PC Effects Processing vs. Floor Multi-Effects

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by JT Foster, Oct 10, 2021.


  1. Floor FX

    18 vote(s)
  2. PC Plugins

    4 vote(s)
  1. JT Foster

    JT Foster

    Dec 27, 2014
    O’Fallon, MO
    So I’m a longtime user of the Zoom B3. I’ve been procrastinating upgrading to the B3n since it came out in 2017, and I think it’s finally time to move on. Fortunately for me, it’s not a pricey upgrade; as the B3 holds pretty good value, even still!

    However, I have also been contemplating consolidating my guitar and bass rig into one via PC plugins instead. I already use BIAS FX on my IPad for guitar tones, using only an IRig and a small powered monitor. I’ve seen many people do similar setups for bass using Neural DSP. This would allow me to have an endless library of tones on one single device, no pedals, for both guitar and bass. I would also invest in a better/larger powered speaker that could handle bass AND guitar tones, essentially allowing me to get rid of my large bass amp. My current 50W monitor doesn’t handle bass very well, especially compared to my Hartke Kickback 12.

    Going digital and buying a computer capable of handling music production, along with buying a Focusrite, and a large high quality studio monitor would be the less cost effective way of upgrading my rig, but would obviously save space. Upgrading to the B3n and running it through my Hartke would probably cost $50. I assume overall sound quality would be the same.

  2. Funky40


    Apr 16, 2021
    you can do that.
    it could turn into a own , maybe a long, journey. Be aware of that.

    I in fact use my computer sometimes to play my Bass roundtrip thru it in realtime.
    I have a specialised setup, using a professional VST-Host.
    This is definitly working ! But: you want to have the right hardware !
    M1mac in my case. And i´d suggest to look to no other than that in case of a new purchase.
    also would you want to have a *really* fast audio interface (AI).
    Ideally a RME AI if on a windows computer.
    i use a presonus quantum2626, which is the most affordable one of the thunderbolt 3 interfaces (with many channels). TB, ideally TB3 is prefered to use for audio on a mac when it comes to super small latencys. Motu M4 seems also worth a look.

    The VST world as such is HUGE ! you will get lost in there anyway.
    But look, pedals are no other, no ?

    also do "you" want to have some manual hardware controls.
    desktop and/or footpedals.
    I found the hardware controls crucial to beeing able to dig to work with VST FX.
    it makes the whole thing feel like hardware as such, while i then, from there, can dig the screen as an additional visual feedback device.

    with a M1mac and a TB/TB3 AI is realtime roundtrip playing definitly doable !
    i personally do my tube preamp sound now with some pedals. Dig that so !
    VST tube preamps/Amps + inbuilt speaker sims tend to add a bit more latency than common VST FX would give. *
    Thats a thing good to know. ( * at least my plugin alliance tube amps do that)
    such "details" can make it then a necessity that you have a as fast as possible AI, so that the total amount of latency is still feeling good to be played in realtime.

    overall: i dig it that i can play now without my computer, having my nice tube pre. But the FX setups i can do in my computer are without any comparison, otherwise. (edit: never had any multi FX floor units / can´t compare )
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2021
    Fernando Costa likes this.
  3. GMC

    GMC Supporting Member

    Jan 1, 2006
    Wiltshire, UK
    Good luck with your journey...for me...I like my effects in a box on a board. No lag, no reboots, no Microsoft moments.
  4. @JT Foster you might take a look at the Zoom GCE3 interface that gives access to most of their multi effects software and includes a copy of Cubase LE. I have been using it with a pc and laptop for several months with great results and sounds on bass, guitar, acoustic and keys.

    GCE-3 | Buy Now
  5. Dave W

    Dave W Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2007
    Westchester, NY
    I voted floor (or rack). A dedicated unit is a little easier to use IMO and if you started gigging or anything like that would be much easier to take to a show.
  6. JT Foster

    JT Foster

    Dec 27, 2014
    O’Fallon, MO
    I’d be fine with no physical pedals, but that does sound pretty time consuming.

