Chorus Pedals

Chorus pedals – how can you not love them? They’re so raw, so unpolished, so direct, so easy to fiddle with…

I love using chorus pedals when mixing as they sit the sound in a different perspective to that created by a plugin or a polished, hi-tech piece of outboard gear. I have a decent collection of chorus pedals (see chorus pedals in my shop), and have owned quite a few more, but some stand out more than others

My All Time Top Five Chorus / Flanger / Phaser list:

  1. Boss Chorus CE-1
  2. Roland Dimension D
  3. Eventide Flanger
  4. AMS Flanger
  5. Yamaha SPX90 Symphonic

 

1. Boss CE-1

What makes the CE-1 sit at the top of the list? It’s not because it’s a swirly, deep, flangey chorus, because it’s not. It’s subtle, smooth, refined and rather special. It adds depth and subtle movement, so it’s superb for widening keyboard pads and giving depth to a mix. It does all this without any downsides at all – it’s quiet (or quite enough), it’s mains-powered so no batteries to worry about, and it’s absolutely incapable of sounding bad

2. Roland Dimension D

The Dim D sits in a class of its own at the top of the rack-mounted chorus tree. It’s super-simple with four settings, each of which seems to be perfect, but one is always slightly more perfect than the rest. Again, it’s not a deep, swirly device, but it does a great job of adding subtle movement and widening sounds

3. Eventide Flanger

Eventide is one of my favourite manufacturers. They haven’t made a bad piece of gear since they started in New York in 1971 . The Eventide Flanger, and it’s sister, the Phaser, are old-school rack devices which will do deep, resonant flanging, subtle movement and anything in between. My favourite trick is to feed the whole mix though it, slowly cross-fade with the original mix and switch back on a downbeat. Sounds great on headphones, sounds great on the radio

4. AMS Flanger

If you could imagine a slightly more British, slightly more buttoned-down version of the Eventide, you’d get something like the AMS. Great audio quality, very smooth in operation, great controls with more finesse than the Eventide, the AMS is a killer flanger

5. Yamaha SPX90 Symphonic

When you trawl through factory presets on outboard gear it’s rare to find a sound that jumps out at you that also works in a track. Symphonic is one of the few. Unlike the other chorus / flangers in my list, Symphonic is the only one from a digital device with presets. All the others predate the digital era and use analogue, bucket-brigade delay lines. The SPX90 may be digital, but someone at Yamaha engineering spent time creating a killer flanger which someone else from marketing named Symphonic. Whatever – it’s great

Honourable mentions

A few other Chorus pedals & rackmount devices stand out:

MXR Phase 90 pedal – fabulous stomp-box phaser

Any MXR Flanger – I haven’t found a bad one yet

Any Electro-Harmonix Chorus or Flanger – I haven’t found a bad one yet

Yamaha Rev 7 – Symphonic, just like the SPX90

The final word – Marshall Time Modulator

There’s one more device that would sit on top of the pile if it could be described as a Flanger. It will do Flanging, but I don’t really think of it as one. Maybe my mistake

The Marshall Time Modulator is possibly the weirdest, most wonderful piece of outboard gear ever devised. Most engineers I know steer clear of it but I have to say I love it

 

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