Today we check out THE TWO BEST reviewed guitar processors. Both come with multiple amps, and effects. Both are priced under $150. But which one will be crowned the winner? Two may enter, but only one will leave!
MOOER VS Zoom: Let The Fight Begin…
Guitar processors have came a long way in the past 10 years. even the less pricey ones. Line 6 revolutionized the idea of portable guitar processors in 1999, with their famous POD system. Looking back now, those were not the greatest, but just like the evolution of the guitar, the guitar processor has been refined over the years.
There are plenty of processors with state of the art sounds out there like the AxeFX and the Line 6 Helix. The problem is that these come at at steep price, starting at over $1000 for the base models. These work great for the professional musician, but what about the beginner? The hobbyist?
Modeling technology has come such a long way in recent years that we are seeing more and more guitarists give them a chance. The stigma seems to be almost non-existent in the present day guitar community.
The fact that both of these units come in at under $150 is amazing. The on-paper specs read like a guitarist’s dream, with a price anyone can afford. But what about the quality?
I suppose we should start this shoot-out with the specs and features of both units and a summary of what both of them are capable of. Then we will compare the units in 5 different categories:
- Amp Sim Quality
- Effects Quality
- Ease of Use
- Construction/ Build Quality
Which portable effects behemoth do you think will win? Mooer, the newcomer? Or the best-selling Zoom?
The MOOER GE150: Overview
Mooer hasn’t been in the game very long at all. Only in the past few years have I seen the name mentioned on guitar forums and reviews. Mooer got it’s start making affordable guitar pedals that are a kind of “clone” of more expensive or rare devices.
About 2 years ago MOOER started releasing these compact all-in-one units, to mostly favorable reviews. Most people couldn’t believe the value versus the price tag. Even Ola Englund was impressed by MOOER!
The MOOER G150 is the newer, most affordable unit currently offered by the company. The full range of effects units include a huge flagship model that still falls in at just under $1000. This is a bargain compared the industry giants like Line 6 Helix, or Kemper.
So what does MOOER offer for such a low price? Let’s take a look at the specs and features.
Features Of The MOOER GE150
MOOER managed to pack quite a bit of features into a small package. In fact, many of the features are ones that you would usually only find in a much more expensive unit.
- 55 Amp Models (Based on popular brands)
- 151 Effects
- 200 User programmable patches
- Full color screen
- 80 Second looper/recorder
- 40 Built in drum patterns
- Tap tempo for delay effects
- Expression/Wah pedal
- Updatable software (Usb Connect)
- 26 User spots for cabinet IR (Impulse Response)
- Practice metronome
- AUX in port
- Headphone Jack
- Metal chassis construction
The MOOER comes with everything you need right out of the box to get rocking. I tried out the presets that come factory installed. Since factory presets are generally notorious for being awful with any unit, I was surprised to find that they are not bad at all. But if you tweak them a little, and experiment with the settings, you can get a killer tone quickly.
Usually only found in the more expensive processors, this unit can act as a recording interface. This means you can use the USB port into your computer to record your guitar with your favorite DAW. This is helpful for people that do not have a huge home setup for recording.
Let’s take a look at the stand-out features of the MOOER GE150 before moving on to see what the Zoom G1X has to offer:
Standout Features of The MOOER GE150: A Great Amp Collection
55 Amp Models/Sims: This is where the MOOER really shines. I found that the effects were hit or miss. But the amp models? These are great!
I was able to get a great Metal tone from the Mesa Boogie setting (which is not called the Mesa setting, because of trademark laws) and the Orange Rockerverb setting is great for the basic crunch tone.
The Interface: While you can easily hook the MOOER up to your computer and edit the patches via USB, much like the BOSS Katana and Line 6 products, I found it easier to use the controls on the front of the device than the software.
You can do anything but deep edit the amp models from the front faced controls. You can add effects, pedals, and change the amp setting… all with the dial controls. All of this is easy to see on the color LCD screen.
You can also decide what you want the expression pedal to do. You can set it to be a volume pedal, expression, or you can set it to several wah-wah settings. This is all visually represented on the screen.
The Looper: Look, I have a single dedicated pedal that does looping worse than the MOOER, and it was more expensive than the MOOER. I was more than surprised with the time limit on the MOOER looper.
You have 80 seconds to build sounds with the looper. I found myself turning on the built in drum machine, and then looping a riff. Once you have the loop going, you can practice solos over the loop. You can also change amp settings in between looper layers.
Construction: The MOOER is made out of metal, which is a feature that usually on comes with more expensive units. I wouldn’t say that the MOOER is “road worthy”. But it can probably do local gigs well, and take a bit of a beating!