    Thanks for the input.
  7. JT Foster

    JT Foster

    Dec 27, 2014
    O’Fallon, MO
    This looks super promising. Thanks for the heads up!
  8. Hummergeist

    Hummergeist Commercial User

    Jul 21, 2020
    Tutorials, reviews, and interviews for Future Publishing.
    At the moment I like pedals or multi fx to get the instrument sounding right at source, then the software comes into play for recording, mixing, and mastering. That is a good division of labour for me.
    vvvmmm likes this.
  9. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol

    The Zoom B6's just out. Just adding to your confusion.

    Sue Haseltine, D.A.R.K. and M0ses like this.
  10. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol

    As for the former question, for all music gear there's a balance to find between practicality and versatility, between learning time and fine tuning. The threshold is different for everyone.
    Speaking for myself, I feel limited by single pedals and overwhelemed by interfaces with computers. Too many possible bugs and not enough idiot proofing.
    Mutlieffects offer me the right balance.
    The Zoom B3 is the best balanced device I have owned so far. I find it more practical to use than the B3n with more practical features. I have yet to try the B6.
  11. RichSnyder

    RichSnyder Columbia, MD Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2003
    For live use, I prefer hardware. Yes, I've had pedals fail on me, but I see computers crash all the time in my line of work and recovery from a dead pedal is a lot easier than waiting for a reboot and hoping everything comes back. In the studio, a "do over" is easy and not as big of a deal. If I played keys, a MacBook and a MIDI controller or two would be tempting for live use.
  12. MCS4

    MCS4 Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2012
    Fort Lauderdale, FL
    Same. If I were playing in a nationally touring band with techs running the computer/tablet (presumably with backups) I could see the appeal, but I've had far too many mishaps with PCs etc. over the years to ever trust one as a key component of my own live rig.
  13. D.A.R.K.

    D.A.R.K. Supporting Member

    Aug 20, 2003
    Both. I use both, and regularly use PC for performance (have for almost 20 years now, jeez) and have had no more issues with PC than the analog systems. Actually, considering how many different things I've used the PC for (from mixing stuff, to effects, to VST host for keys and as a sampler) it has had a lower failure rate.
    Funky40 and DJ Bebop like this.
  14. M0ses


    Sep 11, 2009
    Los Angeles
    I was monitor engineer last Friday night, the opening band's keyboardist brought TWO macbooks for redundancy. All his presets and backing tracks on standby as backup.

    As a player I wouldn't deal with that nonsense on stage for anything. if you have your own staff running your FX from the sidestage, they're gonna do it in a reliable dedicated rack unit, not a laptop.
  15. D.A.R.K.

    D.A.R.K. Supporting Member

    Aug 20, 2003
    Actually, the majority of tour rig run side stage are laptops, run tandem with auto switching in case of failure. I have built these systems for a number of major label artists, and toured with them as crew. The last artist I did this for, Phantogram, never had a failure in 8 years of touring with them.
    Funky40, RJ and DJ Bebop like this.
  16. ThirstyMonkey


    Jun 27, 2011
    It wasn't an option, but my vote is both. I'm a Helix user and so I have the native software, but also have the external hardware. To me, it's the best of both worlds (assuming you're happy with digital effects and modeling). That said, at the end of the day all that matters is works for you in the context in which you are making music.
    D.A.R.K. and DJ Bebop like this.
  17. I remember John McLaughlin was using Macbook and Amplitube for his main live tone directly to FOH, now he went with a little pedal board with one of the three preamps at the top, to FOH.

  18. juggahnaught


    Feb 11, 2018
    Seattle, WA
    These days there isn't really much of a difference. That said, I like a dedicated hardware solution as I personally find that it's easier to gig with and generally more durable. My computer can do what my Helix does, but I'm more comfortable using my Helix for that task.

    If you aren't gigging and you are more budget-conscious, then a computer-based solution could definitely work well.
  19. JT Foster

    JT Foster

    Dec 27, 2014
    O’Fallon, MO
    I think I should probably go in the middle, after hearing what y’all have to say. Thanks for the input!

    If the B6 had an additional Darkglass pedal built into it, I would preorder it right now. As it stands, I’m on the fence about it.
  20. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    Whatever you do in the digital domain, watch out for latency issues - it doesn’t take much to mess up your timing in a live setting.
    D.A.R.K. likes this.