Posts Tagged ‘Chorus’

DOD FX65B Stereo Chorus

Friday, July 8th, 2016

DOD-FX65B-StChorus

What is it?
DOD FX65B Stereo Chorus. Made in USA, early 1997.

Number of things to take a look at here! To begin with, the cool info at America’s pedal tells us that this model was an entry level chorus that was added to the FX series line-up in 1997 – and discontinued the following year. Entry level pricing and pretty much modern standard set of controls, but the manufacturing spanned over 1997 and 1998 only, which means that the number of manufactured units cannot be extremely high – in case you are wondering about that, you should check what other models DOD had going for them during that period. Yup. This is not the only new one presented during the spring of 1997. And what’s obvious, the FX65B was a successor for FX65 chorus that was initially released in 1985. The B-version has no internal trimpots, while the delay line configuration remains per the previous model.  The FX65/B both utilize MN3007 BBD which is driven by MN3101 cl0ck (the same configuration as found in Boss CE-2/3 by the way – which will no doubt lead to me comparing this to CE-2…).

DOD-FX65B-StChorus-guts

The LFO, mixing and buffering are done with three dual opamps, namely JRC4560. The non-B version has had number of revisions before this design, so the opamps have also been different during the 12 year run of the DOD FX-series budget chorus. The number of revisions were mostly seen at Due to board layout and opamp configuration, i’m leaning towards declaring this and its predecessors CE-2 derivatives. Most likely one of the opamp chips is performing as LFO, other as in/out buffers that include pre- and de-emphasis filtering. If the anti-aliasing filters are in place as they are in CE-2, then those are likely done with opamps instead of transistors. The three knob control set does suffice and offer very decent range of control. While the controls are not verbatim to CE-2, the main issue still stands…

How does it sound?
Not bad, but not ground breaking either. In 1997-98, this model has most likely had the best price/tone factor of all the units in the stores. If there is some unexplainable magic to the MN3007 BBD, then it is present here too. Sounding like a pretty basic, yet musical chorus and having nice, working set of controls, there’s little that can go wrong. And yes. There is a lot in common in terms of sound and tone with the heavily praised CE-2. So to acquire one of these (or the predecessor without the “B”) for current street prices is way more appealing idea than to hunt down a working CE-2 or CE-3 for at least three times the money. Sure this does not sound exactly like the praised classic, but still, this sounds very good and i see very little wrong with it.

Danelectro DC-1 Cool Cat Chorus

Sunday, June 7th, 2015

Danelectro-DC1-18V-CoolCatChorus

What is it?
Danelectro DC-1 Cool Cat Chorus, the original 18V version. Made in china, 1996.

Again? Didn’t i write about this already? Well. I did, but with the later 9V version. This is the first edition that runs on 18V. Are there a lot of differences between these two? Well. Not that much, but i thought this would still warrant the overview. On the outside, the differences are minute. The only noticeable thing is the “18V” note next to the power supply jack. Once the bottom plate is removed, there are two battery snaps in place.

Danelectro-DC1-18V-CoolCatChorus-guts1

This is definitely the most interesting thing about the whole series. As the enclosure is the same for all “original series” boxes, there is this dual battery slot present in every single one. The reason must be that the 18V DC-1 was designed first and i’m assuming there were plans to use the 18V supply voltage on later models as well. Other 18V units never happened, but the dual slot remained in every pedal. Which is quite funny considering that the Dan-Echo uses only 5V for its entire operation. Due to two batteries and the doubled supply requirement, the jack board is slightly different too.

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Rest of the circuit remains closer to the latter 9V version. As Dano pedals come, this is the most beautiful board design in them all. Completely filled and there is something that reminds me of Ibanez L-series boxes with extremely crowded boards a bit. Tight squeezing also resembles some of the old japanese boards i’ve seen. Although this isn’t as packed as, for example, the Pearl Electro Echo. No standing resistors.

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The factory that was chosen to build these had their quality high gear on with this first run. This doesn’t mean that the later pedals are done in a sloppier manner, but the plant was obviously not in a hurry when they produced these.

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Either way. It’s very close to the latter 9V version by all the other standards. And by design. I’d go as far as saying this is the Danelecto equivalent of Maxon/Ibanez FL-301/FL-301DX. Same box with same design. Just different power supply requirement. And that does affect one thing…

How does it sound?
Great. Fat and lush. Extended headroom and simply beautiful swirls. Definite competitor to Boss CE-2. I do not pull this card out too easily.. But. I think it’s warranted here. Very good sounding chorus that shows dedication to detail from the design crew. I’m fairly certain the world was expecting a lot from Danelectro when these came out in 1996. Sadly, it’s been quite a steep downhill ride from there. But this unit is really top notch. No way around it. Possible the best Danelectro pedal ever.

