• Neo Instruments Micro Vent 122 review

    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. 

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32 Responsesso far.

  1. Brandon Hester says:

    Hey, Bjorn. If you were to choose between this and an RT-20, which one handles Muff tones better? These things sound great clean, but I want to have a rotary sim that mixes well with my high gain pedals.

    • Bjorn says:

      It comes down to the settings I think. Both of these goes very well with a Big Muff but IMO the RT20 is hard to beat because it has much more of that deep chorusy character, which is closer to David’s Yamaha and Doppola speakers.

  2. retsoor says:

    Bjorn, good review, yes, but I think you are selling the 122 version way short. When you say that you prefer the Lex for Leslie tones…um…and you’ve actually played the Micro Vent 122… I’m so puzzled by this response. The Micro Vent 122 is far better than the Lex pedal as to sounds, and even as to it’s operation, which is easier/better. IMO, raising two thumbs up, the Micro Vent 122 pedal is the very best Leslie pedal emulator available today – and – clearly, the BLEND control is an obvious game changer for this type of audio efx. This BLEND control is exactly what a guitar player needs to make such a sound work for him/her, either live or recorded. As to the sound of an actual Leslie, I have a real 122 to compare either pedal to, and again, the Micro Vent 122 is the very closest emulation of a real Leslie that I have ever heard.

    As to the recorded work on with a real Leslie (tastefully distorted?), there is probably EC’s iconic version of ‘Badge’ (Cream reunion 2005 – from the DVD, not YT!) that is best known. And sure, driving an amp and then injecting it into a Leslie with a phenolic diaphragm horn is just an incredible sound, with the right OD at unity before the MV122, and an OD after it driving the guitar amp, I find there is an easy way to recreate that sound. It just can’t be done with the Lex, there is not clarity, no dynamics there.

    • Bjorn says:

      A matter of taste I guess. I like the overall sound of the Lex better but the MV’s blend control makes it easier to pair with other pedals.

      • retsoor says:

        You’re a fair man for posting my response, Bjorn. This said, I am positive you will one day revisit the MV and change your mind about it. I, too, at one time used to think the Lex was the best.

        • Bjorn says:

          I don’t really need to change my mind. I have them both, among several other Leslie sims, and use them for whatever tones I need. The Lex is, IMO, better at replicating that woody and dry Leslie tone. Especially for close mic’ed tones. The Vent has more of a chorusy tone, like mic’ing a Leslie cabinet with some room. Depends on what tones you need. The Lex is a favourite for recording, while the Vent might sound better in a band setup and for Gilmour’s tones. Matter of taste.

  3. Al says:

    Thank you Bjorn for a very informative review. I recently had a chance to try out the Hughes and Kettner Tube Rotosphere MK II and I just could not stop playing it. It was fantastic. I loved the included gain section. Have you had a chance to try that and how do you think it compares?

    Also size is not an issue for me so I don’t see why I should get the micro and not get the best of their lineup and get the Neo Venilator or at the very least the Mini, Do you think there is much of a differfence bewteen the ll and the mini?

  4. Ron Rumsey says:

    A Cali76 set for light compression into a KOT set for OD to taste into a uVent 122 = swirly bliss!

  5. Cory says:

    Thank you Bjorn. If only you can keep one rotary speaker pedal, which one is your choice, RT-20, vent, or Dawner Prince pulse? Thank you.

  6. Pedro says:

    Hello Bjorn! Thank you for your great work!
    How this compares to Lex, what is more authentic?
    I’m not liking my Lex so much, too much filtered sound. Thinking to trade for a neo ventilator 2 oe even a Strymon Deco for another sounds. Do you really like the Deco?

    • Bjorn says:

      Both have that same character of a Leslie but for me the Lex is more authentic sounding. It’s just got that true woody tremolo sound, while the Vent is perhaps closer to a 700 series solid state Leslie or a Vibratone. The Lex doesn’t have a mix control, which is a big shame. For David Gilmour’s tones I’d go with the Vent or the excellent Pulse from Dawner Prince.
      The Deco is one of my favourite overdrive pedals.

