New Zoom B1X Four sounds several levels of DEAD & NOISY compared to MS-60B

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by andruca, Jul 15, 2020.

  1. andruca


    Mar 31, 2004
    Madrid (Spain)
    First of all let me tell you I'm a BIG Zoom fan. I've had many of their small bass guitar pedals since the BFX-708 (then 708II, B2.1u and the MS-60B, which now coexists with a recently purchased B1X Four). After 2 months since getting my B1X Four and having extensively worked on its tweaking I'm still unable to get it to sound anywhere near as good as my MS-60B.

    In the past I used to do more effects and stuff but for the past 10 years probably I havent asked much of these gadgets, more of a fix tone kinda' role. I'm usually doing some preamping and compression, and that's it. I'm hardly ever switching patches and hardly ever using effects really, just crunch and compression. I've been successfully doing this with my MS-60B. Usually the SansAmp + 160 comp emulations deal with it, ranging from "clean" (almost) to moderately distorted (nothing extreme, still keeping the punch and lowend of the original signal).

    I've bought the B1X Four for mainly 2 reasons: the DarkGlass emulations and the (rarely useful for me) control pedal. Don't need the drums nor the looper thing (their only use for me is playing loopy songs at home for fun -"Oye cómo va", "Monkey man" or Sade's "Paradise"-).

    Now, on one hand, both my basic emulations (SansAmp, 160 Comp) just sound better on the MS-60B (plus, the 160 Comp has more parameters). On the other hand the B1X Four is both noisier and signal pushes things differently. Could this be the input sensitivity? (impedance is 1M ohm for the MS-60B and 470K ohm on the B1X Four) That "less push" reflects on the values of parameters I have to use, completely different. Also, the B1X Four sounds DULL, less punchy, with less lowend authority, opaque and sorta' boxy. Also the compression reacts differently, less tight, as if signal excited it less, for lack of a better way to explain it. The SansAmp emulation has an extra bummer, past a certain gain level it produces an unpleasant low-frequency dirt that just ruins it (doesn't happen on the MS-60B nor on real SansAmps, I know as I've owned and been extensively using an RBI since 2004).

    Regarding the DarkGlass emulations (and besides the fact that DarkGlass mid-prominent kinda' crunch might not be my thing), I don't care at all for them either. They're utterly BOXY, low EQ does nothing for it (as if tuned too high), has a terrible peak at 180hz. I've found I much prefer a more mid-intensive SansAmp tone to those DG "recreations". There's even an added turnoff to it. Many effects have lost parameters, and that includes the Para-EQ (2-band back on the MS-60B, now it's just 1). Most damaging to me, as I need 2 instances of the effect, one to tame the 180hz peak and a second one to add some 80hz centered rumble (the bass control on the DG emulation doesn't help, doesn't fatten up s**t, in the same way the treble control doesn't brighten up s**t, have it at 100 in some patches, pretty ridiculous).

    To end the mess, the B1X Four is noisier enought that I need to add ZNR to almost any patch (while I clearly got away without it on the MS-60B for the last 5 years). Now, I've learned thru' the various Zoom models I've been thru' that ZNR mostly works at intense levels (otherwise it doesn't supress much noise) and it's been consistently good to me all thru' the different models whenever I needed to use it, didn't alter sound nor output, just acted as an "intelligent" gate you can activate either with the signal it receives from prior stages in the path or by probing the input from your instrument directly. On the B1X Four, OTOH, it further dulls the tone AND notoriously reduces output.

    Does Zoom re-develop their emulations every time a new generation comes out? (and so they can screw'em up) Could it be the input sensitivity to blame? Any observation, experience or idea is welcome. Thanks in advance.
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2020
    xI Jonathan Ix likes this.
  2. Platypibri

    Platypibri Technician, Kaman Music

    Jun 28, 2005
    Riverside, CA
    I'm pretty unhappy right now. I bought a B1x Four to update my original B1X that is some 13 years old. It arrived yesterday. The octave tracks better on the original than the new one, and I did a side by side to be sure. I really only need the pedal for octave and synth bass stuff, and it doesn't seem to do those very well. I liked the software and being able to see what I was editing, but I think I'm gonna send it back.
    xI Jonathan Ix and andruca like this.
  3. andruca


