The other day I picked up an incredible little gem from Zoom called the MS-70CDR Chorus Delay Reverb pedal. This is a guitar pedal, but like many pedals it’s great to hook them up to keyboards and synths. I actually bought the Zoom MS-70CDR for my new Clavia Nord Lead 2x. Currently it’s attached to my Yamaha DX-7 which I use a lot to test effects because the sound is so dry. Simply put, the MS-70CDR sounds amazing. I mean this pedal culd be attached to any synth without internal effects. Every single solitary patch from the Zoom MS-70CDR sounds wonderful and like it was made for a synth. I think I spent about two hours last night jamming on the Yamaha DX7 mkI with new energy and life brought to the board.
The Zoom MS-70CDR gives you the traditional “great sounding” chorus effects, delays, and reverbs. What I found to be particularly pleasing with the effects were the ambient oriented effects that guitarists go for. Especially for something like the DX7, I found I could use some of the ambient reverb effects to smooth out the digital sound and almost, I say almost give the DX7 sound a more analog”ish” feel. The name of an example patch is called “Mangle Ice” and it’s terrific! The reverb moves around and it sounds pretty warm to my ears, so I really enjoyed the results. Somebody obviously took a great deal of time at Zoom to program each effect carefully. With the exception of maybe one effect, I found that every single effect worked perfectly in some fashion with the synth. The one that was a bit more crazy is called “stairway” which rattles off four notes if correct, so it’s a bit more difficult to control or arrange in a mix.
I LOVE the patch called “SmoothDLY” which is a delay sound that has a reverb feeling even though only delay is used. I also liked the “SmallClone” patch and another favorite called the “LOFI Noise” LOFI Noise was really cool. It ever so slightly and most importantly musically added noise to the sound. What I particularly liked about the Zoom MS-70CDR is that it could do two things extremely well. First it could add the Chorus Delay and Rever effect basics to your dry synth give it a new breath of life. A lot of effect pedals out there can already do this, but the second reason is what I find more rare. The MS-70CDR can also alter a synth patch slightly to the point where it actually creates a whole new patch altogether. The new patch is almost always fresh, musical, and very usable in the mix.
To compare, I attached another pedal which I picked up for my guitar called the Zoom MS-100BT Multistomp Pedal. This pedal is also great but follows along the lines of a more traditional guitar multi-effects pedal. I found with this pedal hooked to a synth it also worked great, BUT, many patches either didn’t work or were not very musical for a synth. Obviously heavy distortions, Wah, crazy pitch, and crunch effects are going to usually corrupt a good synth patch. Both the Zoom MS-100BT and MS-50G are excellent choices for synths, but you’ll have to do a bit of hunting and programming for the best patches. The Zoom MS-70CDR straight out of the box will make your synth sound absolutely fantastic. I should also note that most of the effects included in the MS-70CDR are exclusive to that pedal and will not be found on the MS-100BT or MS-50G which are roughly the same pedal.
I currently own all three Zoom MultiStomp pedals, the Zoom MS-50G, MS-100BT, and the new MS-70CDR. If I had to just pick one for my synths I hands down would buy the Zoom MS-70CDR. I then would buy a second one before buying the MS-50G or MS-100BT…laugh. I can live without the distortion and a few other effects on the regular MS-50/100 series pedeals. Actually the MS-70CDR does have a Phaser and Flanger effect built in. It should really be able to cover all of your modulation, delay, and reverb needs which is why I think it’s the perfect pedal for synths.
To me the MS-70CDR is a no brainer. It’s compact, pretty easy to use, and extremely versatile. For live shows or coming up with interesting sounds in the practice room it’ll definitely get the job done. I like this pedal so much I’m tempted to buy another one because I really find it’s likely be permanently fixed to the synths I use it on. Thankfully they are relatively cheap and easy to find, however they are VERY popular in Japan right now. I had to buy the floor model because it’s very difficult to find, although I did get a nice little discount.
Some will not like this pedal because it’s digital and there is a known DSP error if too many resource intensive effects are used at once. I have yet to have this happen probably because I don’t really need too many effects at one time on my synth. Rather I just need something to pull the synth out of the dry effect doldrums. Yes, the pedal is digital so it works wonders with the likes of the Yamaha DX7, Clavia Nord Lead, and even analog if you don’t mind it running with a digital signal in the chain.
Zoom has hit a home run with the Zoom MS-70CDR. If you are a synth player looking for a compact chorus, delay, and reverb pedal to add life to your old synths, it’s very hard not to consider the Zoom. I’ve used a lot of effects with synths over the years and I know well how they can just screw up the sound royally. I was amazingly surprised at how well the Zoom MS-70CDR made my synths come alive. I was even more surprised at how every single patch was usable. So much so I had a hard time figuring out which one to use as a “set it and leave it” effect. For the first time I felt like I “may” have to change effect patches along with the synth patch because there are so many good ones to choose from. Finally, I’ll say the MS-70CDR kind of brought the fun back to adding effects to synths. It’s my new effect fun box…laugh.
Here is a video of the Zoom MS-70CDR pedal with guitar. This video actually influenced me to get the pedal for my guitar. However, as I listened to the video I also thought how great it likely would work with keyboards and synths. I pretty much immediately ran out and snagged the pedal at the music store after watching the video. Boy, I’m glad I did because it was the last one!! Enjoy!