What are Multi-Effect Racks & Processors
Effects processors are extremely powerful pieces of kit. With various adjustable knobs and inputs, they are the perfect device for not only creating truly unique guitar sounds, but also precise fine-tuning to nail down that elusive killer lead tone! However, to really get to grips with the power and flexibility offered by an effects processor can require a good deal of patience, and an understanding of how a multi-effects pedal works. At first they may seem a little overwhelming, but a multi-effect rack or floor processor can quickly become a guitarist’s best friend. This is one of the reasons they are often seen on stage or in the studio with the world’s most talented guitar players!
Processing & Altering Guitar Sounds
Practically all multi-effects processors you’ll find at Nevada Music are digital - this means that they work in a similar way to a computer. First, your guitar signal is converted into digital information that the processor can manipulate. You then use the interface (knobs, buttons and expression pedals) to control how the DSP (Digital Signal Processing) effects your sound, and once this has happened, your guitar sound is converted back into analog - the same thing you’d get out of a traditional effects pedal. This happens in a fraction of a second - so quickly that it’s virtually impossible to detect.
This all sounds very complicated, and a few years ago all this digital conversion degraded the quality of your guitar sound. As a result, many people have a negative view of digital effects processors - however, the good news is that in recent years, technology has advanced greatly! The same quality as a traditional effects pedal can now be achieved, but in a single unit that is both extremely easy to use and is available at a low price.
Each processor has a different specification, giving you access to a wide selection of preset options as well as different customisable effects. You can combine spatial effects such as Delay, Chorus and Reverb with modulation and distortion effects like Wah, Chorus, Overdrive and Fuzz, with adjustable settings for each. These combinations can then be saved to a preset, putting any guitar sound you can dream up just a stomp away - doing away with the impossible dance moves required by traditional single-effect pedals!
Grouping Processors in a Rack
For more advanced effects users and pro musicians, many effects can be rack-mounted – for example, the Line 6 POD HD Pro. This kind of equipment can be made tour-proof if mounted in a flight case - essential for touring bands and session musicians who rely on their gear for a living! There are rack-mountable versions of many effects -not only digital multi-effects, but even some analogue stomp boxes also come in 19” rack format.
Rack-mounted versions also often feature upgraded power supplies for reliable worldwide operation, and even MIDI input and output so that they can be operated from a dedicated MIDI controller at the front of the stage – this can make a very complex FX setup extremely simple to perform with, and delivers an excellent solution for controlling many effects units at once.
Complex & Intuitive Hardware
For those of us who aren’t John Petrucci or Jonny Greenwood yet, thankfully top manufacturers like TC Electronic and ENGL provide tonnes of power – more than most gigging musicians would ever need - in one compact effects unit that can be controlled easily. Top of the range multi-effects units are still far more cost-effective than buying an array of individual pedals, and with technology improving constantly, digital effects processors are now capable of creating sounds and effects that would be impossible to achieve with old-school analog effects.
Indeed, much time and effort has been spent on getting these digital processors to re-create the characteristics of classic pedals, making them true to the great guitar sounds we all know and love, whilst offering new possibilities and pushing the boundaries of what’s possible with a guitar, both in the studio and during on-stage performances.
If you’re in search of for that perfect guitar sound without breaking the bank, and are willing to invest a few hours into mastering a multi-effects processor, then you may have found just what you’re looking for – all that remains is to check out the different models available, and decide which one is most appealing to you!
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4 Jun '09