IK Multimedia Z-Tone Buffer Boost Review

An understated, utilitarian buffer/boost/preamp that can profoundly reshape your tones.



Intuitive and transformative impedance control. Excellent transparent boost. Includes AmpliTube 4.

Feature set might be overkill for some.


IK Multimedia Z-Tone Buffer Boost


Ease of Use:



In its relatively nondescript matte-black aluminum enclosure, the Italy-made Z-Tone Buffer Boost isn’t likely to stoke longing at a glance. But plug one in and you may find its pure utility hard to live without.

But calling the Z-Tone Buffer Boost merely a buffer/boost sells it short. Yes, it offers up to 10 dB of relatively transparent boost and +/- 8 dB of output gain. But it also offers the flexible impedance control from IK’s AXE I/O interface, a feature that can dramatically change the way pickups interact with the rest of your rig. Engineers can write volumes on these esoteric electronic relationships, but the impedance control makes it easy to feel your way to the best match between your guitar and pedalboard—or for that matter, a less ideal match that coaxes unusual but useful tones.

There are switches for accommodating active or passive pickups, as well as for moving between transparent “pure” boost and a more colorful and midrange-y JFET boost. And useful routing options include a balanced XLR output and a link output that mirrors the input so you can route to multiple sources. Add in a full, downloadable version of the AmpliTube 4 modeling application, and the Z-Tone Buffer Boost might be the most flexible pedal value you didn’t know you needed.

Test Gear: Fender Telecaster Deluxe, black-panel Fender Vibrolux

U2’s The Edge and producer Bob Ezrin, Co-Founders of Music Rising, (musicrising.com) have announced Guitar Icons: A Musical Instrument Auction to Benefit Music Rising to take place December 11th, 2021, starting at 10:00 a.m. PST. Hosted by Van Eaton Galleries (vegalleries.com) in Los Angeles, the live and online auction will offer a significant collection of guitars and other music memorabilia by some of the world’s most prominent musicians and friends of Music Rising. The auction will take the charity back to its roots and help support the musicians of the NOLA region after a long period being without income.

Read More Show less

Mystery Stocking is here! These will sell out fast, so don't miss it!

Read More Show less