Digitech XBC Bass Multi Chorus

Sunday, May 31st, 2015

Digitech-XBC-BassMultiChorus

What is it?
Digitech XBC Bass Multi Chorus from X-series. Made in china around late 00’s.

Makes seriously wonder i should just sell all the X-series pedals i currently have. Opening the first one back when i did was a severe “meh” situation that offered very little to be interest about. Opening the second one made this feeling even deeper. Nothing wrong in digital designs, but the hard core recycling lowers my interest to the point where i simply don’t see myself collecting the series to the full. This one here.. It’s blue and it’s a bass chorus. I did already know what expect when i opened this one up.

Digitech-XBC-BassMultiChorus-guts1

Yup. There are only two different boards in this series. The one with digital control as a potentiometer and the one with a rotary switch. This one os the former. All the units have the same Harman branded AudioDNA DSP chip in them. The same analog signal path for the buffering and AD/DA converters for every pedal in the series. The paint and print on the enclosure change, as do the programming of the DSP. Delay and reverb of the series have one more chip attached to the board, but it’s still the same board. Being an analog enthusiast, the secrets behind the software does not appeal to me.

Digitech-XBC-BassMultiChorus-guts2

How much more boring can a pedal series get? The same exact board with different software code. Even if the tone is sufficiently good, the appeal is not there. I might just photograph the ones i have and just let them go..

How does it sound?
Sure. These do not sound bad. Rather generic chorus with decent control range. For an all digital, software based chorus, i’d says it’s a very good sounding thing. Just slightly lacking in personality, but otherwise very ok. It’s not the tone that’s pushing me away. No, not at all. It’s the lack of interesting electronics. If was to record some bass tracks today, this unit would not make it even near to what i’d choose to use for the session.

Peavey CMC-1 Companded Chorus

Friday, May 8th, 2015

Peavey-CMC1-CompandedChorus

What is it?
Peavey CMC-1 Companded Chorus. Made in USA around 1987 or 1988.

I’m not sure if this series has a name. At least quick searching didn’t yield one. Not that it matters that much. It’s the series Peavey marketed in the mid-80’s and it has various effects in rather cool housing. This one’s blue, so we can be certain it’s a chorus. The box is very decent and should take a punch and years on the road with no issues.

Peavey-CMC1-CompandedChorus-guts1

I did talk about the housing a bit on the Hot Foot Distortion post before, so there’s nothing new here. Just very solid box design that i’d call sturdy. Electronics come together with three parts. One for controls, one for jacks and one for the main board. The jack and control boards are connected to each other with pins and the main board connects to the control board with pin headers and a ribbon cable.

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Everything is fastened with screws and there will be nothing moving around without a sledgehammer. Unless we unscrew the screws, obviously. I was expecting to see a similar board as in Hot Foot, but not this time. Actually. I was rather surprised to see a surface mount board. It is neat though.

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And full. All SMD, except for the clock and delay chips, status indicator LED and the MEC stomp switch. The main method of switching is very likely to be the same as in Hot foot, but that’s the only common thing in addition to board fastening methods and control/jack boards. As the name suggests, the circuit is companded chorus. After buffering we have NE571 dual compander chip. The other half is squeezing the signal to be fed to the MN3007 BBD delay line (which is LFO controlled by MN3101 clock). Then the chorused signal is widened back by the other half of the NE571, buffered and spewed out.

Peavey-CMC1-CompandedChorus-guts4

If some of you are not aware why would a designer use a compander before and after the delay line, the answer is rather simple. With a compander, the audible noise content of the signal disappears when it’s processed like this. And then you might ask what this means for the sound of the pedal.. Well.

How does it sound?
Very much Boss CE-2 style smooth and overtaking chorus. The companded idea takes the noise out, so the analog delay line sounds pristine. Controls range is wider than what the CE-2 offers, but not by that much. Actually the overall tone does resemble the Boss classic a lot. Even the clock+BBD are the same. So in essence this sounds close, with slightly better controls and less noise content. Not a bad chorus at all. One of my current favourites.

Boss MZ-2 Digital Metalizer

Sunday, March 8th, 2015

Boss-MZ2

What is it?
Boss MZ-2 Digital Metalizer from Boss Compact series. Made in japan, july 1988.

Now, since i’ve lately been looking at these late 80’s analog/digital hybrids, this may be a decent unit to continue with. We are looking at Boss’ take on the distortion plus delay/chorus effects that were widely available back in the day. DOD had it’s own as “Hard Rock Distortion” and Ibanez shuffled the deck with its Session Man pedals. I’m quite sure there were others trying to take the markets too. There sure was i time and demand for this kind of combination back then. While the competition had the delay and chorus lines done mostly by analog methods, Boss aimed for the moon and made it digital, while leaving the distortion part analog.