    Mar 31, 2004
    Madrid (Spain)
    I've read MANY people who are happy and claim the Four defintely sounds better and effects are better too. Thus my stupefaction, given the results I'm getting.
  4. andruca


    Mar 31, 2004
    Madrid (Spain)
    Some extra data I didn't give in the starter post. I mostly use these either with a (3 coil ceramic) Stingray5 (not higher output than your typical Jazz Bass) or a Warwick Star Bass 5 (real HIGH and bassy output). I've already gone thru' the Four up and down, holds no secrets for me, same as all previous models, I'm far from a noob to Zoom. Still feel like I'm missing something.
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2020
  5. xI Jonathan Ix

    xI Jonathan Ix Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2020
    I also loved the old Zoom stuff (706II) but I returned the B1X Four pretty quickly. Amp modeling was okay, distortions were mediocre, and like @Platypibri, I was after some synth sounds and the only things I found worthwhile was maybe 2 amp model presets, a volume pedal, and literally nothing else. I also found I was having to dime (100%) some settings to even make them usuable.

    I play an active Fender P (18v) so the B1X4 had plenty of input to work with and I can’t say I had a lot of noise issues but, it just couldn’t come close to the old Zoom multis.

    Returning that led me down the rabbit hole of buying less multi, more single-use dedicated equipment. The board is growing and there’s a ton more wires but, so it goes.
    andruca likes this.
  6. andruca


    Mar 31, 2004
    Madrid (Spain)
    Not my case these days. I don't use that much effects anymore (and even back then I'd never go beyond chorus, flanger, phaser, auto wah or the occasional delay). Nowadays it's intended as my "sound in a box" I can easily carry around with me and play thru any amp. Couple presets for each of my basses and that's about it. No experience with the B1on/Xon, but I certainly haven't had a problem doing that with my 708II or my MS-60B (and the B2.1u wasn't bad at all, but IME it didn't sound as good)..
    xI Jonathan Ix likes this.
  7. woo10


    Feb 22, 2004
    Ok, here's my personal experience, bought recently from Amazon, brand new. Reason, since I play guitar like 99.9% of the time w/ AxeFX & Headrush 108 FRFR, I thought the Zoom B1X Four would be the ticket, yeah I know I could use the AxeFx but wanted to try the Zoom as it was more bass specific, also wanted something light I could use w/ batteries, or in front of the tv, etc.

    So, powered by a 9v power-upply that I use w/ other pedals w/ no issues, I tried it w/ headphones (studio monitor quality), sounded too low (vol.) and muted (blanket effect). Nothing I could do would change this, maxing out the vol. (right-most knob) resulted in farty distorted/clipping sound. Ok, forget about playing in front of the tv, how about the HeadRush 108? Exactly same experience, plus hiss noise to boot (even w/ ground button pushed, used w/ US 3-prong outlet). Tried different cables, different power cables to HeadRush speaker, nothing, same f'ing sound.

    So then I thought, let me connect the bass (Schecter CV-5, passive pickups) directly to the HeadRush, and WOW!! Bass sounded way louder, at half the volume mind you, clearer, way more articulate, even the hiss is gone. So, I am not really sure what to make of the Zoom. I had other Zoom products in the past, and they have always been good sounding. Unless someone tells me I'm doing something wrong here, I think I will be returning it.
  8. NoiseNinja

    NoiseNinja Experimental-psychedelic-ambient-noise-drone Inactive

    Feb 23, 2011
    Get the older and discontinued, but still readily available, Zoom B1Xon, and find the program hack that allows you to install any of the same generation Zoom effects on it (that is all the effect from the G1(X)on. B1(X)on, MS-50G, MS-60B and MS-70CDR).
    RickenCliff and andruca like this.
  9. Al Krow

    Al Krow

    Jan 15, 2018
    The MS-60B was a fantastic piece of kit when it first came out and was actually the first bass pedal I bought when they were released in 2013. I've had a couple over the years as well as a Zoom B3N. I now have two Zoom B1-4s: one on one of my boards and another as a standalone pedal for live use.

