Neo Instruments has long held sway as sort of the ’King of Swirl’ / ’King of Rotary’ with its flagship large format Ventilator II Leslie Rotary Simulator - which is still largely in a class of its own for that form factor. A few years ago it then released a more pedalboard-friendly Mini Vent version of that - a medium enclosure stripped-back affair with near enough same sort of footswitch control over ramping and braking, but no other surface controls save an A/B mode selector on its back panel.
Some years back when I was deciding on a pedalboard-friendly Rotary pedal for myself - my final three options came down to the Mini Vent II, Strymon Lex and now discontinued Tech 21 NYC RotoChoir. In the end I preferred the combination of tones and features of the RotoChoir - while it was a very closely fought 3-way head-to-head and I really could have picked any of those on any given day. I will admit that the lack of surface controls on the Mini Vent slightly put me off that one - which thought does not seem to be such a hinderance for most as the Mini Vent and Strymon Lex are probably the two most commonly seen Rotary pedals nowadays. I also relatively recently came across the NUX Roctary in the same sort of square medium enclosure form factor - and which throws octaves into the mix for a really interesting Hammond-like sound. Those 4 are probably my favourite contenders overall in the Rotary genre - for combination of features, tone and pedalboard-friendliness. Of course if you want the full Rotary feature set - the original large-format Ventilator is about the only current one that will give you everything you might desire.
Neo Instruments has obviously recognised the opportunity of producing a compact format Micro Vent edition of its signature pedal, but has added a slight twist to that formula by bringing out two distinct flavours of Rotary effect in the new format. We have the Micro version of the 112 Leslie which pretty much follows the pattern of the Ventilator II and Mini Vent and has the same colourway - this is that same core Leslie 112 signature sound, but in miniature and in ’mono’! with 5 controls - 4 knobs for the starting / Primary Speed parameters - Speed | Distance (Microphone) | Ramp (Acceleration Time) | Blend (Dry/Wet Mix) and a 3-way SPD2 toggle-switch which sets the Secondary Speed level - as either Slow, Stop or Fast. You hold down the footswitch to ramp between the Primary and Secondary speed selections.
The white ’16’ Micro edition of the Vent is a lot more subtle effect based on the original Fender Vibratone speakers which just had a single 10" drum rotor versus the dual counter-rotating speakers of the Leslie. Much like it’s chassis colouring - the white edition is a much more subtle flavour of rotary effect and will appeal to those who just want a slight flavour of that.
I do wonder about the saliency of the mono output as I have personally found that the proper swirling Rotary effect can only really be successfully recreated via stereo output. I searched long and hard for a compact edition Stereo Rotary that appealed to me, and even acquired the DigiTech Stereo Ventura Vibe for those purposes, but was never fully satisfied with its tone versus my Tech 21 RotoChoir.
It will be interesting to see how well these two newbies hold up when they are launched in the build-up to Winter NAMM 2020 next year. Neo Instruments has a great legacy in Rotary effects, but I must admit I am somewhat sceptical of trying to render that effect via mono output device. In my current rig I currently have my Eventide H9 Max on Rotary duties (Josh Smith settings) and that will do me for now until I acquire the GFI System Synesthesia - which funnily doesn’t have the Rotary effect in the launch version, but it’s due in a March 2020 update. In any case I’m pretty well covered already!