N Bass Multi-Effects Processor seems like amazing value for money. Our first impressions are certainly good; the unit’s pressed steel chassis and base plate feel as if they’ll stand up to a good deal of use and abuse, and even the plastics used for the sides, controls and footswitches feel solid. On the back panel, the input and stereo outs are 1⁄4” jacks, as is the controller input. There’s a useful mini-jack input for jamming along to tracks from your phone, and a USB port allows you to connect to your computer.
This enables you to download further amp and cab simulations and extra effects using Zoom’s free Guitar Lab software.
Plugged in and wired up, the Zoom B3N has two operating choices, Stomp Mode and Memory Mode, which are selected using the right-hand footswitch. Each mode has patches, which are stored combinations of effects and/or amp and cab simulations. In Stomp mode, the unit works like a pedalboard. The switches allow effects to be turned on or off, and you can switch between effect types, or turn effects on and off within patches.
Each of the footswitches has three effects, Dynamics, Filter and Drive, from which you can choose individual sub-effects using the Type up and down buttons below each display. You can then adjust the various parameters of the chosen effect using the four rotary controls. The unit allows you to combine up to seven effects in whichever order you like.
Memory mode gives you access to the stored patches, using the lower Bank and Scroll footswitches. There are a mighty 75 factory patches to choose from, which you can edit, or you can of course create your own from scratch. As well as the effects and amp/cab simulations, you also have an 80-second looper function, 68 built-in rhythms to jam along with, and an on-board tuner.
If this sounds a bit complicated, that’s because it is - at first. However, it’s logical to use and you’ll soon get used to the quick access to the huge range of sounds and functions. While the effects and amp simulations sound a little more ‘digital’ than rack effects or boutique stompboxes when heard through headphones or studio monitors, for everyday gigging or rehearsing, the sound is impressive. We had to keep reminding ourselves that all this stuff was available for well under two hundred quid.
For bassists who don’t want to carry a full pedalboard or who are on a tight budget, the B3N is a simple, easy solution that won’t break the bank. Recommended.