The MOOER GE150 certainly has a lot going for it. But now we are going to take a look at the Zoom A1X Four.
Zoom G1X Four: Overview
Zoom has been making affordable multi-FX units for about two decades now. Even their big flagship models are very easy on your wallet. The G1X is their most compact full-featured model and is an update from the original G-series,
These Zoom pedals for years were in direct competition with Line 6 when it came to making small, easy to use, guitar processors. Though Zoom never claimed the throne, often being overshadowed by Line 6 even though Zoom offered comparable features.
From checking out the effects and amp choices listed on the specs, it seems like the Zoom can cover a lot of ground…
Features of The Zoom G1X:
The Zoom G1X Four comes packed with tons of effects and amp simulators. Lets check out what it has to offer:
- 80 different effects
- 5 effects can be used at the same time
- Zoom Guitar Lab software compatible
- 50 User patches/presets
- 30 Second looper
- Expression/Wah pedal
- Over 60 drum patterns and settings
- Headphone jack
- Battery powered, by 6 AA batteries
- Chromatic tuner for standard, drop, and open tunings
- Built in Cabinet IR technology
- Anti-feedback filter for all presets
- USB connectivity
While most small FX units work on amp modeling solely, with the effects being almost an afterthought, Zoom puts effects first. This means that the myriad of sounds you can get from this pedal are all high quality.
That being said, you can also mimic other instruments! The Zoom allows you to use your electric guitar to say, emulate an acoustic guitar sound. The modulation can create vibrant and full sounding tones.
The built-in drum machine section is made for practicing and designed to work with your looper. Being battery powered, this has the potential to be a perfect portable practice partner. You can take it anywhere with a pair of headphones.
Which features were the best to me?
Standout Features of The Zoom G1X: Effects For Every Guitarist
The Effects: While Zoom doesn’t really have any specific amp sims that are wow-worthy, what it does have, is effects for days. The G1X Four has reverb, delay, distortion, and all kinds of modulation effects. These all sound really pristine, using 64 bit CD sample quality.
The modulation effects sound really great for such an affordable unit. The chorus sounds lush and works in stereo. The delay effects are also stereo which makes your guitar solos sound huge. There is even a backwards delay that reverses all of your notes!
Many of the delay and echo effects can sound very ethereal. In some cases, your guitar no longer sounds like a guitar. The Zoom can turn your guitar into a huge, swelling synth sound or a low rumble of reverb tails.
The distortion can be used for anything, but it does Metal particularly well. There is even a patch called “Walk” that mimics Pantera pretty accurately. The lower gain sounds are good for a basic crunch sound or Blues lead tone. The distortion sounds less digital than Zoom’s previous efforts, definitely a step up…
The only place the effects fall flat, is the pitch modulation. The Zoom just cannot keep up with tracking the note. It works fine with some of the harmony patches, as long as you stick to single-note runs. The modulation is a “no shred zone”.
Zoom Guitar Lab: The Zoom connects to your computer with free software called the “Guitar lab”. This feature not only allows you to experiment with your own presets and tones, but also lets you download presents for any genre of music. You can also download other user’s presets and tones based on popular guitar players and songs.
The visual editor shows all of your effects for each patch that you create, and lets you set your own effects chain. All you have to do is pull an effect from a drop down menu, and add it to your patch.
You can also deep dive into your guitar preamp sounds, and change cabinet impulse responses. Unfortunately, you cannot load your own IR into the unit. But the ones it comes with stock, sound passable at the very least.
DI Interface: The Zoom G1X works really well as a direct box into your computer interface. This is where you will need those cabinet IR functions. It simulates the amp really well and works great as a desktop unit for your home studio.
It is unfortunate that you cannot load your own impulse responses into the unit. I have quite a collection that I often use with amp simulators, and it was a bummer that you are limited to the stock IR. Still, the Zoom has all you need to be a recording tool plugged into your interface.
This is cool, but what if you want to use it in a live setting?
If you want to use the Zoom A1X as an “effects only” option, you’re in luck. The Zoom’s cabinet IR can be turned off with a press of a button. This allows you to use the Zoom G1X Four into your favorite guitar amp either through the effects loop, or in front of the amp.
Blending the Zoom’s effects with your amp’s natural tones is pretty easy. If your amp is stereo, the delay effects sound almost three dimensional.
Drum Machine: When these compact processors say they have a drum machine built in, I usually expect the worst. I expect a corny, 80’s inspired mess that ends up being unusable. I was pleasantly surprised to find out the Zoom has a great sounding drum machine.
The drum samples are different based on which genre you choose. I liked the ‘Rock” drums for their huge sound and touch of reverb. It was easy to start jamming along right away. There is also a built-in metronome that you can toggle on and off.
