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7 way analog Chorus Shootout

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by Pacodelivery, Oct 9, 2017.


  1. Pacodelivery

    Pacodelivery Supporting Member

    May 25, 2014
    Baltimore
    IMG_3490.JPG So I went down the rabbit hole chasing the best chorus for my needs and I ended up with 7 chorus pedals all at the same time, so I figured I'd do a little side by side by side comparison for you all.

    Notes:

    1) Sorry, no clips. I don't have the ability at all to do good sound clips (I don't even have a computer right now!) and the mic on my phone is nowhere near enough to get to the subtleties the differences we're talking about here.

    2) My test criteria are: Noise, headroom, sound, ability to do true vibrato, ability to cop a Leslie, flexibility, and of course, sound.

    3) Test bass is a custom T bird with wilkinson humbuckers, a relatively low output bass most similar to a p bass, strung with la Bella allow tension flats. I run that into a traynor yba200-2 with a 12au7 preamp tube, set clean. To test headroom and pairings I'll run my 3leaf octavbre mini (output 1 o'clock, mix full wet, tone fully oc2 circuit) and Wren and Cuff Tall Font Russian (output 11 o'clock, tone noon, distortion dimed) into each pedal.


    MXR ANALOG CHORUS:


    First of all let me clear up something I was confused about. MXR says that the low and high controls are cut only, which led me naturally to believe that the pedal couldn't add any bass or treble. What I've found is that this pedal inherently adds BOTH bass and treble, which you can dial back with the two controls if you desire. For both controls unity is about 2 o'clock on the dial, anything above that adds frequencies.

    Noise is present but pretty mild, and the two band eq gives it a lot of flexibility. My favorite setting is low and high both at 2 o'clock (or flat), level and depth both dimed, and rate at 11 o'clock, and then adding or subtracting eq frequencies from there. It can also do a pretty good Leslie with the level still dimed, the rate dimed, and the depth at noon.

    It's not the warmest chorus ever, definitely on the icy side of things, but not in a sterile way. The chorus sound seems to sit on top of your original sound, regardless of the setting for me. This became very apparent when running the octavbre and tfr into it. With the low control at 2 o'clock, you got a nice icy sheen over the bass tone. If you rolled the low control cw instead of it thickening the low end I get this sort of resonant hump that sounds muddy and blown out. Adding high frequencies sounds great tho. I'd say it doesn't seem to handle very bassy signals super well. It doesn't ever seem to otherwise distort with a hot signal in my experience.

    Verdict: Great for the money. Good standard sound, good Leslie, pairs pretty well with other fx so long as you roll of the lows of the chorus signal a bit. Also the led is insanely bright.
    7/10

    BOSS CE-3:

    I don't think this is a great pedal for bass. I have a noticeable if not entirely unworkable drop in both overall volume and in deep bass frequencies when I engage it. The drop in the deep lows is pretty subtle on clean tones but much clearer when I hit it with my tfr or octavbre.

    That being said it does nail that classic subtle chorus sound, and seems to me to react to you playing in a very organic cool way. It's also pretty low noise.

    I tried the trick of setting knob 3 to setting I and plugging into output b and it while did sound different it wasn't vibrato and it had the same issues on bass as the normal configuration.

    Verdict: I'd say that if you only want a set and forget Chorus for a basic sound and don't plan on pairing it with other effects this is a decent option.
    4/10

    MXR STEREO CHORUS:

    This pedal is magic. It's on the subtler side of things but what it does is does absolutely beautifully. I'll also note that for whatever reason it stands out better in the mix than I thought it would hearing with just me playing.

    This is the pedal for somebody who wants to add width and girth to your sound. It sort of smears your tone, in a lush, organic way.

    The eq section is a big part of its charm. The.bass knob adds some serious womp without getting muddy, and the treble adds wonderful sparkle or bite.

    My favorite setting is

    Low pass off
    Bass 1 o'clock
    Treble 1 o'clock
    Intensity dimed
    Width dimed
    Rate 10 o'clock

    At this setting you get a healthy boost and a present yet subtle and deep sound. Compared with their analog chorus, this one meshes with your tone much better, instead of sitting apart from it.

