The ZIO Analog Front End + Boost is an all-analog preamp/boost pedal with one simple goal: make everything sound better. ZIO features a choice of four preamp modes, each with its own distinct circuit design and tonal characteristics. This tone enhancing “Better Box” offers +20dB of additional boost and is the perfect tool for many situations like pushing an edge-of-breakup amplifier into low-gain bliss with enhanced body and punch, eliminating floppy low-end and tightening the sound of a high-gain amplifier, or bolstering the signal loss (a.k.a. “tone suck”) that occurs with large pedalboards and long cable runs. ZIO’s simple control set makes it easy to find the perfect “base tone” for any guitar/amp combo and insures that the dry signal hitting your pedals and amp remains strong and consistent.
The word ""ZIO"" is an acronym for Impedance (Z), Input (I), and Output (O). This is Source Audio’s first all-analog pedal. It was created in collaboration with Christopher Venter, the owner and sole engineer at SHOE Pedals out of Meriden, Connecticut. In addition to developing the entire SHOE Pedal collection (including the Savior Machine and Robert overdrive pedals), Christopher collaborated with DOD in 2016 to create the popular Looking Glass Overdrive pedal. Christopher has consulted for Source Audio in the past on pedals like the True Spring Reverb, but this is the first full collaboration between the two pedal companies.
ZIO features the following preamp circuits:
- JFET: Similar in character and behavior to a clean tube amp input with very low distortion. Using high quality JFET Input Burr Brown OP Amps, this mode is transparent and will not add any harshness or excessive brightness. JFET mode is also very helpful in a studio or home recording environment for delivering a more natural sound to the DI or line inputs.
- LOW-CUT: Designed to remove excessive low frequency rumble and buildup that makes it more difficult to get guitars (and sometimes basses) to sit well in a mix. The LOW-CUT preamp has no impact on the low midrange or presence frequencies, but instead reduces the ""low lows"" to improve headroom and provide a tighter sound in high-gain amplifiers, guitar neck pickups, or bass guitars and synths.
- STUDIO: Based on a pair of popular studio mixing tricks. STUDIO mode combines an EQ curve based on the famous ""Pultec Trick"" (used on records since the 1950s and still today) in combination with other tried and true methods to improve clarity. This mode provides a low mid cut to remove ""mud"" frequencies, a gentle presence boost in the upper midrange, and a natural-sounding high pass filter, to reduce low frequency rumble. With this mode, you can achieve a more ""polished"" sound that is intended to fit guitars and basses more clearly in a mix.
- E-PLEX: A recreation of the feel, character, and frequency response of an early 1970s Echoplex tape echo unit. E-PLEX mode offers a vintage-style FET buffer/boost tone that is warm, clear, and a little bit dirty. Many players will turn off the echo of the original Echoplex units and simply use the dry preamp for its tone and feel. ZIO’S E-PLEX circuit has a focus in the midrange without too much brightness or boomy bass.
Another useful feature on the ZIO is the TONE switch. This 3-poistion switch selects between three voicing: BRIGHT, MEDIUM, and DARK. Each position introduces a different level of capacitance and replicates varying lengths of cable. Select the BRIGHT position to introduce a low capacitive load and the most treble content. Select MED and produce the effect of a medium length of cable. Select DARK and produce the effect of a longer or coiled cable, which is great for taming excessive brightness. The TONE Switch options combined with the OUTPUT control provide the consistent performance of a buffer that has the more natural sound of a cable. In other words, a buffer that doesn't sound buffered!
ZIO also has a useful BYPASS/MUTE switch that toggles between two footswitch options. In BYPASS mode, the footswitch behaves as a true bypass switch, which also mutes the signal to OUTPUT 2 when the pedal is bypassed. In MUTE mode, OUTPUT 1 is muted when bypassing the pedal, but OUTPUT 2 remains active. This can be useful if you want to connect a tuner to OUTPUT 2 and thereby eliminate it from the signal chain. This mode is also helpful for muting the signal while switching between instruments.
- Circuit knob with four distinct preamp circuits: JFET (transparent, flat frequency curve), LOW-CUT (cuts lows without affecting mid to high frequencies), STUDIO (replicates “Pultec Trick” equalization), E-PLEX (inspired by the preamp in an vintage Echoplex Tape Delay unit)
- High quality components and Burr Brown JFET op-amps
- Output control with up to +20dB of signal boost
- 3-way Tone toggle switch with bright/medium/dark cable capacitance voicing
- 2-way Footswitch Action toggle switch (with always-on “Mute” option)
- Extra Tuner/Line Output
- True Bypass
- Input Impedance: 1 Mega Ohm (1 MΩ)
- Output Impedance: 150 Ohm (150 Ω)
- Power Consumption: 9V DC center negative @ 20mA
- Brushed anodized aluminum housing
- Dimensions: L: 4.1 in./10.5cm x W: 2.36 in./6cm x H: 2.22 in./5.65cm (including knobs)