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Zoom 9002 Pro

Advanced Guitar Effects Processor By Paul White
Published July 1994

Paul White checks out the latest incarnation of the Zoom 9002, which includes updated circuitry, digital noise reduction, a built‑in tuner and a metronome.

If the shape of the 9002 Pro looks familiar to you, it's because Zoom's first guitar effects processor, the 9002 (see review in December 1990's SOS), also looked like a cross between Darth Vader's codpiece and a Star Trek (Next Generation) shuttlecraft. The idea behind the styling is that you can wear the processor on your belt, wrist or guitar strap, but my guess is that most people will stand them on top of their amps, just as they did with the original 9002 — and curse just as loudly when they fall off!

The 9002 Pro may look identical to the original, but it has updated circuitry, digital noise reduction and better sounds. Though it's no bigger than a Walkman, the Pro is no toy; it features an analogue input stage complete with overdrive and compression, 16‑bit digital effects processing for the creation of delay, modulation, pitch shifting, EQ and reverb, and a straightforward interface that uses sliders rather than buttons to change parameter values while editing. A rechargeable battery is packaged with the unit, allowing it to be used without the (included) mains adaptor for up to two and a half hours between charges, and there's also a metronome and a tuning reference which can be set to A=440Hz, 441Hz or 442Hz. The metronome sounds about as inspiring as a miked‑up woodpecker, but it's there if you need it; just make sure you don't accidentally press the button during a gig! It's also worth noting that the mini‑jack power supply connector also fits perfectly into the remote control socket, which is situated next to the power socket on the side of the unit. Plugging 9V into the remote socket might not necessarily do it any harm, depending on how the remote socket has been designed, but then again it might – so watch out when connecting the power supply. If you don't intend to use the (optional) remote, it might be a good idea to cover the remote socket with a bit of tape to guard against accidents.

What makes the 9002 Pro particularly interesting is that, in addition to the previously named effects, it also has a very effective amp simulator, which means you can cut out the middle man and pipe your dream guitar sound directly to tape. A sensitivity switch matches the input to guitars with single coil or humbucking pickups, while the stereo output jack may be used with a mono jack if a mono output is required, as might be the case when playing through a regular guitar amp. Additionally, there are two sets of mini headphone jacks so that you can either practice in private or coerce someone else to share the experience with you!

Because the 9002 Pro is so small, some of its controls are a bit fiddly, especially the minuscule On/Off switch and the thumbwheel volume control. However, the editing buttons and sliders on the front panel are easy enough to use, and the custom LCD window makes editing a cinch. After the usual warnings about not using the unit underwater or cleaning it with battery acid, the brief manual settles down a bit and starts telling you things you need to know, such as the fact that the 9002 Pro has 40 factory presets and 40 user memories. To make patch accessing easy, the factory and user locations are split into 10 banks of four patches each. One set of Up/Down buttons navigates through the banks, while the four numbered buttons at the bottom edge of the front panel select which of the four patches is to be loaded.

There are six different effects sections available and all may be used simultaneously if required. Each section comprises one or more different effect types, one of which may be selected at a time. (See box for a brief rundown of the available effects.)

Editing an effect is simply a matter of moving the display cursor to the required effect and then using the Bypass button to turn that effect on or off. Once the required effects have been selected, the three faders may be used to access effect parameters directly, while bargraph indicators in the display reflect the parameter value. If an effect contains switched options rather than variable ones (such as the three SFX types), slider number three is used to select these. Finally, by moving the cursor off the end of the row of effects names, you can set the patch level and noise reduction threshold. The noise reduction appears to work like a gate with a moderate release time, and it comes in before the reverb and delay effects, which prevents the reverb decay being truncated. A user patch may be stored over an old one, or into any other user patch location, whereas an edited factory patch may only be stored in a user memory location.

Using The 9002 Pro

As the 9002 Pro offers so few parameters per effect to play with, you might think that its repertoire would be fairly limited, but that isn't the case. By combining the different effects in different proportions, it's possible to create a wide spectrum of voicings, from glassy Rockman chorused clean sounds to extremely convincing rock guitar.

