Desktop multi effects

Hi all.

I am looking for ways to mangle sounds. Ambient background loops to play piano over. The remaining gear I have (Analog Four and Digitakt) are doing ok on their own but with help could be more - fluffy. Filled. Softer.

I could build a modular effects rack but modular ain’t cheap. Although if there is a multi effect module that can layer effects feel free to shout about it. I was thinking a multi effect guitar pedal but they always seem to sound a bit digital/nasty. Maybe it’s the bad demos.

I’m happy to have old/used/new. I’m
Happy for rack mount as it’ll just have an Elektron box sat on top. I’m happy with left field thinking.

Help me out. How can I get nice reverb/granular/vinyl/delay mess etc?


I have a Mod Duo X, which is one of those new breed all in one pedals. I’m a big fan and the hardware is very nice. It allows you to create some really bonkers fx chains, as well as having cv tools, and ports of things like Dexed, Tal Noisemaker etc.

It can run as two independent things as well, so an fx chain and a synth with the two outs being allocated respectively.

Another box for your consideration, is the poly Beebo /Digit. Again, in the same vein as the above and similar pedals, but with a touchscreen.

There’s two to get you started!

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I like my Korg NTS-1. You can run external gear through its three effect chain (Chorus, Delay and Reverb). The built in effects sound great to me for the price and it’s also programmable. I see Sinevibes make this granular reverb which looks great in the demo, I haven’t tried it yet. You get a fun monosynth for the price too!


Norns/Norns Fates/Norns Shield is an excellent choice. @21echoes Pedalboard has a ton of fx modules you can stack together, reverb, tape emulation, lofi delay, and has built in modulation. There are high quality stand alone fx like @Justmat Pools and Phyllis. Lots of different loopers, and strange stuff like @speakerdamage’s Tunnels.


I’ve been enjoying running synths into the NTS-1 while tweaking the various FX of an evening and can attest that they are quite excellent, especially some of the user creations that came loaded into my second-hand unit.

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I have the same problem. I have Analog Keys, Octatrack and Digitakt. I could use some kind of effect unit. Besides the above mentioned there is Empress Zoia. And considering Norns - there is also Orac - you can chain effects and there is a little more interesting choice than in guitar pedals. Although it’s great , it’s a little tricky with limited control and menu depth.

I was also thinking about building a small modular system - e.g. Clouds, Warps etc - 64hp max but I’m afraid I will be more busy buying and arranging modules than making music:)


Get a cheap iPad and a cheap audio interface. There are boatload of amazing effects and audio tools such as AUM give you so many ways to route them. This approach has worked well for me for many years now.


NTS-1 ordered. Seems like fun and dirt cheap until I figure this out. Thanks for the responses so far, looking forward to seeing what else is suggested. :slight_smile:


I tried it but cannot use touchscreens for anything other than my phone. I have an increasing hatred for them.


It’s both of these things and more; the only real negative is that it can’t save patches, but hey ho!

I’d like to mention the the Zoom MS-70cdr .
I have one and actually I want another one. Really great for ambient FX. The reverbs on it aren’t that great that’s the downside. But most other FX are quite good.
I stack loads of delays on top of each other out to get really great ambient FX.


This is currently in the chain NTS-1 (in synth mode) > Norns > MS-70CDR and it’s equally fantastic. A bit familiar, maybe, but generally well worth getting hold of (and also stereo).

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The Poly Effects Beebo constantly forces me to exert some self-control. Not cheap, but pretty robust.


I know @ttasselm can attest to this, but I find that the Line 6 HX Stomp is on the the most versatile pieces of gear on my desktop. As an FX unit, audio IO and “resampling software instruments into hardware gear” unit.


I’m going to suggest a worm hole that may lead to modular lol. But I would suggest taking a good look at some pedals. so many are coming out all the time it is hard to keep with but pedals can get there no problem. some to consider

Count to 5
echo degrader
Chase Bliss anything
Cooper FX
GameChanger Audio
Folktek Gardens and alter pedals
electrosmith Diasy

My final answer to this question is usually a COCOQUANTUS


Did anyone recommend Octatrack yet? It can do all the things. Otherwise computers are amazing, you just have to shape the ergonomics to suit you.


In my experience, a combination of different, hands-on effects/pedals can lead to more interesting results than the one box that covers everything. Personally, I find a mixer indispensable for playing with sends and feedback, but obviously from that point on the setup easily spirals out of control. If I had to use a single desktop effect, it would always be the Eventide Space. I hate to recommend expensive stuff, but the Space has some essential algorithms for otherworldly spatial effects.

My main delay is a Boss DD-5 going into a TouellSkouarn Ar Merc’het Brao stereo filter. I am always amazed by the timbres and textures this combination produces. As mentioned, I am using an Eventide Space for reverb. Can’t get enough of ModEchoVerb! My character machine, mostly used for its crude pitch shifting, is the Yamaha REX50. It’s basically the desktop version of the SPX90 and it delivers that 80s crunch like nothing else.

I’ve recently done a few videos that show this setup in use: Textures, Gestures on IGTV – Outtakes and Explorations from the Studio


A mixer is my next big purchase. I’m struggling to route audio now.

How about an SP-404?
It would be pretty easy to use for playback and mangling of your ambient background loop to play piano over


Although it is a Eurorack module, the Synthesis Technology E520 takes both modular and line-level signals, so it is perfectly happy in a non-modular environment (& is also handy for converting between line levels and modular levels). It fits nicely in a Pod 64x so you can use it as a standalone desktop fx unit. Although it’s pricey, I think it’s well worth the cost given how much it can do – and it also contains two full-featured loopers (one standard and one spectral). In addition, it has internal LFOs so you don’t have to have a modular system to use its modulation.