    With reference to the OPs comment, I do use the Zoom noise reduction as standard on a lot of my B1-4 patches which works a treat. It's available, so why not make use of it?

    The UI on the MS-60B was a PITA and the additional features on the B1-4 e.g.
    • two way scrolling;
    • better display, including LED tuner for dark stages;
    • 5 fx (vs 4) per patch;
    • 50 vs 26 total fx patches, split into 5 banks of 10 vs one bank of 26;
    Means that the B1-4 knocks the MS-60B out of the park for live use and work-flow. For home practice, the B1-4 has a drum machine and headphone amp, neither of which the MS-60B provides.

    I sold my MS-60Bs a while back and won't be getting another, much as I'm tempted to get another as a memento of my "first ever" pedal :)
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2021
    tindrum likes this.
  10. andruca


    Mar 31, 2004
    Madrid (Spain)
    Still not the point. The B1on/Xon is the same kind of interface, and sounds exactly like the MS-60B or B3 (I own both, and a G1Xon with custom firmware with all bass relevant from the B1Xon). The discussion is more about the previous generation being overall much better sounding (newer ar BOXY) and needing less ZNR (or needing it at much higher gain levels), which, combined with the para-EQ being now 1-band (when before it was 2 band -and hardly ever needed as it wasn't boxy-) makes for a noticeable increase in slot use (defeats the purpose of having more slots). I haven't recorded any A/B with the B1X Four I owned, but am asking for a friend's B1 Four soon to make an A/B video. People tend to not care, and I didn't either (don't get me wrong, can be made to sound decent with enough tweaking), until I started to copy my MS-60B patches into the B1X Four and hit that wall. Couldn't face the other way after A/Bing, its THAT noticieable. Try a B1on/Xon (same 5 slots, drum machine, sampler) side by side with your B1 Four. You'll be amazed.
    NoiseNinja likes this.
  11. I've not had any trouble with the B1 Four sounding boxy or noisy. I've actually measured the frequency response, and it is completely flat when no effects are activated, so I'm a bit puzzled as to why it would sound boxy. I like it so much that I now own both the regular and the X versions. (I've never used the B1-on, so can't compare to that. I did own the MS-60.)

    P.S.- You can add the two band parametric to the B1 Four. That's what I did.
    Al Krow and greenhalagog like this.
  12. I've had the same problem when trying to practice with studio headphones. The solution for me was to use the RC Boost as one of the effects to boost the volume without affecting the tone.

    As for the noise issue, try a different power supply. Digital effects can be picky about 9v adapters. Also, the ground lift on your amp's DI isn't going to affect the Zoom--it just disconnects the ground pin on the XLR output.
  13. NoiseNinja

    NoiseNinja Experimental-psychedelic-ambient-noise-drone Inactive

    Feb 23, 2011
    Plus the effects are more tweakable with more available parameters on the B1Xon, and the build in expression pedal can be assigned to control whichever parameter of whichever effect in the active patch, and at whichever direction and in whichever range of the parameter in question, one should wish, plus the specific dedicated expression pedal effects that the Four pedals also got, just even a few more of these too.

    In comparison the effects on the four seriously lacks tweakability and the utility of the build in expression pedal is limited to a small handful of specific dedicated expression pedal effects and even specific parameters of the these effects.

    And no you can't add the 2 band parametric EQ effect to the Four models, you can of course use 2 1 band parametric EQ'es. but that will take up 2 effect slots, where it only takes up 1 on the B1Xon.
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2021
    andruca likes this.
  14. There is a 2-band EQ that is compatible with the B1 Four (and only takes up one FX slot), but I'm not sure which Zoom pedal it comes from off the top of my head. I think it comes from the A1 Four. Like I said, I have it loaded on mine.

    Edit: The A1 Four does indeed come with a 2-band parametric, the ParaEQx2 effect.
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2021
  15. NoiseNinja

    NoiseNinja Experimental-psychedelic-ambient-noise-drone Inactive

    Feb 23, 2011
    I stand corrected.

    Though I wonder what the reasoning for not including that in the B and G version as standard from stock could possibly be.