Once the bottom plate is removed, my reaction was to freeze for a few seconds. Wow. Part of the traces look like good old japanese hand drawn beauty, but the digital signal processor’s small traces try to keep up with the old school design. Those thin, round traces at the right hand side of the DSP look very pleasing.

Boss-MZ2-guts1

As with other digital Boss pedals of the era, the mixture of through hole components and SMD parts is in place. In addition to having two separate, stacked boards to accommodate everything. While these combo effects do not interest me all that much, i must say i find this unit very appealing.

Boss-MZ2-guts2

What comes to controls, we have our basic three knob layout for the distortion part, including gain/distortion, tone and volume. The digital section has only presets for being off, having couple of different choruses and delays on or off at the same time. Lack of more controls to the digital part feels kind of boring, but the presets are actually quite good. Sadly, i couldn’t find a schematic of the analog board to confirm how the distortion part is made up. I think there may be similarities with other Boss distortions, but there must be something different in there too.

How does it sound?
Very much usable distortion. Kind of like DS-2, but with certain amount of personality thrown in. For the distortion side, this may very well be one rare boss effects with a real personality. They could have offered the distortion part as a separate pedal, but since the modulation/delay can be turned off, it doesn’t matter all that much. For the delay and chorus modes.. Well. If you want the sound of a late 80’s hair metal lead solo for your tapping pleasures, this is the pedal that you really need. It is fun to play around with this. Sure enough, it kicks the living daylights out of the competition.

I’m sort of glad that this type of combination isn’t “in” here in the mid-2010s. This is due to change once someone rediscovers the MZ-2 and manages to make a hit with it…

Marshall RG-1 Regenerator

Sunday, March 8th, 2015

Marshall-RG1-Regenerator

What is it?
Marshall RG-1 Regenerator multi-modulation effect. Made in china, possibly around early 00’s

Digital chorus/phase/flange multieffect in the small metal series? Apparently yes. And once we open it up, there’s very little doubt of what the design is all about. Yup. It’s exactly the same board as seen in Echohead and Reflector.

Marshall-RG1-Regenerator-guts1

All these three are sisters with the same topology of TI DSP, Atmel and BSI chips. As we’ve seen with many other modern digital designs, the electronics are all the same, but the code burned n and the label on the top are the only differentiating factors.

Marshall-RG1-Regenerator-guts2

Mostly the pedal is well made and definitely represents the top quality of current chinese manufacturing. It could be that the Marshall quality control is strict, or at least stricter than for what we find in many other current chinese made brands with a low price point.

Marshall-RG1-Regenerator-guts3

I recently saw a same enclosure used with completely different brand on eBay. Sort of like when Daphon started to sell their own “soundtank-like” pedals as E10-series. Wonder how the british mother company feels about that. Anyway. The pedal has decent set of features and while the digital point makes the sound boringly predictable..

How does it sound?
It is still quite versatile sounding unit. Lacking in taste, scent and personality, but still pretty good. Two chorus modes are not surprising, as the flanger, phaser and vibe modes. The step phaser tries to mimic the random stepping of the Boss PH-3, and succeeds to a certain level. The expression pedal input is a very nice feature that adds a lot usability to the tones produced. To sum it up, this would be a nice entry level multi-modulation pedal for anyone who may need one. Nothing great, but nothing too disappointing. These are widely available and one should be able to score one for peanuts as used unit.

DigiPlay CH-70 Chorus

Sunday, October 19th, 2014

DigiPlay-CH70-Chorus

What is it?
Digiplay CH-70 Stereo Chorus. Made in japan in early 80’s.

Saw this unit up for sale with a price tag of small pack of peanuts. What was i to do, but to get it. The switch was acting up, but simply cleaning it up with suitable chemicals did the trick. I didn’t know much about Digiplay boxes, other that they are from japan and vintage. Heck, i still don’t know much more. There isn’t that much of documentation around of Digiplay boxes. For now, the best source of extra information is Effectsdatabase. FXDB knows that the unit is basically one of those pretty generic designs that emerged in early 80’s. Apparently the box is pretty much the same as Wasburn’s most acclaimed chorus, the A-SC7. And close to Loco Box CH-1.

DigiPlay-CH70-Chorus-guts1

As with many others, there may have been one designer and one manufacturer for all these generic boxes. But why should it matter if there are about ten brands out there with the same exact effect? I do not know any reason why it should. No matter about the prestige of the brand or design, here we have extremely pleasing acid trip traces on vintage japanese style board.

