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How come even free VSTs often sound better than the effects in cheaper multi effect pedals?

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by NoiseNinja, Dec 30, 2017.


  1. NoiseNinja

    NoiseNinja Experimental-psychedelic-ambient-noise-drone

    Feb 23, 2011
    Denmark
    I noticed something that makes me wonder.

    A lot of the free VSTs I use, to me at least, sound considerably better than what you find in lower end digital multi effect pedals, say the Zoom B3 that I once owned.

    Why is that?

    Does the VSTs typically use more processor power than the processor found in cheaper digital multi effect pedals can handle, or is the programming done on the effects in the cheaper digital multi effect pedals really worse than what you can find on the better free VSTs?
     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2017
  2. Selta

    Selta

    Feb 6, 2002
    Pacific Northwet
    Total fanboi of: Fractal Audio, AudiKinesis Cabs, Dingwall basses
    Two things spring to mind:
    1) Availble CPU power in a laptop or desktop is higher than the cheap multiFX
    2) Latency for VSTs isn't as crucial as it is in multFX pedals, as the typical use case is different (i.e. VSTs/VSTi are mostly used in studio for tracking or post, multiFX are often used lived where any kind of latency is unacceptable)
     
    Korladis and NoiseNinja like this.
  3. NoiseNinja

    NoiseNinja Experimental-psychedelic-ambient-noise-drone

    Feb 23, 2011
    Denmark
    Makes sense.

    I already figured out it could be a case of lacking processor power, but didn't spring to mind that VSTs usually doesn't depend on having to be able to be used in a live setting and therefor can include much more complex calculations, as latency is not really an issue you need to give much thought when programming them.

    Thank you, though I still like to hear from anyone who actually would know for certain if those two factors are indeed what is causing the lower quality of effects in cheaper multi effect units.
     
  4. Snaxster

    Snaxster

    Nov 29, 2008
    In addition to Selta's points, two things:

    Do you listen to the plugins (VST or other) and the pedals using the same equipment? If you listen to plugins in nice headphones or nearfield monitors, but you listen to pedals in instrument amps, then you might perceive them differently.

    Opportunity attracts talent and best efforts. Whoever designed the pedal circuits knew that their designs would be used only in those pedals, of which relatively few ever would be made. But the plugin designers knew that their designs could be replicated indefinitely and used in every computer that supported the plugin architecture, of which there are or will be potentially millions.
     
    NoiseNinja and dralionux like this.
  5. Sunset Shalom

    Sunset Shalom

    May 9, 2016
    I bet CPU power is most of the difference. Also the fact that multi FX don't focus on specific effects like most VST's, there are vst multi FX too but they tend to be more simple and geared towards similar applications like delay/verb or comp/eq.

    [QUOTE="Snaxster, post: 20780934, member: 132132"
    Opportunity attracts talent and best efforts. Whoever designed the pedal circuits knew that their designs would be used only in those pedals, of which relatively few ever would be made. But the plugin designers knew that their designs could be replicated indefinitely and used in every computer that supported the plugin architecture, of which there are or will be potentially millions.[/QUOTE]

    That is a solid point. Pedal designers at least for big companies likely get paid the same either way, with small time builders it's different of course. But VST programmers even if they are free know that the better they design them the more useful the VST's will be, and the more people will use them and possibly donate or buy some of their other software. So they have a lot more incentive to make the best product they can I would imagine. Some VST's are made by big companies but a lot are made by hobbyists it seems, so in a way I think it's more comparable to boutique handmade pedals vs mass produced factory stuff.
     
    Snaxster likes this.
  6. Snaxster

    Snaxster

    Nov 29, 2008
    Ah, true. Thanks. I wasn't thinking of the freeware or donationware cases. Audio plugins isn't really my area of expertise. :D

    Maybe illustrating your point:

    Recently I am resuming the practice of audio synthesis after about nine years away (it's been on and off since the mid-1970s). Though I have nothing against software instruments, the synths have to be all hardware for me. As I do product research I notice that some well-regarded, independent makers have three product lines: hardware, software, and freeware. Surely they wouldn't offer the freeware without either a cultural agenda (giving back to the community) and/or a business motive.
     
  7. Selta

    Selta

    Feb 6, 2002
    Pacific Northwet
    Total fanboi of: Fractal Audio, AudiKinesis Cabs, Dingwall basses
    Freeware is almost always to get you hooked, and allow you to sample a subset of the main offering. The idea being that you like what you hear, and you want the extended options available in the software or even hardware versions. Not too dissimilar to say, going and playing a botique luthier's bass (if you can) before laying down money on a custom build.
     
  8. Sunset Shalom

    Sunset Shalom

    May 9, 2016
    It is with some bigger companies but there is a ton of great 100% free donationware. When I think of freeware I think of programs that are 100% free, what your describing is more like "lite" versions of paid products.

    I spent awhile collecting hundreds of free VST's and the majority are the full versions, with a few demo versions I picked up but I tend to delete them or never use them :greedy:

    I don't use VST's much but I would definitely donate to some of the creators of the best ones. There are some really great programs out that are completely free, some are simple but some are pretty damn complex.
     
  9. ddnidd1

    ddnidd1 Supporting Member

    Plus plugin manufacturers don't have the added cost of a case, electronic components, assembly, etc. so those dollars can be funneled into design and development.

    And inexpensive pedals tend to be played through inexpensive gear and no reasonable person should expect them to sound like anything more than the inexpensive pedals they are.
     
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2017
    Zon master likes this.
  10. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

     
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