    Because it's so subtle it's hard to get a great Leslie tone from it. With intensity, width, and rate maxed you get close, but I think the MXR analog chorus does that better.

    It's a very quiet pedal, unless you crank the treble knob, at which point it's way noisier than I think it deserves to be.

    Another note is that there isn't a bad sound in this pedal, as in, I haven't found a setting where I kick it on and find it messing something up for me, except maybe when the bass is just too much.

    At first, I thought the high pass was pretty useless. For clean sounds it basically makes the chorus sound disappear in the mix. But when running it in combo with the tfr or octavbre I did find it useful at times to clean up the sound.

    I desperately want to give this pedal a perfect rating but I can't for a couple reasons. First, I just don't understand why it has to be so big. MXR managed to fit pretty much everything this pedal does into their bass Chorus Deluxe pedal (and I'll compare the two in a minute) AND add a flanger and got into one of their standard size boxes, instead of the double wide. I'm disclipining myself to staying on a pedaltrain 2 and the space is hard to justify.

    Second, it can be distorted by a hot signal, which confuses my greatly considering it runs at 18v. Running the octavbre it becomes especially obvious that there's this fuzzy distorted sound in the background. It's not a bad sound, I sort of like it, but it frustrates me that there's no dialing it out.

    Verdict: For a stand alone, subtle sound to add width and depth to your playing, this pedal is a real winner. It's not in your face and it's Chorus sound isnt terribly versatile (though it's eq is), but it's definitely one of those special pedals. Whenever this is on my board I'm tempted to have it on all the time, twisting the intensity and width to taste for the song.
    9/10

    MXR BASS CHORUS DELUXE:

    First off let me clear up the relationship between this pedal and the stereo chorus. From owning both and playing them side by side it seems to me that MXR built the BCD on the same basic layout as their stereo chorus, with some tweaks. If you put the knobs in all the same places you get similar results (and just to clarify they have EXACTLY the same knobs). The eq section seems to be voiced similarly.

    So a lot of what I just said about the stereo chorus also basically describes the bcd.

    This pedal is very good. But the magic of the stereo chorus is gone, for me. The BCD sits the chorus tone somewhat apart from your clean, and never achieves the wonderful meshing of the two the stereo chorus nails. It can get close, but it never quite gets there entirely.

    Also, the eq section does seem near as powerful as the stereo chorus's. It does seem to be somewhat lower noise.

    It has similar issues with hot signals, worse than the stereo chorus though not unworkably bad. With the octavbre the lfo started phasing out parts of the spectrum, which is kind of annoying but also kind of cool.

    As many others have noted the flanger is one of the hidden gems of this pedal. I don't have a lot of experience with flangers
    so I can't compare but it is an excellent sound that I find a lot of use for.

    Verdict: A really good all around pedal in the end. Not quite as magic as the stereo chorus, but a little quieter, smaller, easier to power, and you get a pretty great flanger.
    8.5/10

    Arion SCH-1 (grey box):

    This is a vintage knock off japanese pedal from the 80s with somewhat of a cult following. It is notable for having a tone knob (rare for pedals of this era), for the rate control being able to go absurdly fast, and for doing a great Leslie.

    This pedal has some noise but it's not bad, comparable with the MXR analog chorus.

    The standard chorus sound on this pedal is really great, very thick in a unique way. With tone at noon, depth dimed, and rate at 11 o'clock you get a classic deep chorus sound with a nice throb.

    What's unique to this pedal is that at most settings it very much sounds like there is a second signal with true pitch vibrato being applied to it. As in, this pedal is the opposite of the MXR stereo chorus in that regard - you hear the lfo modulating quite clearly. What's strange to me is that it still seems to do a good job mixing the two signals back together, it just doesn't obscure the vibrato on the wet signal in the process.

    I tried to listen carefully to discern, I think this may be because it's a sine wave lfo as opposed to the traditional triangle wave in most chorus pedals, but I'm not 100% sure.

    The tone control is great for adding some high end sparkle. I can't see wanting to roll off highs (if you turn it ccw from noon) but it can darken things up if you want that.

