If you’re looking for a Zoom A3 vs Fishman Aura pedal comparison, check out this post to learn all about these and which might be best for you!
Zoom A3 Pre-Amp Pedal
Zoom Corporation is one of the biggest game-changers in the world of guitar effects.
Over the years, they’ve had some acoustic guitar preamps and effects processors, one of which was A3.
Now discontinued, A3 came as a pedal-size unit with a more or less simplified approach.
Although seemingly simple, this piece came with a variety of tone-shaping options.
Its biggest selling point was the incredible variety of body type models, a total of 16 options.
By plugging in your acoustic guitar, or even an electric one with a piezo, you could give more “depth” and “life” to the tone.
Along with that, A3 is able to emulate 28 exact guitar models.
What’s interesting about the unit is that it has a combo XLR and TS jack.
This means that you can use it with either your guitar’s piezo or a microphone.
Despite its compact size, it has some very useful options and controls.
For instance, there’s also a setting that lets you use it with magnetic pickups.
Then there’s a 3-band EQ, basic level controls, and the dry/wet signal balance.
The last feature is useful, allowing even some subtle tone colorations up to full-blown acoustic modeling.
There’s also a collection of effects, a total of 40, and a USB port for updates.
Plus, it has footswitches for anti-feedback, a simple, clean boost, and one for a tuner.
Overall, it’s a very practical little unit that you can even power with four AA batteries.
It’s a discontinued one, it’s not exactly a high-end pro-tier piece, but it can serve a simple gigging musician.
Fishman is an American company that focuses predominantly on guitar electronics.
These days, they’re one of the biggest players in the magnetic pickup game.
You’ll find some big brands using Fishman as the stock option.
And apart from built-in preamps and piezos for acoustic guitars, they also have the pedal-format preamp for acoustic guitars.
The Aura DI is a simple yet effective modeling and processing unit for acoustic players.
It comes with regular TS input and output, as well as an option to use an effects loop.
The FX look is a bit specific since we’re looking at a single TRS jack, and you’ll need a Y-style cable for this to make it work.
The heart of this pedal lies in two controls in the middle.
One of them is 12 different basic guitar types, while the other toggles between 16 Image presets.
This brings a total of 128 combinations.
Now, these image presets are emulated combinations of body tops and backs, as well as microphones.
It’s what puts more life into your dry piezo signal, along with the 12-way body type switch.
Then we have a 3-band EQ, compressor, volume, and blend controls.
As for foot switches, there’s one for the anti-feedback feature and the other for engaging the tuner.
There’s also a side phase switch that can help with feedback.
To round it all up, a USB port allows you to update the unit and upload instrument Images.
Going Deeper Into It
What’s worth noting is that it’s a pretty advanced unit, despite its seemingly simple appearance.
For instance, its anti-feedback is automatic with three levels.
But all you need to do about it is engage it, and it will do its magic.
It also has an automated ground lift that is engaged when you use the 1/4-inch TS output.
Finally, a “trim” knob allows you to remove all clipping from the input.
The device’s name comes from Fishman’s own Aurora Acoustic Imaging Technology.
These are essentially algorithms that help you get that realistic tone of a micked-up guitar.
Zoom A3 Vs Fishman Aura: Which Is Better?
Now, I have to be honest and say that these aren’t in the same league.
Fishman Aura is a simplified and practical pro-tier tool for musicians.
The tones that you get from it are, in my experience, insanely realistic.
Just plug in your piezo-loaded guitar, and you’ll have 128 different instrument and microphone combinations.
Sure, it doesn’t come with additional effects.
However, it’s specifically focused on acoustic guitar modeling and the very foundations of your tone.
Zoom A3, on the other hand, is more of a mid-tier piece, not to mention that it’s outdated.
Although the processing power is pretty much the same, Fisman Aura does a more realistic representation of guitar types.
That, however, doesn’t mean that A3 isn’t good.
Getting one is a bit of a downside, though, since it’s discontinued.
But if you need a decent acoustic guitar preamp with additional effects, and you can find one easily, you can’t go wrong with it.
But as I said, Fisman Aura is on a new level and worth every dime.
Plus, it’s incredibly practical and easy to use.
What You Also Need to Know About Acoustic Guitar Preamp Pedals
For those not entirely familiar with the concept, these preamp pedals can make a world of difference.
Essentially, a preamp amplifies the basic signal level to a required level for further processing.
Additionally, such pedals are designed to completely re-shape your tone.
It’s where all the EQs and effects are.
Going more into it, I think it’s always better to use a piezo than a mic with these things.
Sure, it might be a controversial take to some, but you can get more consistent results this way.
Additionally, the processing these days has gotten much better.
So having a more consistent input, like a piezo, makes these pedals easier to work with.
To circle back to the A3 vs. Aura debate, the A3 also comes with a mic input.
Although a great thing to have more options here, I’d argue that it’s a bit of a redundant feature especially at the signal processing and modeling level that we are today.
In practice, a simple piezo pickup input can be turned into a realistic-sounding acoustic guitar.
Plus, Fishman is a company that’s at the top of its game.
So Aura would, in my experience, be a much more effective choice in the long run.
Zoom A3 vs Fishman Aura: Conclusion
I hope this article has helped you think through the Zoom A3 vs Fishman Aura and which is right for you!
But I’d like to know what you think!
Let me know in the comments!
And if you want to read more gear comparisons on this blog, check out:
Thanks for the helpful review. I don´t understand why those companies discontinued those pedals or didn’t offer a new version. There should be more of these kinds of pedals on the market. I’m sure the sound of a plugged in piezo is so frustrating for thousands of guitar players.
I’m with you. A plugged-in piezo is very limited, but these pedals opened up the possibilities of that sound!