Boss CE-300 Super Chorus
Among the items IT's keyboard reviewer Nick Graham used on the recent Explorers tour was a Boss CE-300 Stereo Chorus. How did it fare on the road?
Although I have always liked the sound of chorused keyboards, I've never particularly liked the idea of effects pedals. Keyboard players usually have enough to do with their feet what with a swell and sustain pedal for each of several instruments, not to mention the spaghetti junction situation on the floor and the perplexed roadie trying to wire it all up! So when I discovered that Boss (Roland) had introduced a rack mounting version of their legendary stereo chorus I was very interested, particularly as at that time I was putting together a rack of effects and mixer to go out on the road. Stick a CE-300 in the rack, I thought and link it permanently to the effects loop of the mixer - that way, the amount of chorus in the sound of each instrument can be controlled by the 'send' level on each individual channel. You know - a touch on piano, a lot on strings, and mega-amounts on the DX7 Rhodes sound (subtle, eh?).
Apart from the obvious advantages of a rack mounted unit i.e., ruggedness, mains power, permanent connections and ease of operation, the CE-300 incorporates quite a bit more than its nearest pedal counterpart. Two completely independent chorus circuits have separate outputs A and B. The difference between these outputs is the phase of the modulation signal, output A having positive phase and output B negative or 'inverted' phase. Both these chorus outputs are mixed with the direct sound and ratio of chorus to direct sound can be adjusted using the chorus level control. In addition, by means of the chorus tone control the chorus part of the signal can be mellowed or sharpened without affecting the direct signal. If you need to kill the chorus effect (but not the direct sound), this can be done from the front panel using the effect on/off switch, or by means of an optional footswitch. Alternatively, the direct sound can be muted - very useful when the Super Chorus is patched into the effects loop of a mixer and only chorused sound is required. As on conventional chorus units, modulation rate and depth are provided and these function in the normal way. All the variable controls are marked with a little blue line at a position which Boss feel will give an optimum chorus effect. However, with a bit of experimentation some very unusual sounds can be produced!
There are in fact many ways of using this unit although the three described below I found to be the most effective.
1) A and B as separate stereo outputs
2) A as one side of a stereo pair, the other side being the direct signaL
3) As a mono output
Of these configurations, 1) gives the broadest possible chorus sound but a complete stereo amplification system is necessary. This setup is also ideal for recording, because the presence of some direct signal on both sides of the stereo image means that the sound is only enhanced by the chorus effect and the strength isn't impaired. 2) is very close to the Roland Jazz Chorus effect i.e., one side straight, the other side chorused; but still needs a stereo setup. 3) gives as good a mono chorus as I've ever heard and is ideal for anybody who only uses one amp. Incidentally, output A used on its own is actually the sum of A and B, i.e. the in phase and out of phase chorus signals added together. If only in phase chorus is required (and this can be quite subtle), a blank jack in output B will break the connection between the channels.
The CE-300 is designed to take an input from virtually any electronic instrument but not from a microphone - so if you want to chorus the vocals, you'll have to feed the Super Chorus from the mixer or some other pre-amp. Input level is, of course, fully adjustable within its range, and an LED display shows this leveL I found that input level was quite critical on this unit; it was best to keep the general level to around 0dB, thus avoiding any possibility of distortion (occasional peaks of +6dB were okay).
I actually only used the CE-300 Super Chorus on keyboards, but as the Roland Chorus was originally designed with guitar in mind I have no doubt that this new product would also be an invaluable addition to any guitarist's range of effects; not to mention vocalists, didgeridoo players, et al. Studios might also consider it a worthwhile investment at only £250 retail. All in all a welcome addition to an already comprehensive range of Boss pedals and effects.
RRP £250 Inc VAT
Boss info from Roland (U.K.) Ltd., (Contact Details)
Review by Nick Graham
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