    But the thing that makes this pedal sought after is the Leslie-esq sound, and it does a great job of that. With the rate at 3 o'clock, the depth at noon, and the tone at one o'clock you get a great static Leslie sound, very warm and present and lush. The only pedal that comes close
    out of this group is the MXR analog chorus, which does a pretty good job actually, tho the Arion does it better.

    The rate control goes even higher than what I need, almost into the audio spectrum. With rate and depth dimed you're very much in ring mod territory, which can be a real asset for some users.

    I was able to get it to distort feeding it my octavbre in much the same way as the stereo chorus; not unpleasant but definitely there. For some it may even be a nice sound. With both the octavbre and the tfr the vibrato on the wet signal being present was more obvious.

    Verdict: This pedal is in its own category. The fact that it always sort of sounds like a vibrato pedal (except at very slow speeds), that it has a very good Leslie sound (for a chorus pedal, that is), and that it goes into ring mod territory sets it apart from other pedals. Buyer beware though; these were cheap pedals when they were made 30-40 years ago out of plastic, and might not hold up to the rigors of the road. I've had mine for less than a month and already broke one knob.
    9/10

    TECH 21 BASS BOOST CHORUS:

    I get why everyone loves this pedal. It is by far the most versatile of the bunch, with the detune knob, the voice switch, a post effect boost, and a mix knob that can go 100% wet, which means it can also do true pitch vibrato.

    The pitch vibrato is fantastic, really present and snake-like.

    It's very quiet, and handles the signals of both the tfr and the octavbre well, save a few resonant peaks occasionally.

    For some people, I imagine that this would be THE perfect chorus pedal. I however have two main complaints with it that prevent it from being my chorus of choice.

    First, like with a lot of tech 21 pedals the knobs are all
    somewhat sensitive, they all interact, and there a lot of them, making it difficult to
    change sounds mid set in a live situation. For such a versatile
    pedal this is especially frustrating, as it really limits how useful that versatility is for me.

    Second, though it can do a lot of things I haven't been able to get it to do a thick, wide chorus like the MXR stereo chorus excels at. For some people that
    may not be a deal breaker, but for me that's the flavor of chorus I prize the most.

    Third is that the speed tops out at kind of a low setting. If this were one of the simple two or three knob choruses that would be understandable but for as complex and versatile as this pedal is otherwise I find this inexplicable. I'm SURE this pedal could do a great Leslie tone, probably better than the Arion, if it only went a little faster.

    Verdict: For some people this is as good as it gets, it just doesn't happen to be for me. When I paint my masterpiece and have a tricked out home studio I will absolutely own one and precisely dial in all sorts of sounds, but for right now it won't find a spot on my board.
    8.5/10

    DOD BASS STEREO CHORUS:

    Another classic sounding vintage bass chorus, that features the famed mn3007 bucket brigade chip.

    Doesn't really add or subtract frequencies, but with delay time at noon, rate at minimum, and depth dimed you get a classic hollow sounding beautiful chorus. If you turn the delay time up it can get some of the smear of the MXR stereo chorus, but never really ventures too far into that territory.

    At higher rate settings and with the other two knobs past noon you can get some pleasant throb. It never gets fast enough to do a Leslie, but I like the medium-high speed settings more than pretty much any other pedal; it sounds way more organic, and never seasick.

    It handles the signals of the octavbre and the tfr quite well, if making them sound slightly muddled at some settings. Rolling back the delay time helps with this.

    I'll also give another buyer beware warning. These old DOD pedals are great but the years have exposed some design issues. Mine is missing the battery door (like so many from
    this era) and has some sort of issue with the power jack that makes me unable to use it currently. Taking the backplate off doesn't expose the power jack so I can't get at it, and it would cost as much to have a tech look at it as it does used, and I don't love it so much that I've bought a second one.

    Verdict: For someone who wants a straight ahead chorus tone, and to use with other effects, this pedal is an incredible bargain. It doesn't add sparkle, or a great deal of dimension, but it does make a damn good basic chorus sound.
    7/10
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2017
  2. Interesting shoot out, but you have missed out on a few prime suspects worth considering for future reference.
    Boss CEB the old brown sludge is a classic
    Ibanez CS9 is a lavender spice of heaven and still my go to favorite
    Danelectro Cool Cat and Milkshake are also tasty flavors to consider, the Milkshake is especially effective in a wet dry set up.
     