  7. Pedro says:

    Hello! Great review! This is more authentic to a real Leslie than the Strymon Lex? I think the Lex filters the tone Too much without a blend knob

    • Bjorn says:

      Both have that same character of a Leslie but for me the Lex is more authentic sounding. It’s just got that true woody tremolo sound, while the Vent is perhaps closer to a 700 series solid state Leslie or a Vibratone. The Lex doesn’t have a mix control, which is a big shame. For David Gilmour’s tones I’d go with the Vent or the excellent Pulse from Dawner Prince.

  8. Thank you so much Bjorn for all Your work. For years now I have enjoyed all Your input on the Gilmour sound and has been so very helpful to Us trying to get close to the Masters Technic. Could not have gotten even close with out Your help.. Just wanted to drop You a line. Keep up the great work. ~Pepper Roberts, Texas USA~

  9. Alan says:

    Hi Bjorn – This is a great website and thanks for all the info! In your experience is the lack of a stereo output a major disadvantage versus the Lex or other rotary pedals? And if you had the choice for David’s sounds with a minimal number of pedals (eg a delay, muff type plus one more) would you say a rotary pedal is more beneficial versus a vibe, phaser or chorus? Thanks and keep up the great work!

    • Bjorn says:

      You won’t get that huge swirly feel of a rotary pedal in mono but it works just fine in mono as well, adding a different kind of modulation. I wouldn’t say it’s a must have. A phaser or flanger would define the different eras much more accurately.

  10. Michel Giroux says:

    Excellent review Bjorn.How does the Micro Vent 122 compare with the Boss RT20?

    • Bjorn says:

      Thanks! The Vent is definitely more authentic sounding towards a physical Leslie. What I’ve always loved about the RT20 is its ability to blend with high gain effects and you get that slightly chorusy Yamaha RA-200 character but that’s really what it is too – a chorus. I don’t use it as an actual rotary pedal. The Vent and lex is much better at that.

  11. Juan says:

    Amazing pedal! I have the mini Vent and it is really good too! Thanks!

  12. Giuseppe Flore says:

    Digital clipping is a serious problem, I use muffs at a solo level, not unity level. Another problem is the double conversion ad/da that always have a bad effect to the sound.
    Are the Boss rt-20 a better choice or the pedal is total digital like the ventilator?
    Sorry for my poor English…

    • Bjorn says:

      The RT20 has the same issue and it’s digital. The Lex has much more headroom but it doesn’t sound as good with gain effects as the Vent and RT20.

      • Giuseppe Flore says:

        Tanks Bjorn. No one simulator pedal in commerce today are convincing me enough. I’m waiting for the new Pulse pedal by Dawner Prince, hoping in a better doppola’s sound.

    • Gertjan says:

      Try to boost the signal at the end of the chain. Use something transparent. That might solve the issue!

  13. drcordisco says:

    Great stuff. Thanks for posting Bjorn.

  14. Congrats fow this review! I have the Keeley Dyno My Roto.

  15. Troy says:

    Like I’ve been saying for years, my Neo Ventilator II is fantastic for DG rotary tones. This small form factor of this Micro Vent is tempting for a portable board (for live or recording out of the home) but on the big board the Neo Vent II I think will stay with its selectable stereo routing & lack of digital clipping (or maybe I just haven’t driven it with a high enough input level?). The fact that the bigger Vents were originally designed for higher output organs & synths simulating organs & at least on the Vent II has a keyboard/guitar switch seems to indicate to me that it has more headroom. The internal overdrive is also pleasing to the ear. Having separate switches for on/off, fast/slow, spinning/braked is luxurious too.

    Nevertheless this smaller unit has that compactness as a very appealing feature. It will be interesting to see if Neo’s Fender Vibratone is even more suitable for those DG rotary tones. Theoretically it would seem so but as the saying goes “the proof is in the pudding”.

    Do you think that this might replace the Lex on your gigging board Bjorn?

    • Bjorn says:

      Yes I think it will. I’ve been using the Lex for years and for one or two Airbag songs we do live but as a stand alone effect. It doesn’t really blend that well with gain effects. The Neo will cover more ground so I think I’ll be using that one from now.

  16. Scott H says:

    Sounds fantastic and oddly I have been on the hunt for an authentic rotary speaker pedal for the past week. My Danelectro Billionaire is decent, but doesnt sound authentic at all. But the PRICE! Holy Valhalla! $350 for this??

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