Finding a Zoom 707 II
Please note that the Zoom 707 II is not nearly as common on eBay as the original GFX-707. That's not to say that it is rare, just that people seem to hang on to them.
Some background ...
The Zoom Corporation of Japan (founded in 1983) has a long and illustrious history of providing musicians with high-tech guitar/bass multi-effects units (and more recently recording gear). All at very reasonable prices.
Zoom products feature robust construction and a level of electronic sophistication that has seen even their older products retain substantial resale value. In some cases more than a decade after their initial release.
Broadly speaking, Zoom products are up there with the best of them and are often better value for money.
Buying a Used Zoom 707 II
Aside from cosmetic wear and tear, there is not a lot that will go wrong with these units ... it is either functional or it's not.
Like its predecessor though the Zoom 707 II has issues with its 6mm (1/4") input and output sockets which are mounted directly onto the PCB. Over time and use, the solder joints will weaken and break causing a 'crackling' during use and possible total failure.
Fortunately, resoldering of all the socket connections to the circuit board is a simple fix.
It's not unusual to see the Zoom 707 II listed for over AUD $100 or generally $20 to $40 more than the 707. Since I happen to prefer the original 707 for a number of reasons, I find that extra cost difficult to justify.
At between AUD $80 and $100, a Zoom 707 II is probably reasonable value, if only for the extra User Patches you can store.
People flogging these on eBay who expect to get over $150 are kidding themselves. You can buy the latest generation Zoom equivalent (new and far superior) for around the same price.
The GFX series were around AUD $350 to $450 new, back in the early 2000's. Keep a look-out for a Zoom 707 II loaded with a 128MB SmartMedia card for a full 8 minutes of looping capability.
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Zoom 707 II is a very powerful guitar multi-effects unit. While still compact, versatile and sturdy, it is substantially different in more than just appearance from its predecessor the original Zoom GFX-707. I got my 707 II not long after the GFX-707, so I was using them both side-by-side for many years.
With the 707 II, Zoom technicians completely revised the analogue effects section. They also redesigned the controls and improved the operational functionality, while adding support for up to a 128MB Smart Media Card, for storing patch information and/or for storing recorded playing (up to an 8 minute loop!).
Technically the 707 II is a better device in just about every way, when compared to the original GFX-707. But the truth is, I tend to like the original 707 better. Apparently so do a lot of other 707 users, judging by the price that the original 707 still commands relative to the 707 II.
This is not a fault of either the 707 II device or it's maker, just an acknowledgement that the original 707 has a particular or perhaps peculiar combination of attributes that guitarists seem to like. For one thing, the chorus isn't as rich on the 707 II, suggesting some changes to the DSP (Digital Signal Processor) circuitry as well.
(See also Zoom GFX-707 and Bass Guitar Zoom BFX-708).
An Overview of the Zoom 707 II
Like its predecessor, the Zoom 707 II is nothing less than an effects rack in a box. Again divided into two main effects sections, being Analogue and Digital.
The Analogue (and first) section includes your basic Compression, Limiting, Noise Gate, Gain, Distortion, Sustain, Fuzz and EQ functions. The optional Cabinet Simulation (which affects all patches and is really just more EQ'ing) is also analogue.
These analogue elements allow you to create your basic guitar sound or 'flavour' for a patch. Again the diversity of possible sounds is impressive. One can recreate most popular guitarists' sounds and/or amazing and totally original sounds in minutes. Importantly, the analogue section has been completely redesigned.
The Digital section features the full range of DSP (Digital Signal Processing) functions including: Chorus, Flange, Phase, Tremolo, Wah, Pitch Shift, Ring Modulation, several Delay / Echo options, various Reverb settings and more. The Pitch Shift option includes a range of steps from -2 to +2 octaves, making for some great harmony effects. The tracking is flawless.
For control over sound ambience, the Reverb options include a simple Tone control to increase/reduce the brightness of reflected sounds, while offering a useful array of (now standard) reverb environments (Room, Hall, Plate, etc.).
All DSP options can be set up individually and may be used in combination (e.g. Chorus + Delay / Reverb).
The pedal can be assigned to perform various effect parameter control functions (e.g. modulation depth, delay length, pitch frequency, etc.), as well as the expected standard Volume and Wah. The Volume Pedal function can also be assigned as Pre or Post delay effects.
The Zoom 707 II also has a built-in Rhythm function (a rather simple drum machine) that provides a selection of useful beats and patterns in various styles for practice or jamming. While these are factory presets with only Tempo and Volume controls, the quality is actually quite respectable and adequate for jamming.
PROS (Listed in order from Best Feature down):
- Extensive collection of Analogue and DSP effects. The Zoom 707 II can effectively replace an entire Pedal Board. 74 Effects (in 6 modules), with Amp (Cabinet) Settings, plus ZNR (Zoom Noise Reduction).
- Sampler Function. This is a major upgrade from the Zoom GFX 707 with up to 6 seconds recording time without SmartMedia and up to 8 minutes with SmartMedia. Loops can be stored for later recall/playback. A great way to capture ideas on the fly.