  3. Agree with Bassbrad - the Boss-CEB should be here instead of the CE-3. The CE-3 is likely made for guitar so the drop in bass is likely a function of that pedal whereas the CEB will have crossover for bass frequencies.
     
  4. vivaknoxvegas

    vivaknoxvegas El Duderino Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2002
    Knoxville, TN
    Awesome content. Thanks for this. I am having a hard time using chorus lately.
     
    blindrabbit and Pacodelivery like this.
  5. Thanks for the Shoot Out.

    The more info/opinions out there the better to ascertain future purchases.

    Echoing BassBrad:
    +1 to the Brown CE-2B — I like this for subtle washes of colour, noticeable when you turn it off;
    +1 to the Cool Cat 18V — my thickening agent.

    Haven't tried the Milkshake yet.
     
    blindrabbit and Pacodelivery like this.
  6. Pacodelivery

    Pacodelivery Supporting Member

    May 25, 2014
    Baltimore
    Hey all thanks for the feedback.

    I agree the ceb-3 or ce-2b would have been more appropriate, I just threw in the ce-3 mostly because I had it lying around, I bought it for my vocal effects setup.

    @bassbrad I've wanted to try both the ce-2b and the ibanez cs9 (because if it isn't obvious I haven't found any of these completely satisfying) so maybe I'll try to make these my next purchases.

    I've owned the 18v dano actually, it was my first chorus pedal. I really liked it, though it's been a while my memory might be fuzzy. As I recall it was a pretty deep and present chorus that had a slight bump in both overall volume and in low end.

    The power jack broke as I was setting up for a show and I think
    I sold it in a batch of broken pedals on the tb classifieds.
     
  7. Pacodelivery

    Pacodelivery Supporting Member

    May 25, 2014
    Baltimore
    If I get more chorus pedals I'll update this list as I go.
     
    superheavyfunk and blindrabbit like this.
  8. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Wow, man, you really love your chorus pedals! Wish I could say the same. The 80's burned me out on it. But a couple years ago, I had a burning desire to try it again so I got a Bass Chorus Deluxe after experimenting with detuner mode on my EHX Pitch Fork, which was too over the top. Been quite happy with it, especially when I discovered how I could use it to simulate twin oscillators on my OC-2-based faux synth sounds. But it'll be the only one I ever get...and fortunately, with your review here, it seems like I made the right decision, since there's not a chance in hell I'm going stereo again :D
     
    Pacodelivery likes this.
  9. vvvmmm

    vvvmmm

    Dec 6, 2016
    Chi
    I have a cuppla pedals with that problem so, with the One Spot, you can use the 9v battery adapter.

    Also, I like the EHX Bass Clone, me.
     
  10. Pacodelivery

    Pacodelivery Supporting Member

    May 25, 2014
    Baltimore
    Woah! I never thought of that! Now I need to see if I still have that cable lying around from when I bought my pedal power 2
     
  11. 2010P

    2010P Inactive

    May 13, 2017
    When a person takes the time to do everything Pacodelivery did in his first post, it seems to me that thanks and gratitude should be the first order of business, not telling him what he missed in his review. Unbelievably rude to do that. Thanks Pacodelivery for taking the time to do this and for taking the time to write up your reviews.
     
  12. Would love to hear your thoughts on the DOD Deep Freeze. It’s my favorite, but you clearly have more experience. Always thought of comparing it to the MXR BCD, but as I don’t have a huge reason to use chorus much, I couldn’t justify getting it.

    Great info here. Thanks!
     
  13. Pacodelivery

    Pacodelivery Supporting Member

    May 25, 2014
    Baltimore
    Interesting! It's also got the mn3007, according to America's Pedal: FX63 Deep Freeze

    The DOD bass stereo chorus I have also has that same BBD chip, but I'd imagine it must be different enough to have justified DOD to have both models in their line.

