Bob Craypoe (also known as R. L. Crepeau) is a musician, writer, webmaster, 3D artist, and creator of the Punksters comic strip series.
The Zoom MS-70CDR pedal is a multi-effects unit that predominantly concentrates on chorus/modulation, delay, and reverb. Hence the CDR portion of its name.
Zoom makes some decent products that offer a number of good features at a good price. As a cheaper price often indicates, there may be some drawbacks or shortcomings associated with that cheaper price. So, in the end, you have to weigh the pros and the cons. That is what this review is about.
We all have certain expectations we would like to see met regarding our various purchases. Let me explain some of mine before I get into whether or not any of them were met, exceeded, or fell short.
I play out as a solo performer. I sing and play guitar. As a solo performer, I want to have as full a sound as is possible. My idea behind this purchase was to go into a more ambient type of sound. The unit has about 40 preset patches that are included on it and 10 blank patches for you to create your own.
I watched a few demo videos and they demonstrated some of the factory preset patches and they all sounded great. I was kind of hoping I would not have to spend too much time creating my own. Well, that is not the case. As it turns out, a lot of those factory presets were not really usable for what I wanted to do. So I will have to spend a lot of time developing ones that I will be able to incorporate into my music. Basically, no time was saved here in that respect.
I did expect it to be rich in features and it did meet that expectation with flying colors. The number of effects is more than adequate. It features 86 stompbox effects, with most revolving around chorus/modulation, delay and reverb. Each effect has a good number of parameters that you can edit. That should allow you to be able to tweak away until your preferences are met. The down side of that is that you may have to spend a lot of time experimenting to try to find the sound you are looking for. That’s why I had hoped the factory presets would cover most of that. I really was hoping to be able to save some time. It just didn't turn out that way though.
Power Supplies and Hum Issues
Unfortunately, this unit does not come with a power supply. It just comes with two AA batteries. I have read some online reviews where some people complained about an annoying hum. I hear no such thing. My theory as to why they had that problem is the power supply they were using. I had an old Zoom unit a while back and I was getting a nasty hum from it whenever I used something other than a Zoom power supply. That unit came with one, so instead of just using any old power supply, I used the Zoom brand and there was no problem.
In my current pedalboard setup, I use a Truetone 1 Spot adapter that powers up to eight effects units. I get no hum at all from any of my Zoom pedals, including this one. I currently have three different Zoom pedals on my pedalboard. Power adapters can be a tricky thing. You could buy a power supply that powers multiple pedals but some brands will work better with it than others. So far my luck with the Truetone 1 SPOT has been fairly good. The only problem I had was with one of my Electro-Harmonix pedals while having a Digitech pedal plugged in at the same time. So I use a different power supply for my Digitech units and that fixed the problem.
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I had already had experience with the Zoom G1on pedal. It had a tricky menu system because some buttons had multiple uses. But I was able to figure much out by just poking around. That’s the case with the CDR unit as well. I was able to just poke around on this unit and figure out a few things without having to look at the manual. Whenever I got stuck on something, I referred to the manual.
I read some online reviews and some people complained bout the lack of user friendliness regarding the menu system. Yeah, sure, the navigation could be easier but I think most multi-effects units can be tough for some people to navigate. But one of the advantages of a multi-effects unit is that it offers a lot of effects at a cheaper price than if you were to buy individual stompboxes for each effect. If I had the money, I would buy the individual stompboxes because of their ease of use, especially in live situations, but it would cost way too much money to do that.
Overall, I would say that the navigation isn’t that difficult. It may be for others, though; especially for people who are used to only using individual stompboxes.
In the various online reviews, the most common complaint was the unit’s use in a live situation, especially as it pertains to navigating from patch to patch and using the foot switch to turn the patch on and off. There is where I see the biggest drawback of the unit. There are some workarounds you could apply to the situation and I have been giving them some thought.
The foot switch will do really one of two things. If you select a specific effect within your effects chain, the foot switch will turn it off and on. However, your other effects in the chain (up to six) will remain on. There is no way to shut them all off at the same time by using the foot switch.
If you are in another screen, you can have a series of patches you can run through by pushing down on the foot switch. So a click on the foot switch may allow you to go from patch two to patch three and then on to others. You can program that into the unit. So one of my workarounds is to assign an empty patch to that series to act as a bypass. The only other alternative to that would be to use a loop selector switch but then you are adding to the overall cost of your pedalboard setup.
It's also very difficult to see what patch you are on because the display for the unit is so small. you would literally have to bend down to see it. the Zoom G1on is better in that sense. You can see the display very clearly while standing, unless you have vision problems. With the CDR unit, you just can't read it if it is on the floor and you are standing. I sit while playing, so it is less of a problem for me.
My Solution for Live Issues
My solution was to basically just use the pedal mainly just for the modulation effects and set up a chain of patches that allows me to scroll through them. Then I use different pedals for the reverb and delay. This unit has some great modulation sounds and the chassis is quite sturdy. It’s a good quality pedal that offers some great sounds. But the unit has some limitations for live use, so you have to find ways around those limitations. For recording purposes, I don’t see any real limitations at all.
The Bottom Line
This pedal's biggest limitations revolve around its potential for use in live situations. It could be inconvenient to use for a gig. The sound quality is great and it offers a lot of features. But let’s face it, nothing is easier to use at a gig than your basic stompbox. Multi-effects units are always going to be more difficult to use in live situations. But, as bad as that is, they often have a lot of features, are fine for recording purposes and are a lot cheaper than individual pedals. So you need to decide what you are looking for or feel you need for your situation.
© 2018 Bob Craypoe