Don’t get me wrong, the Zoom G1X isn’t going to replace your drummer or anything (too bad). But it sounded great through my computer interface as a tool to jam with, or loop a riff over.
It sounds like Zoom really killed it with design and features, but Mooer has it’s own advantages. Let the games begin!
Round 1: Amp Simulation Quality
Sorry Zoom, you lost this one. In a bad way…
The MOOER amp sims are not only good quality, but very convincing even to the most discerning ears. I was completely blown away by all of MOOER’s amp models.
Sure, there are a few that seem superfluous and redundant. But the sounds that mattered, Mooer positively nailed. Especially the high gain sounds like a 5150, Mesa, Marshall, or Bogner. There is simply no comparison to the Zoom.
The fact that you can load your own cabinet IR, and do deep edits of the most popular amps puts MOOER in a league of their own. Zoom may have some good distortion tones, but you cannot customize them.
Round 2: Effects Quality
Zoom takes the cake when it comes to effects quality. Hands down!
While MOOER has passable effects and useable reverbs, Zoom blows it out of the water with quality. The stereo delay and reverb effects that Zoom has perfected over the years is the clear winner in this category.
Some of the effect presets that Zoom has in the unit sound other-worldly and transform your guitar into an entirely different instrument. Add to that the drum machine quality, and looper potential and you have a recipe for endless jam sessions.
You can literally become a one man band and work on your ideas with quality sounds. MOOER is good, and actually has a longer time span for your looper. But the effects fall short compared to the high quality of Zoom.
Round 3: Ease of Use
I had a tough time deciding the winner on this one! Both units are easy to program and access all of the sounds. They both have a screen with a visual editor. They both have the same preset layout and button functions.
But MOOER is just a little bit better when it comes to ease of use.
The front panel controls are more intuitive than the Zoom making it easier to edit your presets on the fly. Zoom may have their Guitar lab software you can use to edit your sound, but MOOER doesn’t require software to do pretty deep editing.
With just the front panel controls, you can change the MOOER’s signal chain, edit each effect, and even change what the expression pedal does. All of this is achieved by the press of a few buttons.
MOOER doesn’t have a sound library like Zoom does to download patches, but I don’t think it really needs it. Everything is already dialed in well…you just have to tweak it to your liking.
Round 4: Construction/Build Quality
MOOER is going to take this one again!
The Zoom G1X Four is made out of plastic. While the construction feels sturdy, you cannot compare to MOOER’s beautiful brushed steel faceplate and metal buttons.
Zoom is known to make most of their affordable units out of ABS plastic. For some people, this makes Zoom hard to take seriously as it feels like a very expensive toy in the hands.
The Zoom is great for home use, but I am not sure that I would take it to a gig, or add it to my pedalboard. The last thing you need in the middle of a killer solo is your pedal to break.
The MOOER is made of lightweight metal, but feels pretty substantial. The metal buttons are the same that you would find on any regular guitar pedal and they are meant for stomping on. Both buttons have a satisfying click to them.
I feel like you can kick the MOOER around and it will take the abuse. For that reason, it gets the point for this round.
Round 5: Portability
Both units have a small physical footprint and could easily be put in your bag for on-the-go playing. Each unit is lightweight and compact. Both processors could easily fit in a small backpack or gig bag.
But Zoom has a trick up their sleeve for this round.
The Zoom G1X Four is battery powered.
The Zoom can literally go anywhere and be used as a practice tool. All you need is a pair of headphones. The built in drum machine and looper allow you to take a whole band around wherever you want to go.
The batteries will get you about 18-20 hours of play time if you keep the backlight off. Sure, you can use an AC adapter with it…if you want. But using batteries make the Zoom more portable by a long shot.
The Winner: MOOER GE150!
I honestly cannot believe the quality of both units since they come with such a budget-friendly price. For hardly any money, you can be making some cool sounds. Which one you choose will be up to which features you prefer.
Will either compete the Line 6 Helix? A Headrush Pedalboard? AxeFX?
No way. Not a chance.
But every guitarist doesn’t need a Helix. Especially if you just record at home, or you need something to practice with quietly. Neither the Zoom nor the MOOER is overly complicated to use. They both pack a lot of punch for a seemingly “budget” piece of gear.
I can whole-heartedly recommend both units to guitarists of any experience level. I mean, I would totally use these in the studio for getting different tones that my amps usually couldn’t achieve.
We are living in the true “Golden Age” of guitar! Gear and guitars have never been more affordable with outstanding quality. Pair one of these units with one of our picks for beginners, and you’ll be rocking in no time.
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