    How wet can you get with the blend? Can it go 100%, and get to a true vibrato? That would make the blend control extra valuable. How fast can it get?
     
  14. I don’t really know, honestly. I just know I like it. I couldn’t tell if it’s 100% wet or not. As far as speed, it gets fast, but how fast I don’t know either. Again, not super versed in chorus knowledge. Sorry I’m not much help. I got it because I heard it was supposed to be an unknown gem and it was cheaper than other options. Wish I could help more.
     
  15. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    Another vote for Arion, Ich got a mint SCH-Z for 20 bucks which sounds awesome. Ich just need to mod it to get rid of the volume boost. Also, I recommend checking out the Pearl CH-02 Chorus. Great analog chorus with tone and mix control (for great vibrato). The Chorus Page Tone Machines Blog: Pearl Chorus CH-02 (1985)
     
    gregmon79 likes this.
  16. RickenBoogie

    RickenBoogie

    Jul 22, 2007
    Dallas, TX
    Thanks, that was as detailed a chorus shootout as I've ever read. I went through so many chorus pedals a few years back, so many, and all so different. Wound up with a T Rex Bass Chorus, stereo, and though it's fairly simple, it has all I want, without that annoying chorus hiss you sometimes get. I think only o/d,distortion/fuzz pedals are harder to find the perfect one.
     
  17. gregmon79

    gregmon79 I did it for the muff... Supporting Member

    Dec 20, 2012
    Chicago IL

    So which one did you end up putting on your board?! I may have missed that......



    I know chorus is another one of those effects that not all like or need but the ones that do use it it’s pretty personable. Some like a very low key, broad shaped chorus. Others like the warm analogue lush chorus. Then guys like me like the bright, vibrant yet lush and slow moving chorus. I had 2 CEB3 and this is one of the very few effects in general I ever really disliked to hate. It’s like it wasn’t even worth stepping on. It barely did anything for me. I’m no chorus expert but I’ve played a few. The MXR BCD was a huge disappointment to me. Way to subtle and lost in the mix. Yet the EHX small clone was surprisingly awesome. A little more subtle than I usually like, but damn does it sound awesome and it translates in a live mix well. I’d use it all the time if it weren’t for my love of multi effects units as far as modulation goes. I ended up always settling on these because they always offered more than just a chorus. First it was the SA Orbital. Then the mobius. Now the boss MD500. I feel the boss is the one that’ll stay the longest. It offers the most effects and options and it sounds superb imo. I can dial in so many types of chorus. It’s great. But then I can stack or have at my disposal a flanger or ring mod or phaser or trem or slicer or even a Leslie if I wanted/needed it. That’s why I like modulated multi effects. They offer a lot of effects I use little of yet very directly and effectively.

    Oh, and thanks for all that work and time man!!! You did a wonderful job. This will be a great tool for bassists looking for a good chorus. Bravo sir.
     
  18. superdick2112

    superdick2112 Mile High Bassist Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2010
    The Centennial State
    Some really good chorus pedals in there, but any bass chorus shootout should include the Anadime Bass Chorus. drool

     
    Bassist30 and Jakeman like this.
  19. Pacodelivery

    Pacodelivery Supporting Member

    May 25, 2014
    Baltimore
    Currently the MXR Analog Chorus is on my board. I don't love it, but it's very effective and not bad at anything. I like the eq points better than the ones on the BCD and you can tell when it's on and it's led would wake the dead.

    I just ordered a voodoo lab battery snap adapter (I couldn't find the one that came with my pp2+ :-( thanks to @vvvmmm 'a suggestion and Ima give the DOD bass chorus the rounds again, when I plugged it in for this shootout i found myself liking it more than I remember and maybe getting why ppl freak out over the mn3007 chip
     
  20. vvvmmm

    vvvmmm

    Dec 6, 2016
    Chi
    I still do not dig my DOD much and so I keep it on a back-up board but I do like the Source Audio Orbital's chorus - lots of (too much?) adjust-ability.
    I actually have a board with 4 SA pedals I use for recording with a Visual Sound compressor first to OFD to Manta to Orbital to the SA reverb. Cool sounds but I do spend some time tweaking ...
     

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