These days finding a SmartMedia card might prove challenging though. The 707 II can use SmartMedia cards with a capacity from 16 to 128 MB (designed for 3.3V).
- 60 User Programmable Patches (6 Banks, A through F, by 10 patches per Bank).
Plus 60 (Read Only) Factory Presets for a Total of 120 patches. Twice the capacity of the GFX-707.
Comes loaded with 60 Factory presets which are documented the User Manual.
The unit can be Reset to Factory Default if required, restoring all 120 of the original patches. Please remember to either save or document your existing User Patches first, as there is no 'undo' for this action.
- User Patches can be individually named with Alpha-numeric characters and a wide selection of symbol characters including stars, hashes and spaces. Name length up to 6 characters.
- Extremely compact.
- Expression Pedal. Can be used to control Patch Parameters as well as the standard Volume Pedal and Wah functions.
- Stereo / Mono Output. The ability to provide an output to two amplifiers for Stereo Chorus and Stereo Delay effects should not be underrated.
- Independent Output Level Control. A stupidly simple, but totally essential item, that allows you plug the Zoom 707 II into an amp, headphones or mixing/recording console with complete ease.
- Comprehensive and importantly, easy to understand User Manual.
After some feedback on this subject, I will admit there is probably some familiarity bias there on my part. Some have found the manual confusing.
Note: The documentation (User Manual / Specifications in several languages) can be downloaded from the Zoom web site. Unlike some manufacturers, Zoom are good at providing documentation (and even software) support for their older products.
- Robust Construction. Don't be fooled, these pedals are molded from industrial grade plastic. You might be able to scratch it up some, but you are unlikely to ever actually break it (in normal use).
- Power Options: Plug-pack (9V) or Battery (6V - 4 x AA) Operation. Good for up to 11 hours with fresh Alkaline batteries.
- Tuner / Bypass / Mute functions. Note that the Bypass is internal to the electronics and is not a complete (physical) bypass.
- Built in Rhythm Machine with some useful beats for rehearsal & jamming (60 patterns overall).
- Patches can be edited/tweaked live (in 'real time'). However, to be useful, this assumes that the device is not sitting on the floor (not likely when playing live). Also these 'live' tweaks can't be saved/stored unless made in 'Edit' mode.
CONS (Listed in order from Worst Feature down):
- Factory Preset patch levels are still inconsistent (read as: 'all over the place'). This means that you will almost certainly need to program and save your own User Patches for any serious live playing and/or recording.
- Pedal movement range is too short (same as for GFX-707, about half what it should be).
This is no doubt in part due to the fact that the pedal uses an optical system (LED transmitter/receiver). The result is that using the Zoom 707 II for a Volume or Wah pedal requires very delicate foot control.
- Cabinet Simulation is better than the GFX-707, but still not impressive.
- DSP effects are NOT available while using the Sampler. This is rather unfortunate because it means that you can only Loop dry sounds, or you need to use a second pedal for ambience effects.
- Switching between patches can be tedious unless you either;
(a) carefully organise your user patches (see below for suggestions) and/or
(b) do a mod to allow Bank Up/Down switching to also be footswitch controlled.
- Patch creation can be time consuming but at least patches can be saved to removable media (and then copied to PC). This means that you won't need to write your patches down (though, maybe it would still be a good idea, just in case ... ).
- The Zoom 707 II has a substantial learning curve, like its predecessor (particularly when it comes to patch editing). In reality, this is to be expected from any pro device with this many features. I mention it here purely to point out that this device won't magically read your mind and set itself up accordingly. It will take some user effort, but it is worth it.
- Most of the pre-programmed patches are really only good for demo purposes, or as a foundation to work from. While there are a number of useful 'ready to use' preset patches, you will almost certainly need to create, configure and store your own patches for playing and/or recording.
Using the Zoom 707 II
You can edit any existing patch and save it as a new User Patch. The User Manual includes relatively easy to follow instructions for creating and saving patches. As with all things, it gets easier once you have done it a few times.
Once set up, the Zoom 707 II is relatively simple to use, if you have arranged your patches wisely. The difficulty with almost any multi-effects unit is that you can't apply/remove individual effects 'on the fly' as you can with a Pedal Board that contains discrete effects units. This means that you really need to organise your patches carefully for live performing.
Editor's Note: A notable exception is the Zoom G9.2tt (currently my go-to effects console), which has a 'Live' mode that allows individual effects within a patch to be turned on and off as if they were a bunch of individual pedals - amongst other amazing features.
Creating a Start-Up User Patch
When the Zoom 707 II first boots up it switches to patch A0 (the first User Patch). From experience, I would strongly recommend that you make this what I call a 'Clean' patch. This means turning off all compression, distortion and DSP effects. Essentially this is the Zoom 707 II equivalent of a 'bypass'. If the Zoom 707 II boots to a high gain patch, it may lead to an unpleasant audience reaction, particularly if your amp is already cranked way up.
Organising Your Zoom 707 II User Patches
There are two recommended approaches to organising your User Patches for best results.
