The 7 Best Multi-Effects Guitar Processor Pedals
This is my list for the 7 best multi-effects processor pedals. This list will take into account several different situations of use. I will review these items based on their functionality both in a studio or in a live situation. Each of these units I have either extensively tested, used live, or had a hands-on interaction with. Each of these 7 Multi-effects guitar processor pedals has its pros and cons for various reasons.
What is a Multi-Effects Guitar Processor Pedal?
For those new to these pedals. A Multi-effects pedal processor is an all in one device that incorporates many effects in one unit. These can be in the form of a CPU driven effects pedal or in something that can appear more analog in design but with a digital brain.
The 7 Best Multi-Effects Guitar processor pedals I have chosen for this list all fall into this explanation above.
1. The Headrush Pedalboard
The headrush is arguably the best all in one multi-effects pedal out there. There are a number of reasons this is true. The first reasons are the unit is very functional in both a live and studio situation.
Some of the many positives of why the Headrush works for live players is it’s easier to edit sounds on the fly. This means if you need to tweak an effect like distortion, for example, you won’t spend 5 minutes trying to work out how.
Each of settings can be adjusted not only with the touch screen LED panel but also with your foot thanks to the intuitive hardware keys.
The Headrush also supports third-party IR loading. This means you can import your favorite Celestion speaker IRS or any other effects you have IRS for.
One of the downsides of the Headrush over something like the Kemper is that this does not profile your actual sound. You use the Headrush to create your own sound. If you have a sound you love then go for the Kemper.
The build quality of the Headrush is spectacular. I remember the first time I held it in my hand thinking, “This is built like a tank”. This is and also feels like a very premium product. Headrush got this right.
Check it out on Sweetwater | Thomann
2. Kemper Profiler Stage
The Kemper profiler stage might be the ultimate solution for someone who wants to get “their sound”. Much like the Kemper head and rack units, the stage can be used to capture your favorite signal chains.
One of the massive advantages of the Kemper product lines is they will capture the entire signal chain. If you have an amplifier, pedal, and sound you love when you play live, then the Kemper is the best of the best at replicating it.
Another huge advantage of the Kemper Profiler Stage is it comes loaded with the same software you get with other Kemper units. You’ll be able to add hundreds of effects to your “captured” tone and layer it up with whatever you like.
The build quality of all Kemper products is fantastic. You are buying a piece of German engineering. I have had my Kemper rack unit for a few years now and it continues to work perfectly.
Can you import third-party Impulse responses No and you don’t have to. The great thing about the Kemper is it makes its own impulse responses separating it from the other units on this list.
If you don’t have an amplifier and tone you love, then maybe go for something else on this list. If you love your sound, the Kemper is for you.
Check it out on Sweetwater
3. The Line 6 Helix
One of the strengths of Line 6 has been any other products than their amplifiers. That statement might shock some readers, but I can’t stand a lot of their amplifiers. What Line 6 does really well is their pedal range, their old audio interfaces, and now their Helix range of products.
The Helix is arguably the best product Line 6 has ever made! I used to own one of the M13 pedals and the Helix is light years ahead of those older units.
One of the major strengths of the Line 6 Helix is it sounds great in a live situation but is also a fantastic studio tool. Much like the Headrush, the Helix can be used straight to a PA system or directly to your favorite amplifier.
Another huge advantage to the Helix is much like many of the other units in this article you can import third-party IRs. This allows you to shape the sound using official or created impulse responses.
If you are a live player the Helix is one of the most functional units on the list. Editing sounds on the fly might not be quite as easy as with the Headrush, but it’s close. The touch screen functionality is a huge bonus as well.
If you are thinking of replacing your entire board with a solid multi-effects pedal the Helix is a decent solution. In my opinion, the Line 6 Helix shines in a direct to PA situation.
In my experience with the Helix, the more simple you keep the banks or effects the better the results. The same can said for the rest of the units on the list also.
The build quality of the Helix is great. While I don’t think it feels as robust as the Headrush it’s not far behind it. I couldn’t foresee any issues using this at gigs over and over. It will stand the test of time.
Check it out on Sweetwater
4. Hotone Ampero
The Hotone Ampero is a beast. It might be the best ‘bang for the buck’ unit on this list in many ways. One of the huge advantages is its form factor. The Hotone Ampero is smaller than the Helix and it has basically all of the same technology inside it. With the smaller size though, does come some limitations.
Let’s start with what is great about the Hotone Ampero. The touch screen interface makes this a much easier unit to use than say the Mooer GE-200 (below). The Ampero sounds great going into a sound card or PA system. The Build quality of the Ampero is amazing. This is a really premium product and you can tell as soon as you pick it up.
One of the common limitations of almost every unit on this list is live playing functionality. Using the Ampero in a live situation requires you to understand the unit quite well and how to tweak the presets as required. A huge benefit of the Ampero is the 3 analog controls on the front. The benefit of these three controls is you can adjust things a lot easier than on the GE-200 for example. I am not picking on the GE-200 either. I really like those units!
