Guitar Gear Review: The Neo Instruments’ Ventilator – Gave Me Every Tone I Was Looking For..and More

Many devices have tried to capture the magic of the Leslie cabinet. These devices have run the gamut from the simple to the sublime. While some have come close to emulating the vibrato aspect of the Leslie, none have faithfully reproduced the “whooshing” effect of the air moving away from the cabinet. Most guitar effects with the claim of simulating a Lesilie 122 typically are beefed up vibrato or chorus pedals…until now.

Neo Instruments’ Ventilator is causing a stir in not only the keyboard world but also the guitar community. The first thing I like about the Neo Instruments’ Ventilator is it is true bypass. With my long effect chain, I can use all the help I can get with signal throughput. The Neo Instruments’ Ventilator has two switches, bypass to engage the effect the other to control the speed.

The speed setting on the Neo Instruments’ Ventilator is where the unit really shines. Neo Instruments kept in mind that the horn and the speaker in a Leslie 122 model would be rotating at different speeds. In addition, the acceleration and deceleration times of the horn and speakers differ. This gives us the ‘wobble” effect that is missing from so many rotary speaker simulators.

With the Neo Instruments’ Ventilator there is also an “Acceleration” control to adjust the amount of time it takes both rotors to go from fast to slow. The “Balance” which I at first blush thought would be an effect/dry mix control is actually more like an EQ. The “Balance” control adjusts the relative volumes of the speaker and the horns letting you control bass and treble.

The atypical controls on the Neo Instruments’ Ventilator are the “Drive” and “Distance” controls. “Drive” is an onboard tube simulator. The Leslie 122 was powered by a tube amp the Neo Instruments’ Ventilator stays true to that sound. Making the pedal even easier to control is the saturation is level compressed meaning you will not get volume spikes or drops when pushing the pedal. Kicking the drive up on the Neo Instruments’ Ventilator I stumbled upon the elusive Dire Straits “Money for Nothing” guitar tone. Very funky and cool I must say.

Does size really matter? You know the deal: That enormous rig – a Hammond with one or maybe even two Leslies – taking up so much floor space in your crib delivers to-die-for tone. You’re riffing away, enraptured, when a depressing realization bursts your bubble: You’d give so much to be able to play with precisely this sound on stage. But the colossal weight of this antiquated musical furniture is an insurmountable obstacle for the gigging musician. And although your digital Hammond clone hits the sweet spot, the weak, anemic Leslie effect is a turn-off.

What can a poor boy do? Guido Kirsch, the man and mind behind VENTILATOR, was similarly frustrated with this situation. So he took just about every analog, digital, and mechanical rotary effect on the market for a test drive, which only served to aggravate rather than alleviate his dissatisfaction. He even combined several devices, tweaked and fine-tuned parameters, and experimented with pre and post effect equalizers to finally conjure a sound that wasn’t half-bad. Still, though, there was that nagging wish for someone to find a way to pack all the sonic glory of a mammoth Leslie into a petit stompbox!

At that moment, the idea to build VENTILATOR was born

The “Distance” control adjusts the virtual distance of the microphone in front of the Leslie. Think of it as close live micing vs. distance studio micing; the closer you place the mike the more amplitude modulation you get. The close micing gives up the sought after “whooshing,” sound.

Neo Instruments’ Ventilator gave me every tone I was looking for…and more. From Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun” to Jimi Hendrix’s “Machine Gun” the Neo Instruments’ Ventilator faithfully recreated the sound. The Neo Instruments’ Ventilator also shined when using it as a simple tremolo or chorus.

The design of the Neo Instruments’ Ventilator is very smart. Neo Instruments outfitted the Neo Ventilator with recessed knobs with a routing around to controls to easily access them. This is phenomenal pedal from inside to out.

Therefore, if you are looking to get Jimmy Page’s “Good Time Bad Time” tone, hoping to nail Alex Lifeson’s sound on “Limelight” or looking for some true Nashville tremolo this is your pedal. If you are looking for a realistic replication of a Leslie for guitar, keyboards or studio look no further, Neo Instruments’ Ventilator has replicated the Leslie 122 in a pedal.

You can find out more about this wonderful pedal on the Neo Instruments website.