- By Type:
This involves arranging your patches by type or style. For example; In Bank A you might have just ambient sounds. This could include Chorus plus delay effects, where the effect depth increases or becomes more dramatic as you move from patch A0 to A9. In Bank B you might have Rock guitar sounds getting louder and/or more distorted as you progress from patch B0 to B9. In Bank C you might have the same (or similar) patches to Bank B but with various levels of added Delay/Echo/Reverb for a thicker sound. Again becoming more pronounced as you progress from Patch C0 to C9.
- By Song:
This approach is a lot easier to manage with the Zoom 707 II which has 60 user patches (6 banks by 10) to work with (double those of the original 707). So, for example: If each song required its own set of three patches, you could easily set up for 20 songs.
The most important aspect of setting up your User Patches is to come up with a system you can firstly work with, and secondly remember. Getting organised and documenting your patches will greatly improve your ability to get the most from the Zoom 707 II.
Of course, if you really need to store more patches, you could just get a second Zoom 707 II. Given the average price, this is a realistic option.
Naming Your Zoom GFX-707 User Patches
It is strongly recommended that you take advantage of the extensive User Patch naming capability of the Zoom 707 II. Creating 'User Friendly' patch names can make using the Zoom 707 II a whole lot easier.
Due to some very fundamental differences between the available analogue effects options on the GFX-707 and the Zoom 707 II, it is (very unfortunately) not possible to simply copy settings from the GFX-707 to the Zoom 707 II. The DSP sections of the two devices are however very similar, allowing most digital effects settings to be more readily (manually) copied from the 707 to the 707 II.
The following assessment of the Zoom 707 II takes into account the age of this device and is not an attempt to compare it to Guitar Multi-Effects devices currently on the market.
- Features [10/10]:
For its age, I would rate the feature set of the Zoom 707 II as excellent. The addition of extra memory via the Smart-media slot allows for both longer loops and the ability to store patches. All multi-effects devices should have that ability.
- Ease Of Use [8/10]:
Once your patches are programmed (the time consuming part), the Zoom 707 II is relatively straight forward to operate. You will however get a lot more value from this device if you take the time to read (and hopefully understand) the manual.
- Analogue Effects [8/10]:
This device can provide an outrageous amount of gain (if required) for Compression, Distortion, Sustain and Fuzz effects. When combined with some fairly simple but useful Equalization options, almost any guitar sound can be emulated. You can readily get a clean Jazz sound or range anywhere from Classic Blues through to Heavy Metal. Also, for what it's worth, the proprietary ZNR (Zoom Noise Reduction) actually works quite well for keeping noise levels down when using high gain settings.
- Amp (Cabinet) Simulation [7/10]:
Better than the original 707 modeling but still nothing impressive. I tend to leave it in 'Clean' mode.
- Digital Effects (DSP) [10/10]:
While Digital Signal Processing has improved significantly over the last decade the Zoom 707 II's capabilities are still impressive. There is nothing cheap and nasty about the onboard DSP.
- Noise Levels [9/10]:
The Zoom 707 II is in itself an inherently quiet device. In fact, you can chain two of these units together and still get excellent noise performance.
The primary noise source will be your guitar and any mains related noise that the guitar picks up. If mains noise is an issue, try using the Zoom 707 II with batteries instead of a mains powered Plug-Pack. Using high gain settings for some of the Analogue effects or ramping up the Presence and Treble in the EQ department will of course make any input noise more noticeable.
- Construction [9/10]:
A very solidly made and robust device that (for the most part) has withstood the test of time. I would have scored the Zoom 707 II a 10 for construction except that the 6mm (1/4") In and Out jacks are supported ONLY by the main circuit board. After a while the soldering to the board WILL fail causing the jacks to become noisy with possible signal breakup or even complete signal failure. This could have been easily avoided if the jacks were mounted or at least properly supported by the chassis. Fortunately the problem is very easy to fix in under 2 minutes with a soldering iron.
- Value For Money [10/10]:
This unit has always been excellent value for money, even when it was new. To individually purchase all the effects that are contained in this unit would (when it was new) have cost well over $2,500 (that being a very conservative estimate).
Overall Average Score 9/10.
Your comments and contributions are greatly appreciated!
181231 - (Excellent) - I own a 707II which was given to me by my cousin and its great. I am searching for any reviews online just to know how others appreciate the effects and yes, this review is a fair review of the zoom 707II.
Editor's Note: Thanks! - A lot of the actual product reviews for this particular guitar tech have been taken down over the years, leaving mostly spurious comments to be found in forum posts. Often these are by people who (in my opinion) have little to no understanding of how the device actually works, or just couldn't be bothered taking the time to find out how to set it up properly. Just something I've noticed over the years. If this 707 II article has been useful, then it has done its job ;-)
161125 - (Excellent) - Excellent review .. I have this unit too & love it.
Editor's Note: Your contributions are appreciated.
Incept Date: Wizard - 150501
Major Update: Wizard - 180812
Last Update: Wizard - 210116