Back in the days when hardware ruled the world, digital multi-effects units were something of a revolution. Combining multiple effects processors - reverb, delay, chorusing, phasing, etc - in a single unit, these powerful devices put all manner of useful sound-shaping tools within financial reach of the average home studio user.
Today, with access to effects in the software DAW being essentially limitless, multi-effects plugins serve a rather different purpose, bringing their component processors together in a more creative, ‘blended’ kind of way. From virtual guitar racks to wild contraptions for adventurous sound design, here are eight of the best.
For the full 'Sound design with multi-effects' feature, get the March 2019 edition of Computer Music (opens in new tab).
1. Soundtoys Effect Rack
Stack up and save/load any combination of Soundtoys 5 effects within this faux wood-clad interface. You can also pipe the entire output back into the input for wild feedback effects.
2. Unfiltered Audio Byome
With over 40 effects modules on tap, most cribbed from Unfiltered’s other creative effects, this modular playground encourages the patching of some ace processors and modulators.
3. Softube OTO Biscuit
Modelled on a boutique digital effects box, this sequencer-driven processor for Universal Audio’s UAD-2 and Apollo DSP systems combines 8-bit crushing, waveshaping and analogue-modelled filtering.
4. Native Instruments Molekular
Developed in partnership with Zynaptiq, this modular signal-processor lets you set up a custom combo of 35 signal processors and 16 mod sources, then morph between four global ‘states’.
5. Sugar Bytes Looperator
If complex rhythmic effects are your thing, this step-powered multi-effect and sequencer offers slicing, looping, timestretching, filtering, glitching and more.
6. Dmitry Sches Tantra
Sequence two independent lines of up to six individual effects (Glitch, Lo-Fi, Flanger, Filter, Distortion and Delay), then apply master EQ and reverb.
7. Kilohearts Multipass
This supremely talented multi-effect gives you the ability to create up to five frequency bands of Snapin effects modules, complete with modulation.
8. Native Instruments Guitar Rig 5
Although it’s primarily a guitar processor (duh!), there’s nothing stopping you from piping your synths and beats through the 54-strong collection of modules.