DigiTech 2120 VGS Artist vs. ZOOM 707 II
Guitar Multi Effects Processors
Let's start with the factory presets. Bear in mind that effects are a very personal matter for each individual, and my tastes in tones are probably completely different from your tastes. The Zoom processor wins hands-down as far as out of the box sounds are concerned. I found a whopping six usable patches out of the hundred plus available (sad). With the Digitech there were two out of a hundred and twenty plus factory presets that had even a hint of appeal (sadder). It is obvious that Digitech wanted me to notice their much ballyhooed noise gate. So much so that they turned the cut off threshold up to such a high level that some of the presets would not make a sound unless I hit the strings with a hammer. The situation improved greatly once I turned the noise gate down to a more realistic level. Still, Digitech should have been ashamed of their factory presets. I can't imagine any prospective buyer, even the squids among us, being dazzled by the default patches. Bottom line? Neither of these units is very satisfying out of the box. Both will require some serious tweaking and tedious experimentation before they will be allowed to appear on stage as my stompee.
The Zoom is strictly a processor and meant to be plugged into the guitar input on your amp. The Digitech is a preamp/processor and works best when plugged directly into a power amp or the effects return jack. Because the Zoom is made of plastic, I fully expect that one day it will crumble beneath my foot. The Digitech's Control One foot controller is far more rugged, but I fully expect the switches beneath the foot pads to stop functioning at some point. Why do I fully expect these malfunctions? Because other users have already complained about those and other weaknesses in both units. Other users have also commented about the Digitech being quite responsive to different preamp tubes. I have no complaints about the Digitech tones with the stock Sovtek tubes... I can adjust the overdrive for a creamy two-stroke chainsaw tone or a completely wet flatulence tone or anything in-between. Considering that the Zoom has no tubes, the overdriven tones are quite believable, actually good.
The best thing about both these processors is their excellent dynamic response. Most other processors I've used have a definite compressed (choked) feel to them regardless of the settings. The Digitech and Zoom both have a hot, direct to the amp sort of feel. For me, that translates into inspiration and energetic enthusiasm in my playing technique. One other thing these two animals have in common is the inclusion of a wah-wah that absolutely stinks. This is extra-bad for DigiTech, because they actually boast about their wah being so good. Someone in Utah is utterly confused. On a brighter note, clean tones through the Digitech are super, probably its finest asset. Clean tones through the Zoom are nice but nowhere close in comparison to the Digitech. My favorite Zoom preset is "Cats", a fairly righteous copy of Brian Setzer's Gretsch tone. At the other end of the spectrum, the most disappointing preset on the Digitech is the ZZ Top overdrive. I don't know if Billy Gibbons designed this patch for Digitech, I'm curious as to what he might say if forced to use that sound for an entire gig. But now, I might be mistaken (uh, haw haw).
One big advantage of the Digitech is the amount of user support to be found in a number of internet forums. There are plenty of user created patches available on the web for loading directly into the processor via midi connections between the unit and your computer using the RPedit software available (free) at Harmony Central.
In the interest of keeping this review brief I'll close with the suggestion that you read the user reviews at Harmony Central for both units. Each processor has its good and bad points. In my opinion the Digitech is a pro level unit which can be adjusted to provide any sound you could possibly desire... with an emphasis on the word "adjusted". The Zoom is a cool thing but limited in comparison, more of an entry level or lazy man's processor. Either unit can make you a happy squid if you are willing to tweak a bit.
RPedit patch editor