Chorus Pedals & Rack Effects

Chorus pedals & rack effects are great devices for widening sounds & giving movement in the stereo field. Each one is different and they all have their strengths & weaknesses so, to cover all the bases, I used to buy every one I liked the sound of. Top of the tree – as ever – was the Boss CE-1, closely followed by the Dimension D

Chorus may be out of fashion with some people in 2019 but, for the chorus lovers out here, see my Top Ten and my list of items in stock

Chorus & Phaser pedals & rackmounts in stock:

Aphex Dominator – Hardware Setup

Aphex Dominator II Model 720

The Aphex Dominator is a powerful tool but, at times, it’s not obvious what it’s doing or why. To appreciate it properly you need to patch it into an established signal chain, align it to the peak level you’re working to then set levels to get the required degree of limiting

This guide was written to help setup a Dominator in a podcast / broadcast chain but much of the detail is applicable in other setups

  1. RTFM
  2. Establish the peak level you want in your signal chain
  3. Put the Dominator in the chain & set levels approximately
  4. Set the EQ and density at midpoint >0<
  5. Set the release slightly above midway
  6. Turn the coarse limit control all the way clockwise
  7. Set the fine limit control to the midpoint >0<
  8. Set the range switch at zero (red led lit)
  9. Check for unity gain with the input gain at >0<
  10. Adjust input & output gains on the audio interface to set operating level
  11. Wind the coarse limit setting back so it just lights on program peaks
  12. Turn it one click clockwise so it doesn’t limit
  13. Use the fine limit control to get a nice threshold for limiting
  14. Increase the input level till you see gain reduction (GR) on the meter and hear lots of limiting
  15. Shorten the release time till it sounds good on your program material (see notes below)
  16. Experiment with the density & EQ controls with a bit of GR going on
  17. Back off the input level to reduce GR to a sensible level or till it sounds good to you
  18. Verify that the limited max output level ties in with the level required. If it’s out, rejig DAW input & output gains accordingly
  19. Check for unity gain with no GR, adjust input & output gains accordingly

Notes

  • Release time is really critical
  • Release & density make a big difference to the sound
  • The density control balances the contribution of the LF and HF signals to the limiting. With the control in the >0< position the bands are balanced
  • When misused the spectral balance can change quite dramatically
  • LF & HF band controls allow equalisation of the signal
  • There are switches for the turnover frequency of each section
  • Every control interacts and it takes a while to get the best out of it
  • You can make it super transparent or make it pump quite a bit
  • If in doubt back off the input level till GR is sensible
  • Turning the release clockwise makes release time shorter – the opposite of every other limiter ever made
  • Did I mention that release time is really critical?

 

 

dbx 900 Series Racks & Modules

In the early 1980s dbx introduced the 900 Series, a modular processing system using a 3U chassis with builtin power supply. Sound familiar? Yes, it’s one of the progenitors of the 500 rack system

One of the few manufacturers that supported the dbx 900 Series was Aphex – now a player in the 500 Series market with both racks & modules

The 900 Series had (at least) two racks

  • FS900, 1U, two-module, self-powered rack
  • F900A , 3U, eight-module, self-powered rack

Compatible modules included

  • 902 De-Esser
  • 903 Compressor
  • 904 Noise Gate
  • 905 Parametric Equaliser
  • 906 Flanger
  • 907 Stereo Gated Compressor Slave
  • 911 Type I Noise Reduction
  • 941A Type II Noise Reduction
  • 942A Type II Noise Reduction
  • 929 Hiss Reducer
  • 993 Mixer module
  • Aphex Compellor 9301
  • Aphex Dominator II 9721
  • Aphex Expressor 9651
  • Aphex Aural Exciter
  • Aphex Equaliser
  • BBE 702

 

I have a number of 900 Series items in my workshop queue and will update this page when I have photos and more information

Preservation Sound has more info on the 900 Series plus a download link for the original marketing material. More info here

A few forum links & threads for research:

The DBX 900 Series

https://www.gearslutz.com/board/so-much-gear-so-little-time/68346-dbx-900-frame-modules.html

https://www.gearslutz.com/board/so-much-gear-so-little-time/9762-dbx-900-rack-compression.html

 

Dynamite!

Valley People Dyna-Mite

A piece of outboard gear that really caught my attention on an early session at Eden Studios was the Valley People Dyna-Mite. Housed in an ugly beige plastic case it stacked two channels of Dynamite in a very small package. Despite looking like a toy, the Dynamite proved to be a huge-sounding device capable of eye-widening compression. A year later, working at Sarm East, I discovered the epically-wonderful Allison Research Gain Brain, a masterpiece of savage compression & distortion

Later on I discovered the shared heritage of these two items and the story of their creator, Paul Buff. His story has been written about online already and there’s a longer piece here, and more here, so no need to duplicate it

I’ve been working my way through the Valley back catalogue, buying & restoring these remarkable compressors. In the list below, everything with an underlined link is either in stock, or been sold previously, and has a description with detailed photos. If you want an unvarnished opinion on the various models, email me

Significant pieces of Valley gear, in approximate chronological order, include:

 

Allison Research

Photo Credits: © Universal Audio & © The Telos Alliance

Shop update November 2019: Equalisers

Late 2019 round-up of equalisers, filters & etc. I’ll have an update on some of the more off-the-wall items – like the Realistic inductor stereo equaliser – soon

EQs

Filters, Dolby, Vitalizers, etc