    Still you can't assign the build in expression pedal of the X Four models exactly as you want, any range, any effect, any parameter, as you can with the older B1Xon and G1Xon, limiting the expression pedal's use on the X Four models to a rather limited amount of parameters on a rather limited amount of specific dedicated expression pedal targeted effect models.

    And that seems like a clear downgrade to me, as is, as far as I am concerned, the limited access to adjusting effect parameters in general of the newer generation Zoom units.

    Also beyond perhaps the amp, cab and distortion emulations/simulation of the newer generation effect models, as found for example in the B1 Four and G1 Four units, I don't hear any clear objective improvement otherwise as far as goes just about any other effect modeling, compared to the previous generation Zoom effect models found in for example the B1Xon and MS-70CDR units.

    And I actually do own both the G1 Four and the B1 Four myself, and have read the manuals, for the X versions as well, but they don't see any current use in my setup, were as both my hacked (loaded with various effect models from all of the same generation Zoom units) G1Xon and MS-70CDR does.
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2021
  16. Yea, that expression pedal on the _1Xon sounds pretty killer. I'm not here to push the B1 Four or anything, just trying to provide info that might help others use it to their max benefit. I've never used the B1Xon, but it sounds like there are some pros and cons to both pedals. The B1 Four works great for me, but my needs are very different from most users because I play mostly upright (about 98% upright since the pandemic hit). I found my MS-60B too difficult to really use live, but it sounds like the B1Xon/G1Xon might just be worth picking up given the price point.

    have to admit, I've always been put off by the cheap looks of the x1-on series, but it sounds like it's worth trying anyway.
  17. NoiseNinja

    NoiseNinja Experimental-psychedelic-ambient-noise-drone Inactive

    Feb 23, 2011
    Yeah, I love my Zoom G1Xon, one of my absolute favorites of all the pedals I own, and I genuinely think the G1Xon and B1Xon possibly are the best pedals Zoom ever made, or at very least arguably easily the one Zoom multi effect with the most flexible UI.

    So if I was you I would grab one of those while still readily available.

    And as a matter of fact that is just what I indeed plan to do soon, to have a spare, just in case something should happen to my G1Xon.

    Note though, just to make that clear, that while you can assign the build in expression pedal, which actually works really great, to any parameter of any of the effects in whatever active patch, at whatever parameter range and direction, you can only assign it to control one parameter on one effect per patch.

    I would also say that getting the program hack that allows you to install all of the effects from the same generation of Zoom models, that is any effects from the G1(X)on, B1(X)on, MS-50G, MS-60B or MS-70CDR, only limited by the physical flash memory storage space of the pedal, which can actually hold quite a big collection of pedals (though slightly less than the flash memory storage space of the MS-70CDR), especially if you sort the effects so you only got the ones stored that you actually possibly could find use for.

    Also note that the maximum number of effect models per patch is 5, like on the Four models, which is 1 more than the 4 of the MS-60B, but 1 less than the 6 of the MS-70CDR.

    For me the much friendlier access to swapping between patches on the fly using your foot, together with the extremely flexible build in expression pedal assignment feature, and the generaly more flexible overall master patch control options, of the G1Xon or B1Xon, easily out weights the 1 additional maximum number of effect models pr patch and slightly larger flash memory storage space (basically meaning being able to have a few more effect models stored in the unit at once) of the MS-70CDR.

    Personally I currently use my G1Xon exclusively as a reverb unit, having different reverb patches (some of them including delay models with reverb like settings) set up in a way that makes it fairly easy for me to swap between them on the fly in a rehearsal or live situation, among those an always on really subtle plate reverb, and a thick lush reverb patch used in combination with the build in expression pedal, set to control the input volume of the unit, for a swell in pad effect.

    However I recently did an experiment to see if I could possibly dial in the perfect wah pedal tone for me out on my G1Xon as well, and settled for using the M-Filter envelope filter model, emulating a Moog MOOG MF-101 Low Pass Filter pedal (though it can be set to function as a BPF or HPF instead as well), with the Sense parameter set to 0, the build in expression pedal assigned to control the Frequency parameter, a tine amount of unaffected clean signal mixed in, the Mix parameter set to 90 (basically meaning 90% filtered signal/10% clean signal), and otherwise dialed in to give me a really aggressive and prominent strong and pronounced "wOÚh" kind of filter effect, rather than the typical "wAh" kind of effect.

