Free The Tone Free The Tone


Inheriting versatility, high sonic quality, and high durability from the FREE THE TONE ARC-3, the downsized version, ARC-53M is now available!
Without any compromises, the basic features such as the HTS (Holistic Tonal Solution) Circuit driven by internal ±15VDC, and control of MIDI devices, are packed into a smaller housing.
Try FREE THE TONE’s new Audio Routing Controller ARC-53M, designed to make professional quality sound more accessible!

  • NOTE: Black version is manufactured to order.


  • FREE THE TONE HTS (Holistic Tonal Solution) circuit installed.
  • Silent-click custom footswitches are adopted. These switches respond quickly to follow fast operation.
  • The distance between the footswitches is 70 mm. By changing switch mount angles of the first and second rows, superb playability is obtained on this compact body.
  • A special panel is provided for changing settings or selecting presets. Operability is drastically improved by reducing the levels of edit menus as much as possible. This greatly reduces the amount of time spent editing.
  • Edit functions (copy, delete) for presets and banks are provided.
  • By switching Display modes, the MIDI program change numbers for each channel that is currently being sent can be checked at a glance.
  • The LED for each footswitch is covered by a lens to prevent sweat or other moisture from entering directly into the internal circuits. Also, a felt sheet is attached to the back of the display unit for further protection.
  • High-strength molded plastic phone jacks are used to ensure safe and long term use.
  • Number of MIDI Program Change Number Parallel Sends: 4 (MIDI Send Channels: CH1–CH4 fixed)
  • Number of MIDI Control Change Number Parallel Sends: 4
HTS (Holistic Tonal Solution) Circuit
The newly developed FREE THE TONE’s Holistic Tonal Solution (HTS) Circuit brings a brand new concept to effect pedals.

The HTS Circuit mainly handles the interface section of an effects unit (input and output). This circuit solves not only the problem with a True-Bypass circuit and weak points in a combination of a general buffer circuit and an electronic switch, but also totally and effectively manages the relationship between devices connected before and after the effects unit and the operation of the effects circuit implemented in the HTS Circuit.

The compatibility of pedals when they are connected together will be influenced by the signal level and the characteristics of the input and output impedance. Signal characteristics may change each time you switch effects units on some combinations of effects units using a true-bypass circuit. These changes in signal characteristics will have a drastic influence on the sound quality and/or sound image. You may have felt a fundamental difference in sound quality or a feeling that something just isn't right in the past. This is a major problem of effects units that is relatively unknown.

The HTS Circuit consists of three separate circuits: Input Circuit, Noiseless Effect On/Off Circuit, and Output Driver Circuit.

The Input Circuit receives the signal properly according to the conditions of the signal source, eliminates noise from unnecessary frequency bands and then sends the pure guitar signal to the effect circuit. The FREE THE TONE effects units have a very low signal-to-noise ratio thanks to the HTS Circuit.

The processed signal is sent to the Noiseless Effect On/Off Circuit. This circuit transfers the guitar sound faithfully without any feeling of dullness or distortion that is often unique to electronic switching circuits, because no switching element, such as an FET, is used.

The processed or bypassed sound signal, selected by the Noiseless Effect On/Off Circuit, is sent to the Output Driver Circuit and then to any other equipment connected after the effector in the signal chain. Regardless of whether the effects unit is on or off, the signal output impedance remains fixed so that a stable signal is provided all the time. And when the effects unit is turned off, the HTS Circuit outputs a signal that remains true to the original natural guitar sound.

HThe effected sound and bypassed sound managed by the HTS Circuit will always have the same sound quality, which solves a problem that has plagued players for years.


  • Number of loops: 5 (series loop: 4, separate loop: 1)
  • Number of presets: 200 (20 banks × 10 presets)
  • Control terminals: 3 (latch/momentary switchable)
  • Input impedance: 1MΩ (HTS-IN)
  • Output impedance: max. 200Ω (OUT)
  • Power supply: 12-VDC AC adapter
  • Current consumption: approx. 400 mA (max.)
  • Dimensions: 330W × 92.5D × 60.5H mm (incl. protuberances such as footswitches, jacks, etc.)
  • Weight: approx. 1.1 kg (excl. accessories)
  • Accessories: warranty card, manual, AC adapter (FA-1220D-JA/UK/EU), 4× rubber feet

Q & A

Q:Can I use my ARC-3 linked with an ARC-53M?

A:Yes. Although the ARC-53M does not have a link terminal, it supports MIDI. So you can use these two units at the same time by connecting them via MIDI.

When connected as above, the ARC-53M can receive a MIDI program change number programmed on the ARC-3 and then recall the specified program on the ARC-53M. So you are controlling the ARC-53M from your ARC-3.

NOTE: Since program change numbers range from 1 to 128, the number of the ARC-53M presets that can be recalled from the ARC-3 is limited to 128. The ARC-53M has 200 presets (10 presets x 20 banks) but presets after No. 129 cannot be recalled from the ARC-3.

Q:How can I turn on/off the FT-1Y from the ARC-53M via MIDI?

A:Setup the ARC-53M by following the steps described below.
1) FT-1Y Setup: Set the MIDI channel to CH1 or AL (Omni mode).
2) MIDI CC Number Setup: Put the ARC-53M in Edit mode and set “CC number 61” referring to the ARC-53M manual, page 11, “CSW CC#” procedures.
Enter as follows:
Parameter 1:CSW1
Parameter 2:61(MIDI CC#)
Parameter 3:CH1(MIDI channel)
3)Programming: Switch from Edit mode to PS mode. Then set the multi-status LED on the ARC-53M front panel to show “MIDI CC#”. Turning on/off the CSW1 switch now toggles the FT-1Y’s effect on and off.

Q:When I connect my ARC-53M to a device via MIDI, noise appears but disconnecting MIDI stops it. Why?

A:In rare cases noise can be heard when connecting some effects units or amplifiers to an ARC series unit (or switcher in general) via MIDI. This occurs because the MIDI signal circuit in your effects unit (or amplifier) is connected to the signal ground, making a ground loop and therefore noise.
In this case, the cause is in the circuit design of the effects unit (or amplifier) and it is impossible to solve it on the ARC series unit (or switcher in general) side. You may need to make a special MIDI cable with a lifted ground.

Q:Is it OK to secure the ARC-53M to my pedalboard with screws?

A:No. The ARC-53M has not been designed to be secured to a board with screws. Do not use screws to fix the ARC-53M to your board. A screw could possibly make contact with the PCB board inside the unit and damage it, resulting in a failure. Drilling holes in the product for securing screws will void the warranty.

Q:How can I send MIDI program change numbers from the ARC-53M?

A: Setup the ARC-53M by following the steps described below.
<Setup for sending program change numbers>
Ex) How to save a program change number in the ARC-53M’s preset 1via MIDI channel 1
*The device connected to the ARC-53M is set to MIDI receiving channel 1.
*If multiple devices are to be connected, assign different MIDI channels to them.

1) Put the ARC-53M in Preset mode and select Preset 1.
2) Press the DISP MODE switch to select “MIDI PC & CC#”.
3) Choose the select switch 1 and set the MIDI program change number to be sent by using the INC/+ and DEC/– switches.
NOTE: MIDI channels 1–4 are already assigned to the select switches 1–4. By pressing the select switch 1, the MIDI program change number to be sent in MIDI channel 1 is shown in the display. Initial setting is all “OFF”. (Please refer to the ARC-53M manual page 8.)