Updated: Mar 20
Mooer GE200, a compact amp modelling and multi-effects unit for the road-ready guitar players.
The world of guitar effects and amp modellers continues to expand rapidly. Many device developers looking for a place in the sun, and many guitar players searching for the perfect tone. The expansion comes from all the usual suspects and heavy hitters, but also from emerging powerhouses in the field. One of those is Mooer Audio, competent developer of mini pedals, now entering the compact amp modeller and multi-effects ring with all guns blazing.
One of their flagship models, GE200, is the subject of this review. It enters a category where other titans like Headrush Gigboard and Line 6 HX stomp have been fighting for space. It responds to a growing demand for mobility, portability and versatility with great tone.
Why would you want it ?
There's a few scenarios where a compact modeller is handy, and this is why the market is growing so fast:
· As your only source for guitar tone, compact all-in-one, take everywhere. It may be a bit more limited than more advanced and expensive models, but there is no reason why you shouldn't consider a unit like this to be your be all end all device;
· As your Home Recording Studio USB interface if you don’t have one, as you could record your guitar without the need for a separate interface. If all you do is practice your guitar and occasionally record it in your DAW, this could be it;
· As your effects box in your pedalboard, in addition to other pedals. The GE200 doesn't seem to support the 4-cable method, but it could be put in series with other effects you already have;
· Playing live. It has a mode to disable the cabinet simulation in case you want to send one of its outputs directly to a stage amp while performing, and the other output can be sent to the PA system with the cab simulation on.
On the USB front, It will output two channels to your DAW, allowing you to either record the output in stereo if you're using stereo effects, or dual mono with dry and processed versions of the signal. That's correct, you can go to the system menu of the unit and disable the effects in one or both outputs, so you can use it as a DI Box to capture a dry guitar signal alongside the processed one.
Look And Feel + User Interface
The Mooer GE200 is relatively small, probably one of the most compact options out there with an expression pedal - as some others have dropped the expression pedal from their devices to reduce the unit size. It looks really robust, shiny and very well finished. This really stands out from some of the competitors out there, and gives the impression that it can survive the life on the road for quite some time.
There are three foot switches, two for up and down navigation or patch change, and one for control of the looper, tuner, setting tempo of delay effects and such. The expression pedal is small but works well and can be used as a volume control; to control parameters on the effects in the chain; and as a wah pedal as you'd expect. An external expression pedal can be connected and assigned to a second expression function.
The Mooer GE200 sports a colour LCD display which can be used to configure the unit and setup the effects chain. So everything can be configured directly on the unit, as plenty of navigation buttons and switches are provided. It has a cool layout with one LED illuminated button for every effect in the chain which allows you to access each one directly from the front panel, and also allows you to see if it is on or off.
For those who want to do a more thorough setup and don't like fiddly small LCD screens, the best bet is to download and install the free GE200 Studio from their website, which allows you to configure the unit using a Mac or PC. From there you can also edit or crate new presets and patches, as well as download new amp models for the amp block or IR (Impulse Responses) into the cabinet block.
In terms of I/O, as you would expect, you can connect headphones and an auxiliary sound source straight into the unit and jam directly with it. This would be great for practice scenarios where all you want is to grab your guitar and jam with some youtube videos or tunes from your phone, while using your headsets for listening. You can't go full mobile without a generator or a power source though, as the unit does not run on batteries.
Effects and Presets
150 presets were loaded into the unit from the factory, with additional 50 slots empty and ready to use. The presets stem for all kinds of music genres and tastes, and seem properly thought out as the selection of effects, amp and cabinet seem to make sense and have some order. Classic amps such as Marshall JCM800 and Fender Twin Reverb are included in the list, as well as iconic Ibanez Tubescreamer and a plethora of other effects, but the full list is only understood if you download the PDF version of their manual - the onscreen names are just too short and sometimes might not entirely give away what the effect is. OK, yes, we did guess that J800 was the Marshall JCM800. Still good to download the PDF and have the list handy.
While the presets don't have the concept of snapshots or scenes, one could tweak the preset on the fly by using the provided individual effects buttons explained before. Not something you can do with your feet while playing, though, so do prepare your presets in advance and in the order you need them. One way around the lack of snapshots is to make multiple copies of the presets you need and then save each one with different settings and different effects on and off so you can switch between them. Just be aware that preset switching normally re-loads all blocks into the DSP which may create a gap in the sound being heard.
The best results we achieved during our tests were by tweaking some of the hard rock and metal presets and then downloading IRs into their cabinet blocks. The tone is comparable with units from other companies who have been doing this for longer, so good on Mooer Audio for putting the effort - after all the tone is all that matters, isn't it ?
Listen to some of the cool factory presets that come with the unit.
There is a lot of competition in this space out there. We've pinpointed some of the standout features the Mooer GE200 has when compared with others:
· Remarkable look and feel and finishing;
· Expression pedal built in even in such a small unit;
· Robust buttons and plenty of options in the user interface;
· Ability to load new Amps and IRs;
· Good overall sound and usability.
There is room for improvement in these areas:
· Support for 4-cable method;
· Not clear if the USB dry signal is usable for reamping;
· Adding snapshots would be nice.
All in all a great addition to this ever growing universe of modellers, where clever software and digital signal processing seems to be replacing some of the hardware from the past and projecting us into the future.