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A Better Mousetrap?

Article from Home & Studio Recording, March 1986

Would you believe that Boss have come up with anew flanger pedal, the HF2?

Invent a better mousetrap and the RSPCA will beat a path to your door, right? Well, Boss might have done just that with their HF-2 High Band Flanger.

Everyone is familiar with the flanging sound and there are dozens of manufacturers producing flangers, so what does this one have that the others don't? I've never yet found the perfect flanger pedal, though there are good elements in nearly all of them. For example, the old Electro Harmonics Electric Mistress had one of the best flange sounds of all time, like the devil himself scraping his fingernails down the blackboard of infinity, but it was intolerably noisy. Since then flanger design has been refined and many of the pedals currently available have noise levels capable of satisfying studio requirements but the sound is somehow never quite so satisfactory. What Boss have tried to come up with is something designed to offer the best of both worlds.


Lurking in its noxiously coloured lilac pedal, the HF-2 has the same layout and controls as the earlier Boss BF-2 flanger, those being four control knobs, an input and an output socket, and a bypass FET switch activated by depressing the cast pedal section. A standard 9v battery is mounted under the pedal and there's an option to connect an external power unit if required.

The flange effect itself is generated by means of a delay circuit, in this case an analogue delay line. The delay time is controlled by a low frequency oscillator and then some of the original signal is added. In this way the characteristic flanging effect is produced.

"Where this flanger differs from previous designs is not in basic concept but in degree."

The first control is simply called Manual and this sets the basic delay time of the analogue delay line. If the Oscillator control depth is set to minimum, this control may be used manually to create flanging sweeps, hence the title. If the oscillator sweep is in use as will usually be the case, the Manual control is used to tune the delay so that the flange effect can be optimised for a particular instrument.

Next come the Depth and Rate controls which set the range and sweep speed of the oscillator. It's usual to use a high Depth setting in conjunction with a low Rate setting or vice versa as setting both controls to high produces a sound not entirely unlike a yodelling whale attempting to escape from a tumble dryer.

Finally we have the Res control which is short for resonance. This feeds some of the output back to the input and in the context of flanging, this strengthens the effect and imparts that characteristic whooshing sound to whatever input is applied.

"The extra flanging range does make a difference and you will appreciate it most if you go in for deep dramatic effects."

In Practice

Where this flanger differs from previous designs is not in basic concept but in degree. The sweep range has been extended to encompass a further octave giving a wider and stronger effect than was possible with earlier models. One problem with flangers is knowing when not to use them and as a rule, the more dramatic the effect, the less often you should use it. It is one of those effects that can be applied to virtually any sound source from drums to vocals or indeed to a complete mix. By carefully setting the Res control, you can get anything from a tape phasing type of effect through to a full blown over the top flange. With Manual set to max and Res set to minimum, you can even coax some convincing chorus sounds out of the thing.

Certainly the flanging range is wider and consequently the sweep is more dramatic when set to maximum but otherwise the effect is little different from its predecessor which in fairness was also extremely good.

"It seems that Boss are still the innovators when it comes to effects pedals..."


If you're on the lookout for a flanger pedal that's quiet enough for studio use and yet has a high enough input impedance to be used with guitars, then this one is well worth considering. On the other hand, if your present flanger is giving you no cause for concern, then any advantages gained in changing to this one might not be worth the extra expense. Like most Boss pedals, this one will accept signals at around -10dBm which is fine for the majority of budget recording gear and, if previous Boss pedals are anything to go by, it should prove to be both robust and reliable. The extra flanging range does make a difference and you will appreciate it most if you go in for deep dramatic effects. For milder effects, the older BF-2 would probably sound much the same.

It seems that Boss are still the innovators when it comes to effects pedals and most of their products are directly compatible with budget recording equipment, so if you are trying to stretch your funds or if you need to use the same gear live as in your studio, their whole range is worthy of close inspection.

The HF-2 Flanger costs £89 including VAT.

Further details are available from: Roland UK, (Contact Details).

Also featuring gear in this article

Previous Article in this issue

Get it out of your System

Next article in this issue

Falling Into Line

Publisher: Home & Studio Recording - Music Maker Publications (UK), Future Publishing.

The current copyright owner/s of this content may differ from the originally published copyright notice.
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Home & Studio Recording - Mar 1986

Donated & scanned by: Mike Gorman

Gear in this article:

Guitar FX > Boss > HF-2 Hi Band Flanger

Gear Tags:


Review by Paul White

Previous article in this issue:

> Get it out of your System

Next article in this issue:

> Falling Into Line

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