Modulation is often what makes a guitar tone stand out. In the old days, guitarists experimented with unusual effects and ways of getting that little extra. One trick was to plug a guitar into a rotating speaker cabinet, which was designed for organs. In this review we’ll look at a new addition to the world of modulation and rotary pedals. The Micro Vent 122 from Neo Instruments.
David Gilmour has been using rotary cabinets since the very early days. His solo creation on Pink Floyd’s Ummagumma, Narrow Way, feature a Leslie speaker cabinet and from the recording of Dark Side of the Moon in 1972-73, the effect became pretty much a staple in his rig.
Read more about David Gilmour’s rotating speaker cabinets here.
Neo Instruments should be well known for everyone. Their Ventilator has become almost an industry standard when it comes to rotating speaker simulation in pedal form. A lot has happened over the last decade and the technology has come a long way. Companies like Strymon and even digital simulations from IK Multimedia sound very impressive.
The newly released Micro Vent is my first introduction to Neo Instruments. The Micro is, as the name implies, a smaller pedalboard friendly version of the considerably bigger Ventilator and, I must admit, much more appealing to me as a touring musician.
There are two versions. The 122, which is based on the Leslie 122 and the 16, which is based on the Fender Vibratone. I’m reviewing the 122.
Obviously, you can’t fit everything into a smaller TC Electronic sized enclosure. The Micro Vent is packed with features controlling the speed (of the horn), ramp (time of acceleration), distance (mic position) and blend (effect mix). There’s also a mini toggle for different speeds and the bypass switch also act as a slow/fast speed control.
There’s a lot going on under the hood too, with several secondary features on the controls. See neo-instruments.com for more.
It would be nice to have some built in overdrive. That’s where the magic of a Leslie often lies. Still, you can easily add your favourite overdrive pedal in front of the Micro Vent for an even better result.
The Micro Vent is based on the 122 Leslie speaker cabinet. Like the Strymon Lex, the Vent has that woody tremolo character although slightly more watery. If that makes sense. There’s a bit more swirl and chorus going on, which perhaps is not as accurate towards a physical Leslie, in my opinion, but just what you want for your Gilmour tones considering he’s probably best known for using the Yamaha RA200 cabinets in the late 70s and early 80s. These were indeed much more chorusy.
The slow mode has a nice 3D character even with the pedal only offering mono. Lovely for those later Beatles and early Clapton tones. The fast rotary sound nicely focused and again almost 3D-like.
The big challenge with David Gilmour’s tones in mind is whether the pedal blends well with high gain effects. He would split the dry mono signal from his pedalboard into the Hiwatts and the rotary cabs, which were mixed slightly lower for that hint of modulation.
The blend and distance controls allow you to finely tune the effect to match your overdrive, Big Muff or fuzz adding a lovely modulated flavour.
Only thing I noticed is some digital clipping when I boosted the front end of the pedal. You need to keep your gain effects at unity level.
The Micro Vent is a very authentic sounding rotary effect in an impressive footprint. The blend function alone makes the Micro Vent 122 one of the best speaker simulators for your David Gilmour tones.
See neo-instruments.com for more information and reviews.