ZOOM 1201: £160
This was the direct result of a search for a moddable machine that must have been sold in the hundreds of thousands of units, but now sits in a lot of peoples racks unused. Thats not to say there aren't some useful effects available on this unit, but these days many people will have replaced it with a computer, or just something better from the vast number of superb secondhand FX units selling for virtually nothing these days. As a result many Zoom units are now living in that twilight zone between not being good enough to be good, but not really being bad enough to be interesting. That wasn't the case in the late 90's though, when Zoom more or less ruled the budget FX unit world with the 1201, 1202, 1204, and later on the RFX1000 and RFX2000.
The 1201 was released in 1997 and was an instant hit. Virtually every home or budget studio in the late 90's either had one of these units or another cheap Zoom in the rack, probably alongside their Behringer Composer or Alesis 3630 compressors.
Its a stereo effects unit with a wide range of effects available. Theres not much in terms of editing and the reverbs are ok-ish, albeit the better end of ok-ish, but you didn't buy a 1201 for the quality of the reverbs or editing facilities. Probably the main attraction were the more interesting effects such as the Phaser, Tremolo/Pan, Auto Filter, Ring Modulator, LoFi EFX, Vocal distortion, Rotary speaker, and the main reason a lot of these units were bought, the Vocoder. Admittedly, the vocoder isn't exactly intelligible, but it was the late 90's and computers weren't really up to the job yet. Unless you had a Boss SE70, nobody had a vocoder!
Our mods have added a reclocking knob, a 14 way RAM decimation switching matrix and most importantly, a power switch! Only someone who hasn't spent hours reaching around the back of racks, or trying to figure out exactly which power supply in the 4 way sockets is the one for the Zoom, would underestimate the usefulness of something as simple as a power switch!
The switching matrix operates on any effect that uses the onboard RAM. This includes the reverbs, delay, chorus, flanger, pitch shifting, LoFi, ring modulation etc. It also mangles any effect that has RAM based variations selectable with the 'character' knob. This includes the vocoder and vocal distortion that also have variations that include delay and reverb.
The switching matrix allows you to apply what sounds like various kinds of comb filters, pseudo ring modulation, bit crushing, distortion, and what can only be described as audio smearing™. Each switch has a certain effect variation that is usually associated with it, such as a certain frequency of sample chopping or distortion intensity, although its effect can be altered depending on which other switches are activated simultaneously. You have to activate more than one switch at a time for any new effect to be applied, but when two or more switches are activated their associated effects will combine to produce something new. Usually the original signal is not effected, but the effect signal will be, i.e. in a delay setting the original dry signal will pass through the unit unscathed, but the actual delay signal will be mangled beyond recognition.
The only drawback of this unit is an occasional annoying amount of cyclical noise on certain effects and switching settings, and the fact that it often nearly gives you a heart attack when things get out of control very quickly, but with a little experience these issues can be avoided, assuming you want to avoid them.
The reclocking knob sets the system clock speed of the RAM and the analogue to digital converters. This means it will extend the reverb and delay times to a degree way outside of what would normally be possible. Reverbs can be altered from short metallic ambiances to massive washes of disconnected sound just by turning the knob. Delay times are now extendable to a crunchy 15 seconds! The knob also changes the pitch shifting and ring modulation frequency, and appears to do very odd things to the vocoder and LoFi EFX.
As the reclocking knob also controls the clock rate of the converters, it also changes the sample rate of the incoming audio. At higher than normal clock settings the audio quality is actually better than the stock machine!
A small silver dot has been added to mark the point around the knob where the unit is set to its normal system operation frequency
Take a listen to the demos below to hear what kind of sounds this unit is now capable of producing. The first demo is the complete decimation of a Christina Aguilera track, and a D****y acapella. The second is some self generated noise using the flanger effect, and some vocoder action. The third demo is the unit destroying a couple of drum loops.
If you want to buy this machine please get in contact HERE.