Acoustic guitar can be a tricky one to handle in both live and studio situations. Capturing the intricacies of an acoustic instrument together with having a constant reliable level, whilst still sounding how you want can be harder than it seems. And what’s the answer - Mics? DI? Pedals? Effects? There is no one real solution but Zoom’s latest offering, the AC-2, aims to help with your choices a little.
Billed as ‘your acoustic sound – amplified’, the AC-2 is a DI. Not ‘just’ a DI though; it incorporates a preamp, reverb, EQ, tuner, anti-feedback circuit, boost, a range of input/output options, including balanced and unbalanced, a ground lift and options for pre/post EQ and USB connectivity. Coming in a slightly larger than standard housing, the focus seems to be on usability live although the AC-2 can sit nicely on a desk or on the floor for studio use. The front of the unit is raised giving you access to mute/tuner and the boost function yet also means a stray foot shouldn’t alter the rest of the controls. The rest of the unit is clearly marked and easy to tweak quickly when needed.
One of the first things you’ll notice is the source guitar dial. Zoom’s premise is to use acoustic remodelling to restore tone that is lost when playing an acoustic guitar plugged in, be it to an amp or front of house or to an audio interface and the like. With settings from round and slope shoulder through to single cutaway, nylon string, resonator, 12 string and upright bass, Zoom are definitely trying to cover a broad section of the acoustic community. The manual goes into further detail regarding these settings, too, if you need some more info. After selecting your instrument type, you can tweak as needed. The EQ seems effective and clear and in a lot of cases may only be needed minimally if you’re using the EQ on your instrument as a starting point. From there the volume level and boost feature are handy for balancing levels and giving you access to extra oomph for solos or quieter passages.
The AC-2 is a great little unit. I was a bit sceptical at first of the modelling aspect, especially in terms of acoustic instruments, but it does seem to sound natural and perhaps add a little body to your tone. Tuning is clear and accurate, the reverb is usable and subtle at lower settings and the inbuilt boost is super handy. I know plenty of acoustic guitarists that just take a boost pedal to acoustic gigs, so having the added features is a bonus.
Hits and Misses
The faux wood look/exterior of the pedal will be a hit for some but not to my taste