Choosing a Multi-Effects Processor: Good, Better and Best Recommendations
Multi-effects processors offer great value and variety for beginners and are compact and portable for the touring pro. We have chosen our four favorite multi-effects processors from Digitech, BOSS and Line 6, which range in price from $99 to about $999 and offer great features for players of all levels.
All of the multi-effects processors we carry come with dozens of different preset effects, as well as the ability to alter and store changes to any of them. All include a mute/floor tuner as well. Things to consider when differentiating between Good, Better and Best multi-effects processor options include whether you will need any or all of the following features…
Roadworthiness — If you are a frequent performer you will want to invest in either the DigiTech RP360XP, Boss ME-80 or Line 6 Helix LT in order to get a metal chassis that will stand up to wear from frequent use. If this is a first effects pedal that you will use primarily for fun, for practice, for effects experimentation or even occasional gigging, then durability is not an issue and the DigiTech Element XP pedal with plastic casing will suffice.
Pedalboard layout — Live performance, depending on your musical style and effects usage technique, may require that you access numerous effects in musical time during the course of a single tune. If you perform and use numerous effects or effects in combination, consider getting the Boss ME-80 or Line 6 Helix LT, both of which have a pedalboard-like layout and stomp box controls that put multiple different effects types and the ability to combine them at your feet with on/off foot switching control. Using a multi-effects for fun in the home or practice studio, on the other hand, does not really require that you be able to access many different patches or effects combinations at once and therefore either of the DigiTech pedals should be sufficient.
USB output — If you want the ability to do recording projects on your computer without having to invest in a separate computer recording interface device, you will want USB output, found in the DigiTech RP360XP, Boss ME-80 and Line 6 Helix LT multi-effect pedals.
Phrase looping — Looping is the ability to record yourself live and have immediate playback of your track for layering and self-accompaniment. Complex looping performance requires a separate loop station pedal, but the DigiTech RP360XP, Boss ME-80 and Line 6 Helix LT all include foot-controlled looper functions that work nicely for more basic looping performances.
What makes the DigiTech Element XP a good entry-level effects processor?
- It has lots of presets so that a first-time effects user can experiment right out of the box.
- Plenty of writable patches let you create and save tons of your own effects recipes.
- The expression pedal lets you control volume or play with wah and pitch shifting!
What makes the DigiTech RP360XP a better pedal than the Element XP?
- The metal chassis make it tougher and more durable.
- The grid-style graphic interface is easier to use for effects programming.
- USB outputfor editing tones via DigiTech's included Nexus software or computer recording with almost any recording software or digital audio workstation.
What makes the BOSS ME-80 a better pedal than the DigiTech RP360XP?
- Simply put, it's the ME-80's pedalboard-style layout that makes it a superior user experience. Individual knobs for each parameter make quick, on-the-fly tone adjustments possible.In Manual mode you can use the 8 stomp box buttons to turn on/off and combine your preamp, EQ/FX2, Reverb, Compression/FX1, Modulation, and Delay effects. The expression pedal can easily be set to control volume, wah, pitch shifting or the level of any given effect that is in use.
In Memory mode the bottom row of pedals let you instantly call up any one of 4 saved tone patches from a selected bank--great for switching sounds mid-performance.
What makes the Line 6 Helix LT the best multi-effects option?
- The Helix LT does everything that the others do and in most cases better and slicker. The UI is easy to work with either on the pedal itself or through included software. Best of all, the Helix LT lets you chain individual effects in any order you wish, making it the closest thing to a traditional pedal board that we carry, except with the Helix you get way more great sounding effects for less money and you don't have to worry about connecting and powering a bunch of individual pedals. The Helix is the most professional and performance-friendly multi-FX option we offer!