In terms of third-party IR’s, you have no issues importing them to the Ampero making this little unit quite the powerhouse. After using the Ampero for a few weeks I feel this is best suited to someone who is either required to play directly to a PA system or a home studio musician wanting to record quietly.
Unlike a lot of other multi-effects units of its size, the Ampero features 2 x XLR outputs. These balanced outputs are a very welcomed addition to the effects pedal.
The Expression pedal on the ampero has the best grip-tape I have ever seen on a unit up until this point. All things considered, the Ampero is a total beast.
You can read the best comprehensive review of the Hotone Ampero here.
Check it out on Sweetwater
5. Mooer GE200
So I mentioned the GE200 a few times in this article already as a comparison and here it is and do I think its a good unit? Yes! In place of the touch screen that you find on the more expensive units, you have a series of hardware keys. These keys allow easy access to each effect.
This tactile feel allows for a really pleasant experience. While a touch screen would have been a welcomed addition the GE200 interface is actually quite intuitive. Each option can be edited thanks to the ‘value’ dial on the right. They made this control huge so it’s nice and easy to find and use.
I used this unit a few times in a live situation direct to a PA system. What I found worked best for me was to simply keep the GE200 as similar to my actual pedal and amplifier line up. I would choose the Fender style amps and cabs and load up a Tubescreamer or Klon as my main dirt pedal.
I made 3 presets that worked really well for me. Each of the presets had more gain and volume than the last and the third also had some delay added. This worked extremely well for solo and rhythm tones with just a click of a button. Editing on the fly is possible but it’s also still one of the weaknesses of any of the multi-effects processor pedals.
One small limitation of the Mooer GE200 is the lack of XLR outputs. Sadly, they are not included but you do get a stereo line outputs that do the job just fine. I always prefer the XLR outputs on any device. For a device that comes in way cheaper than the Hotone Ampero, it will give you the same exact sounds with just a small downgrade in functionality.
Much like the rest of the units in this review, the GE200 also allows for third party impulse response importing.
Check it out on Thomann
6. Mooer GE300
The GE300 is Mooers’ premium multi-effects process pedal. The has some huge advantages over the GE200, the Ampero, The Helix, and the Headrush! Yes, you didn’t read that incorrectly. The GE300 will do something most of these multi-effects pedal processors will not do.
While you have all the effects you could possibly want already installed into the GE300 it will also allow you to capture tones. This means, much like the Kemper, you can profile real-world gear! This opens up a world of opportunity for live players and studio musicians who want ‘Kemper-like’ functionality, at a more affordable price.
This capture mode can be used on guitars, effects, and cabinets. This means you can create your own IRs and use them to get ‘your sound’ as opposed to trying to recreate it using something else. Being able to capture your guitars allows you to swap between guitars and also nail the tone of another guitar in your arsenal. It has the same technology found in the Mooer Tone Capture GTR.
The Mooer GE300 is not a cheap item. The build quality is premium, we get 2 x XLR outputs on it, and it feels like a million bucks in the hand.
Check it out on Thomann
7. NUX Cerberus Multi-Effects Pedal
So this unit is maybe the odd-man-out on this list. While it’s not your traditional looking multi-effects pedal processor it does have a LOT of digital functionality.
The Cerberus is miles ahead of everything on this list in terms of functionality when playing live. It has a very analog feel and looks to it which makes it appeal to regular analog effects pedals fans.
Don’t let the exterior fool you though. The NUX Cerberus can be connected to a computer for editing and arranging the internal effects. Since the latest firmware update, the Cerberus is even more powerful.
Another key feature on the Cerberus is the speaker simulated output. This means you can get good tones going direct to a PA system. Notice though, I didn’t say “great tones”. One of the limitations of the Cerberus is it won’t be as customizable as anything else on this list when it comes to direct to PA/Audio interface recording or playing.
The NUX Cerberus works best straight into a good old fashioned amplifier and becomes more like the pedals you might be used to in the analog world. I believe the NUX Cerberus is the best analog-style multi-effects pedal processor on the market. I have tried over 20 all in one unit and the Cerberus is the king of the pile.
In a live situation, there’s nothing better than just being able to edit and effect by crouching down and changing it. This saves having to go into menus or having to hook it up to a computer because no one has time for that.
Multi-Effects Pedal Processors Wrap Up
Finding the perfect Multi-effects processor pedal can be a daunting task. The good news is there’s so much common ground between them all. All of the units on this list stand out in terms of sound quality and usability. If you are new to any of these types of Multi-effects processor pedals then you will have a slight learning curve ahead of you.
Will any or all of these units replace the need for traditional pedals in a live situation? That’s really debatable and comes down to your own personal taste. If you want to record direct to a sound card or use them into a PA system without an amplifier these are 7 great choices to consider. My recommendation is to always try before you buy.
If you know what you are looking for please consider clicking through to the links provided in this post. I put a lot of effort into this article and I hope it was helpful.