Model ARC-3
ARC-3 Additional Notes
(Discontinued in Sep/2018)

The ARC-3 is the FREE THE TONE’s flagship model completed after improvements in operability and reliability based on practical tests at live venues, rehearsal studios, etc.

The ARC-3 has a built-in HTS (Holistic Tonal Solution) Circuit that operates at an internal voltage of ±15 Vdc to preserve the original characteristics of a bass, guitar, effects and amp. It manages everything at the input and output, including the send and return for effects, and the signal line.

The ARC-3 provides the sound quality FREE THE TONE has created for professional musicians on request.
NOTE: Black version is manufactured to order.

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.


  • FREE THE TONE HTS (Holistic Tonal Solution) circuit installed.
  • The top panel has a 12-degree angle to improve display visibility and footswitch operability.
  • The distance between the foot switches is 71.5 mm (2.81") in the vertical direction and 80 mm (3.15") in the horizontal direction, and custom foot switches are used. These short stroke switches respond quickly in order to follow even fast operation.
  • 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.
  • Link function enables the user to connect two ARC-3s together and control them.
  • Mute function enables MUTE control from an external footswitch.
  • 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: 8 (MIDI Send Channels: CH1–CH8 fixed)
  • Number of MIDI Control Change Number Parallel Sends: 8


Number of loops 8 (series loop: 7, separate loop: 1)
Number of presets 640 (64 banks × 10 presets)
Control terminals 6 (latch/momentary switchable)
Expression pedal 1
Input impedance 1MΩ (HTS-IN)
Output impedance max. 200Ω (HTS-OUT, OUT-A, OUT-B)
Power supply 12-VDC AC adapter
Current consumption: approx. 700 mA (max.)
Dimensions 446W × 138D × 69H mm (incl. protuberances such as footswitches, jacks, etc.)
Weight Weight: approx. 2.0 kg (excl. accessories)
Accessories Accessories: warranty card, manual, AC adapter (FA-1220D-JA/UK/EU), 4× rubber feet


How many MIDI ready effects units can the ARC-3 control?
The ARC series can send multiple MIDI signals simultaneously. The ARC-3 can independently control up to eight units.
I want to use my ARC-3 to control multiple effects units individually via MIDI. But I can’t. Why?
By default the ARC-3 is shipped with its MIDI Tx Global function turned on and MIDI use is limited to one channel. You can send up to eight channels of MIDI signals by turning off this function by following the steps described below.

1)Following the instructions in the ARC-3 manual page 10, item (2) “MIDI Tx Global”, turn off the MIDI Tx Global function after putting the unit in Edit mode.
2) Exit from Edit mode and put the ARC-3 in Preset mode.
3)「Referring to the manual page 7, item (2) “To control multiple MIDI devices by using eight MIDI channels (CH1–CH8 fixed)”, store a PC# (program change number) in the desired MIDI channel.
Is it possible to control a MIDI ready effects unit not included in the ARC-3’s loops?
Yes. You can individually control up to eight units by connecting them with MIDI cables.
I am planning to implement spatial or modulation effects in my system by using my amplifier’s send/return loop. In this case, is it possible to connect the amplifier’s send to the IN-B jack and connect spatial compact effects to Loops 5, 6, and 7?
No. Regarding connecting an amplifier’s send/return loop to the ARC-3, the ARC series is basically designed to be connected before an amplifier’s input terminal and therefore we do not recommend to connect the send/return signals of an amplifier to an ARC unit. (A relatively long connecting cable is required which can cause a ground loop. This may result in audible noise.) However you can connect the amplifier’s send/return signals to the ARC-3’s separate loop “Loop 8” for send/return use. (Please note that connecting an amplifier’s send/return signals to other loops can create a ground loop and thus cause hum noise.)
Can I use my ARC-3 linked with an ARC-53M?
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.
Is it possible to remote control a BOGNER effects unit’s boost and bypass from an ARC unit?
Yes, although the BOGNER products’ control signal type is different from what is commonly used.
The ARC series provides a setting called “Momentary 2”. It is a mode to support BOGNER products. Connect to the C1/C2 jack with a stereo cable and you can control both Boost (C1) and Bypass (C2). By connecting to the C3 jack with a monaural cable, you can control Boost only.
NOTE: For control type setting procedures, please refer to the ARC-3 manual page 11, item (3).
Where should I place my volume pedal and the ARC-3 within my system?
Please refer to the following.
1. To use the volume pedal for turning down the guitar’s volume: Connect the volume pedal in between the guitar and the ARC-3’s HTS-IN. In this case, use a high impedance type volume pedal.
2. To use the volume pedal as a master volume control: Connect your volume pedal in between the ARC-3 and the amplifier. Use a low impedance type volume pedal.
3. To use the volume pedal as a master volume control (same as 2 above) when it is necessary to maintain delay sound even when the volume is lowered or to change the volume while playing without affecting the delay sound: Connect the volume pedal before the delay pedal.
What is your recommended expression pedal for use with the ARC-3?
We recommend the following volume pedals with 10k–25kΩ resistance:
NOTE: A FV-500L can be connected with a stereo cable. Use a stereo Y cable for the two models from ERNIEBALL.
When I connect my ARC-3 to a device via MIDI, noise appears but disconnecting MIDI stops it. Why?
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 results.
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.
Must I update the firmware in the order of release to step up the versions?
No. We create the latest firmware based on its previous version and therefore it contains corrections done in all of the preceding versions. So simply install the latest version.