As you’re searching for your proper pedal-board setup (or generally, your sound setup), you might feel super excited by the vast possibilities of multi-effects processors, and then suddenly feel hesitant to buy one.
Why is that? Mostly because, though multi-effects processors pack thousands of dollars worth of pedals into one compact kit, the modelled sounds — being digitally reproduced — haven’t historically sounded quite the same as a real chain of analog fuzz faces, wahs, delays, and the like. In the 90s and 2000s, multi-effects processors were sort of like watching Citizen Kane in 240p, rather than on actual film.
However, you’ve probably heard of Moore’s Law, talking about how electronics are able to get smaller and smaller, packing more of a digital punch every few months. Which no doubt is why computers now are so much faster than the 90s. Fortunately, that same digital benefit has been bestowed upon multi-effects processors; the modelled sounds continously get closer and closer to their analog counterparts.
Nowadays, though pedal purists still have great reason to spurn multi-effects processors, those reasons are diminishing with each year.
If you scroll further below, you’ll see a bunch of recommendations for multi-effects processors which are helping to redefine these machines as actually decent sounding all-in-one rigs, but first here are some different reasons why multi-effects processors might be a great choice for you.
Particularly if you’re newer to the game of pedal alchemy, then multi-effects processors can be a great university of sounds in and of themselves. You can learn the specific delays timings perfect for your new riff, combined with the proper chorus effects, and touch of fuzz to bring it to life. Next, you can emulate certain heads and combos so that your song is quite dialed in.
The great beauty of this system is that, from there, you can have a roadmap for the analog gear you’d like to eventually own, since you’ve got a great sense of what you like and don’t like.
Another great reason to choose a multi-effects processor is for travel. If you’re doing a tour with your friends around the area, you might not want to bring your rig of $2,000 worth of pedals, knowing they could potentially get damaged, lost, or even stolen. Plus, not all of us have an army of roadies to get everything setup by showtime. Because of those factors, having a simple all-in-one multi-effects pedal can be a solution that keeps your blood pressure low on the road.
Of course, perhaps the clearest reason to choose a multi-effects pedal is because, with one pedal, you get multiple effects! For example, with the Boss ME-80, you practically get all the famous sounds they’ve created with their analog pedals. If you were to buy the actual analog pedals, you’d be out thousands of dollars. These multi-effect processors are incredibly economical. In case you’re open to swapping a bit of sound quality for extreme affordability, while getting tons of sonic options, then multi-effects pedals may be a good choice for you.
One other reason that comes to mind to include a multi-effects processor in your rig is that it’s a great backup, or filler, for your analog pedals. In case something happens to almost any of your analog pedals, you can rest assured that — at least for the time being — your multi-effects pedal can step in and fill the sonic gaps. Or, if you’re waiting to add a ring modulator to your setup, in the meantime, your multi-effects pedal can fill in that role as you save up those funds.
Alright! Now, here are some recommendations for multi-effects processors. As always, these suggestions are just meant to get you started in knowing what to look for, as you make your purchase.
Note: After the shortlist of a few recommendations which come to mind, keep scrolling to read about what’s usually included in multi-effects pedals. Hope you find these recommendations helpful!