The 7 Best Multi-Effects Guitar Processor Pedals
This article is my definitive list of the seven 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 in both a studio and a live case. I have used each of these pedals on this list and reviewed them on my YouTube channel. 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?
A Multi-effects pedal processor is an all-in-one device that incorporates many effects in one unit. These can be a CPU-driven effects pedal or 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 the explanation above. This article has been updated as of Feb 3, 2023.
Are Multi-Effects Pedals worth it?
If you are asking if multi-effects pedals are worth it – the answer is “it depends.” For guitarists or bassists wanting a simplified recording tool, then yes. The answer is no for those wanting a true analog experience for live playing.
Digital modeling multi-effects pedals take a while to learn. However, once you dial them, you can easily recall presets and saved settings. If this sounds like the right tool for the job, then it’s a good way to go.
Guitarists who prefer a more analog experience may find multi-effects pedals a tad on the confusing or irritating side when it comes to functionality.
1. The Headrush Pedalboard
The Headrush is arguably the best all-in-one multi-effects pedal out there. There are several 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 ease of editing means if you need to tweak an effect like distortion, for example. You won’t spend 5 minutes trying to work out how.
Thanks to the intuitive hardware keys, the settings can be adjusted with the touchscreen LED panel and your foot.
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. Instead, you use the Headrush to create your sound. So if you have a sound that 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.
2. Kemper Profiler Stage
The Kemper profiler stage might be the ultimate solution for someone who wants to get “their sound.” The stage can capture your favorite signal chains like the Kemper head and rack units.
One of the massive advantages of the Kemper product lines is they will capture the entire signal chain. So if you have an amplifier, pedal, and sound you love when you play live, then the Kemper is 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. So 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. But, again, 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? Unfortunately, no, and you don’t have to. The great thing about the Kemper is it makes its 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 wouldn’t say I like many of their amplifiers. What Line 6 does well is its pedal range, its old audio interfaces, and now its Helix range of products.
The Helix is easily 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. Like the Headrush, the Helix can be used straight to a PA system or your favorite amplifier.
Another huge advantage to the Helix is much like many 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 as easy as with the Headrush, but it’s close. The touchscreen functionality is a huge bonus as well.
The Helix is a decent solution if you are considering replacing your entire board with a solid multi-effects pedal. In my opinion, the Line 6 Helix shines in a direct PA situation.
In my experience with the Helix, the simpler you keep the banks or effects, the better the results. The same can also be said for the rest of the units on the list.
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. 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 has basically all of the same technology inside it. With the smaller size, though, do come some limitations.
Let’s start with what is great about the Hotone Ampero. First, the touchscreen interface makes this a much easier unit to use than the Mooer GE-200 (below). The Ampero sounds great going into a sound card or PA system. Third, the Build quality of the Ampero is amazing. This is a premium product; 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. Ampero’s three analog controls on the front are a huge benefit. 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 like those units!
In terms of third-party IRs, you have no issues importing them to the Ampero, making this little unit quite the powerhouse. However, 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 many 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 seen on a unit up until now. The Ampero is a total beast.
You can read the best comprehensive review of the Hotone Ampero here.
5. Mooer GE200
So I already mentioned the GE200 a few times in this article as a comparison, and here I think it’s a good unit. Yes! You have a series of hardware keys instead of the touch screen that you find on the more expensive units. 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 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 several times in a live situation direct to a PA system. What I found worked best for me was to keep the GE200 similar to my actual pedal and amplifier lineup. So I would choose the Fender-style amps and cabs and load up a Tubescreamer or Klon as my main dirt pedal.
I made three presets that worked well for me. Each preset had more gain and volume than the last, and the third added some delay. This worked extremely well for solo and rhythm tones with just a button click. Of course, editing on the fly is possible, but it’s also one of the weaknesses of any multi-effects processor pedals.
One small limitation of the Mooer GE200 is the lack of XLR outputs. Sadly, they are not included, but you get stereo line outputs that do the job just fine. I always prefer the XLR outputs on any device. A device that comes way cheaper than the Hotone Ampero 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.
6. Mooer GE300
The GE300 is Mooers’ premium multi-effects process pedal. It has 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 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’ instead of trying to recreate it using something else. Capturing your guitars allows you to swap between guitars and 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 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 regarding functionality when playing live. In addition, it has a very analog feel and looks, making it appeal to common 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 of 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 units, 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 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 regarding sound quality and usability. If you are new to any of these types of Multi-effects processor pedals, 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 debatable and comes down to your taste. These are seven great choices if you want to record directly to a sound card or use them in a PA system without an amplifier. My recommendation is always to try before you buy.
Please consider clicking the links provided in this post if you know what you are looking for. I put a lot of effort into this article and hope it was helpful.