Choosing a Multi-Effects Processor: Good, Better and Best Recommendations

Choosing a Multi-Effects Processor: Good, Better and Best Recommendations - Electric Violin Shop

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 Mooer, Zoom, BOSS, and Line 6, which range in price from $139 to over $1,000 and offer great features for players of all levels.

View all multi-effects processors in our catalog.

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 — Avid giging and touring can be punishing on your equipment. If you're taking the effects unit outside your studio often, consider investing in one of the more premium pedals such as the Boss or anything from the Line 6 Helix collection. These have metal chassis that will stand up to wear from frequent use. That said, 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 either the Mooer GE100 or Zoom A1X Four 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-90 or aLine 6 Helix, 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 — While multi-effects pedals are great for the number of effects they contain, editing patches on the units themselves can often be a pain in the neck. Many multi-FX pedals have USB connectivity and come with accompanying software that lets you edit sounds on your computer rather than through the more tedious menus on the unit itself. Also, 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. Of the multi-FX pedals we currently offer, only the Mooer GE100 does not offer USB. Line 6, BOSS me-90, and Zoom A1X Four all include a USB output.

Phrase looping — Looping is the ability to record yourself live and have immediate playback of your track for layering and self-accompaniment. All the multi-FX pedals we currently offer include foot-controlled looper functions that work nicely for more basic looping performances. The BOSS me-90 and Zoom A1X Four's phrase recording length are on the shorter side--38 and 30 seconds, respectively--while the Mooer GE100 offers up to 180 seconds (that's A LOT). The Line 6 Helix loop function offers 60 seconds in mono or 30 seconds in stereo. Really though, very few loop applications require more than a 30 second phrase, and if you're pursuing more complex and longer looping, a dedicated loop station pedal is a great investment that works hand-in-hand with a multi-FX pedal.


What makes the Mooer GE100 and Zoom A1X Four good entry-level effects processors?

  • They 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.
  • Their expression pedals let you control volume or play with wah and pitch shifting effects!

How can I choose between the Mooer GE100 and the Zoom A1X Four?

  • Do you need or prefer USB connectivity for patch editing and/or recording into DAW software? Then go with the Zoom A1X Four. If it doesn't matter, you can opt for either pedal, as they do a lot of similar things, effects-wise.
  • If you're mainly focused on honing more acoustic-sounding tones and/or like the idea of using your instrument to create a thick sounding string section, the Zoom A1X Four is probably the pedal for you. It is, afterall, an acoustic multi-FX pedal, with many acoustic-specific tone options. It also has a special Strings patch that sort of simulates string section sound, which is great for pads or for covering a string section arrangement in a song.
    The Mooer GE100 is more of a traditional guitar-based multi-FX, with more of a focus on guitar-style tones and distortion effects, which can be tons of fun and very useful for anyone who is new to effects processing.


What makes the BOSS ME-90 better than the Zoom and Mooer pedals?

  • The metal chassis make it tougher and more durable.
  • Simply put, it's the ME-90'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 pedals our best multi-effects option?

  • The Helix pedals do everything that the others do and in most cases better, and slicker.
  • The user interface is easy to work with either on the pedal itself or through included software.
  • The Helix pedals can load IR's (impulse responses), which can transform your electric tone into that of a real life acoustic instrument, or simulate real guitar amp cabinits or musical spaces, such as specific rooms or concert halls.
    *IR patches can be created or purchased online, but do not come with the Helix units.
  • Best of all, the Helix 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!

Watch videos about multi-FX pedals:

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