A Chorus Line-Up
Come with us now as we check out more than 20 different chorus boxes and tell you which is best.
Four and twenty chorus pedals all in a row. Making Music surveys the top units for your delectation.
CHORUS: there's nothing to be ashamed of - we've all used it at some time or other. Add it to a guitar, keyboard, or bass and you have instant lushness - aural riches. It does this by delaying a signal and modulating its pitch in relation to its original. Width or depth knobs control how much the pitch wobbles up and down, while speed or rate dictates how often it changes, this roughly simulates the effect of two instruments playing in unison — hence the added depth.
According to the Buyer's Bible, chorus is the most popular effect in the battery (ahem) of foot-tapper-lodes. We've divided the pedals into four categories — mono analogue, stereo analogue, double choruses, and digital (which are all stereo).
We invited everyone we could think of to send us all their stand-alone chorus pedals (which means no Korg board, or Boss Micro-Rack). The resultant enormous pile of stuff we duly sat down and tested (without reference to price) with guitar, two amps, and four ears; the tabulated results you see below.
All pedals have certain features in common: Rate and Depth knobs, for a start, that and a deep emotional attachment to 9V batteries. They are made from either metal (M) or plastic (P). The digital pedals should be used with 9V AC adaptors. The initials in the Controls column stand for rate (r), depth (d), tone (t), feedback (f), delay (dl), mode (m) and balance (b). The star rating is out of a possible maximum of 5½. (Some mathematician - ed.)
There was nothing particularly wrong with any of them - some just worked better than others - though we weren't convinced that the digitals were necessarily £50 better than their analogue equivalents.
Of the monos, the Frontline seems the best value, though for only a fiver more you could have the very impressive Aria ACH-1 (but remember that you need two amps for stereo). The double effect Guyatones seemed good value, and there's also an honourable mention for their dedicated Bass Chorus (not listed), which was jolly good.
Higher up the price range, we liked the sweetness of the Roland Dimension C, but felt the best stereo pedal (arguably the best of them all) was the Ibanez CSL.
We couldn't really see the point of the double choruses unless you're into using weird wibbly noises.
None of the digitals sparkled as much as we'd hoped, but we did like the flanges and choruses on the Arion DCF, which gave it a slight edge over the Ibanez.
mu:zines is the result of thousands of hours of effort, and will require many thousands more going forward to reach our goals of getting all this content online.
If you value this resource, you can support this project - it really helps!