    But as I otherwise have no effect pedals filling out a wah pedal/envelope filter function on my current board, the main reason for this being that I couldn't see myself having any use for such, this experiment really wasn't meant to ever be anything else but just an experiment, however it happened to turn out so great that I now consider incorporating this experimental wah pedal patch in my series/sequence of patched to swap between, as I suddenly could see how it could possibly be of use in the music I compose and play.

    Here's a link to a post with the settings I used for this wah pedal patch : For those of you who still uses a Zoom B1Xon: Pronounced lush and aggressive Wah pedal patch!
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2021
    andruca likes this.
  18. So, I was playing around with the Dual Parametric and realized I could probably save an FX slot by replacing the HPF ("Low EQ" in HPF mode) with the Dual Parametric effect. My thinking is to use one band for HPF purposes and the other for EQ. I decided to take some measurements to see how well it would function as an HPF. Here are the results. Perhaps I should narrow the bandwidth to make the slope steeper?
    Zoom B1 Four - Dual Parametric EQ.jpg
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2021
    andruca likes this.
  19. andruca


    Mar 31, 2004
    Madrid (Spain)
    I was going thru' some stuff in my Zoom R24 recorder and found the chance to do a fair (yet short) A/B between my (long gone) B1XFour and my MS-60B, thus this "threadsurrection". I had the B1XFour sample in this video so I recorded the same phrase with my MS-60B, also in the Zoom R24, then made a video out of it in Reaper. The patch in the Four was my attempt at getting as close as possible to the patch in my MS-60B (my regular crunchy patch -my "clean" is just a bit cleaner than this, yet not clean really-). In the MS-60B it's just BassDrive+160Comp+ZNR, while in the B1XFour it's BassDrive+2x instances of BassPEQ+160Comp+ZNR. Same bass, 2003 (ceramic) Stingray5. Despite all the EQing the Four still sounds boxy, as if having a narrower response (sound like guitar effects). It also screws up the bass' timbre more, you can see it sort'a muffles its character. I also remember being frustrated by the Four's SansAm emulation getting more fart instead of more grit when increasing the gain. You can appreciate that here too, it's punchy, but mostly farts, in a boxy way, while the MS-60B grits and booms. I'd tend to think that would be due to a poor Bass Drive modelling, but I've experienced this with the B7K emulation and even with the SVT amp emulation too. More (useless) food for thought/speculation in the video description if anyone happens to be interested.

    Since I've opened this thread (and furtherly ditched my B1XFour) I got some more previous gen Zoom pedals. Nowadays I have the MS-60B, B3, G3, G1Xon and an MS-50G which is my latest addition, virtually a 6 slot MS-60B for me as I tuned the FX inside with all bass relevant stuff using (unofficial) Zoom Effects Manager 1.1.1. Also did so to my G1Xon back when I got it, and added guitar amps to my MS-60B too.

    I too am of the opinion that the B1Xon/G1Xon probably compiles everything good about Zoom's multiFX, sounds top and offers a lot of functionality. It'd just be perfect if it also:
    1. had a DI out
    2. worked as an audio interface
    3. had some form of non volatile sample storage linkable to patches (the archaic 708II model had that, used a SmartMedia card -speak of archaic-)
    I don't mention a metal housing because I've been convinced with facts that Zoom's plastic pedals are more than OK (had several, never has anything ever broke on them). My G1Xon once fell from a 2m high shelf onto a desk, then to the floor. Not a mark in the Xon, which still works perfectly 1.5 years later, and it made a hell of a hole on the desktop.
    Last edited: May 25, 2022
    AlexanderB likes this.
  20. Derek Williams

    Derek Williams Gold Supporting Member

    May 14, 2020
    Milton Keynes, UK
    It's amazing that a cheap multifx can still inspire hate almost 2 years on :D Have you tried the B6 yet? It looks quite impressive, it would be interesting to hear if these issues have improved.

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