The EQ and amp simulator work together to provide the kind of throaty, slightly boxy sound that you get from miking up a good combo in the studio; by careful use of the compressor and overdrive, you can produce a real sense of power and energy that comes over well in a mix. The use of analogue overdrive was obviously a good move on Zoom's part, as it sounds far better to my ears than most of the digital simulations I've heard, allowing the guitar's harmonics to sing out without the need to pile on ridiculous amounts of gain. You can always tell when a guitar effects processor is working properly because the actual feel of the guitar seems to change depending on the type of sound you set up. This is a difficult thing for non‑guitar players to appreciate, but using the 9002 Pro, my guitar felt easier to play, with less apparent effort being needed to bend the strings.


Apart from the packaging — which wins full marks for style and the best part of sod all for practicality — I really like the 9002 Pro. I like the way it sounds, I like the instant gratification factor, and I appreciate its ease of editing. It may not have the creative potential of something like Zoom's own 9050, but the basic sound is, to my ears, every bit as good. As ever, the pitch shifter sounds a bit suspect if you have it too high in the mix, but if it's used just to add a bass octave underneath the guitar or a subtle fifth above, it sounds reasonably smooth.

The 9002 Pro is able to produce most rock and blues guitar sounds with reasonable authenticity, as well as the cleaner contemporary sounds, though to restrict the device only to processing guitar might be to under‑utilise it. The effects, including the overdrive, work perfectly well on synths, and you can even use the 9002 Pro to process vocals or acoustic instruments if you're after something a little bit special. On the whole, the 9002 Pro is a worthwhile step up from the original 9002; if you've never successfully DI'd your guitar before, I suggest you check it out now to see what you're missing.


The 9002 Pro's effects are based on six blocks:

  • Compression
  • Distortion
  • EQ
  • Modulation
  • Reverb/Delay
  • Special Effects.

The compression section provides control only over the depth of the compression; the overdrive section also includes switching for the amp simulator. There are two EQ variations, both tailored to the guitar, the first of which is a 2‑band equaliser, and the second a harmonic exciter.

The modulation group offers pitch shifting over a range of plus or minus one octave, phasing, flanging and chorus, while Delay 1 offers delays of up to one second. Delay is also an option in the reverb section, where the choice is between delay (up to 0.9S) and either room or hall reverb. Finally, the SFX section offers sample‑and‑hold style filtering, 'Cry' — which is a kind of auto wah — and 'Metallic', which produces ring modulator effects.

All the digital delay, modulation and reverb effects appear to produce a stereo output. Up to three variable parameters are provided per effect, and a different noise reduction threshold may be set for each patch. Noise reduction doesn't count as an effect, so you don't have to use it instead of something else.

Artist Edition: Patches From The Pros

The more observant amongst you may have noticed the phrase 'Artist Edition' on the photo printed with this review. The unit is so named because Zoom have secured the services of a number of famous widdly‑widdly merchants in programming no less than eight banks of guitar treatments for the 9002 Pro. The guitarists who lent their talents were:

Banks 0/1: Brian May

Bank 2: Richie Sambora

Bank 3: Dweezil Zappa

Bank 4: Tim Kelly (Slaughter), Steve Brown (Trickster)

Bank 5: Paul Pesco

Bank 6: Eric Struthers (Neville Brothers), Ben Mink, Adrian Legg

Bank 7: Takeshi Honda (Ex Personz)


  • Easy to use.
  • Surprisingly wide range of convincing guitar sounds.
  • Rechargeable battery included.


  • Packaging more stylish than practical.
  • Power isn't cut off when the input is unplugged, so if you switch off at the mains while the unit is running from the power adaptor, you'll come back to find the battery is flat!
  • LCD still not backlit, which may be a problem for some people


The ideal guitar effects processor for those who want a fully produced, DI'd guitar sound without having to get too bogged down in patch editing.