I had been using my Line 6 Helix as my bass rig either direct to house or run through my QSC 10.2. It’s an awesome bass rig but I’m a pretty simple man when it comes to bass and I didn’t need that many options and I also wanted to see if I could find something smaller.
First I tried the Tech 21 Bass Fly Rig. I just didn’t click with it. I had looked at the new Zoom B3n but it didn’t have an XLR out which was a deal breaker for me. Then a friend and bandmate said she had the Zoom B3 and loved it. It’s the older, now discontinued version and in my opinion (and others I’ve read) superior to the newer B3n, and it has an XLR. I was looking at used B3s when I decided to search “bass multi-fx” here on Sweetwater and see if anything else looked promising. The Zoom B6 looked great but again, way more than I needed. Then I stumbled upon the B2 Four. PERFECT.
Small, simple, yet still LOTS of options, and it had an XLR out. I was also very impressed by the design in that the navigational buttons are on a raised corner meaning you can use them fairly easily with your foot too. Looks sleek. You can “only” have 5 FX at a time (that includes amp sims) but that’s plenty enough for me.
Today I went through all 250 presets and was very impressed. They sounded great and spanned lots of sounds and genres and most were very usable. It’s fairly intuitive and if I have one complaint it’s that the manual is pretty sparse and basic but has all the information you absolutely need. My first impression is that there are tons of great emulations and a huge variety of ways to run it. I’d be surprised if you couldn’t find many sounds you like and cover anything you would want.
There’s many varieties of all the different kinds of FX, plus a great selection of preamps, amp/cab emulations, and a dedicated switch that steps through 6 different modeled DI boxes, 3 tube varieties and 3 SS versions. Or you can just turn it off, which I do since I run amp/cab sims so it seems weird to put a modeled DI after an amp/cab sim.
I also wasn’t exactly sure how the preamp models should be used. It seemed strange to me to put a preamp in front of an amp/cab sim, but some of the presets definitely did that, and I mean there’s really no “rules.” If it sounds good, it sounds good. I might just be too mired in old analog thinking of “Bass into amp/cab.” I mean who knows, maybe a preamp into an amp/cab and running one of the DI models might produce something cool. I haven’t tried yet. The presets also serve as a great way to learn the unit by analyzing them and seeing what’s running verses what you’re hearing. I remember one preset that was running the pitch shifter module but not actually doing any pitch shifting, but the unit itself definitely drastically changed the tone just being on. Another one used that same unit with a pitch shift of 1 cent to get a pretty good “With A Little Help From My Friends” sound. I never would have thought to use it in those ways.
I’m very happy with it and can’t wait to give it full run at next week’s gigs where I’ll probably run XLR straight to front of house. I have a simple patch set up with a noise suppressor, compressor, drive, and chorus, into an amp/cab, and I can use the 3 footswitches to toggle the compressor, drive, and chorus on/off. Your mileage and needs may vary but this unit was EXACTLY what I was looking for.