DigiPlay-CH70-Chorus-guts2

Clean hand soldered board, but wait a minute? CD-chip and the BBD+clock have been sanded? Apparently sanding the markings out isn’t a new trick brought to us by bad boutique designers, but it has been around for a long time. Yes, the estimate of DIP-14 chip being a CD4000 series chip and those two DIP-8s being BBD and a clock is pure speculation. But it is a chorus, so chances are the chips are some sort of vibrator/BBD/clock combo.

DigiPlay-CH70-Chorus-guts3

I’m about 99,99% sure the design is all analog. Could the brand name be a hint of simpler times when everything digital was a huge advantage as a selling point? In general, the work and wiring is neat. Everything is looking like it should. This is one of those well made japanese units from early 80’s.

How does it sound?
Usable, soft and nice. But very generic and rather faceless. The sound is exactly what you’d expect from any two knobbed stereo chorus pedal of the era. There is a reason why Ibanez CS9 and Boss CE-2 are pricey classics and Wasburn/Loco Box/Digiplay choruses aren’t. One does get close with a fraction of a price and let’s face it – if you are playing gothic rock, you’d be better of with this unit than one of the highly praised ones. Not bad. Not too great either.

Boss CH-1 Super Chorus

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

Boss-CH1

What is it?
Boss CH-1 Super Chorus. Made in taiwan, november 2001.

At one point i woke up to a feeling. I had tons of effect pedals, but zero Boss brand choruses. That felt extremely weird, as these effects in Boss catalog are usually praised pedals. So what was i to do, bet to get me some. First i scored a CE-3 stereo chorus through auction site listing (i’ve talked about that unit earlier on..) and second, i grabbed this one as used from around here. As usual, i checked the serial number against the Bossarea decoder and checked some facts about the design as well. What do you know. Just my luck. This unit is one of the very first CH-1s to exit the factory with newly revamped SMD board inside. Just a month older, and it would have been the one with a pink label and a MN3007 as a powering BBD.

Boss-CH1-guts1

The original CH-1 was apparently a derivative of CE-2/CE-3, with added blend/mix control and a tone control, which allowed the user to set the audio frequencies processed by the chorus. But since the changes between the old design and this one is pretty huge, i honestly wonder why this wasn’t marketed as CH-2? The changes would have definitely warranted that. But then again. We have DD-2 and DD-3 delays which have the exact same circuit inside, but for some reason the model number was changed. Peculiarities are sometimes fun, but… Everything about the design look even newer than the actual manufacturing date, but i guess that’s to be expected.

Boss-CH1-guts2

At the first look the board looks a bit like just SMD version of the original. We do know that DDBs come in surface mount packaging too. And the long chip could be a CMOS chip to handle the electronic switching. But no. Closer look revels that there aren’t any BBDs present. Just a digital 20K Itri Erso ES56028 echo processor chip.

I haven’t had a pleasure of comparing this against the  previous version. I highly doubt these two sound anything alike. At least the delay line is different enough to warrant this assumption.

How does it sound?
Decent chorus, nevertheless. Mix control is nice addition when we want to dial in smooth and ambient chorus tones. Tone affects the frequencies chorused, rather than the overall tone. Another feature that gives more to the sound than one would think.While all Boss choruses have a great reputation, i tend to see one fault in all of them. The range of LFO speed feels to be always from too slow to slow. Same thing here. If we disregard that, we have good controls and nice chorus sounds. Not  perfect, and i’d still choose my CE-3 over this in a heartbeat every time. If you get one for ridiculously cheap, then get one. I may keep my eyes out if i happen to run into the pink labeled version at some point. Comparison test would definitely be worth a post…

Boss CE-3 Chorus

Sunday, August 3rd, 2014

Boss-CE3

What is it?
Boss CE-3 Chorus, made in taiwan, august 1988.

Boss choruses are all praised, even though the CE-3 has less reputation if compared the obvious classics like CE-1 and CE-2. With less reputation comes a less numbers on the price tag on auction listings. This particular unit is one of the very first CE-3s to come out of taiwan plant. CE-3 is the first Boss chorus with stereo output and there are couple of interesting things on the pedal. Like the position of the three knobs. Bossarea has more information listed.

Boss-CE3-guts1

Board design is pretty with old school traces, but disturbing asymmetry on the layout. There is a schematic up on Synthdiy. Design is pretty common with two 4558s to drive the signal after the FET buffer and after the BBD modulation stage. The modulation stage is based on MN3207, a 1024 stage analog bucket brigade device. That chip is controlled by a MN3102 clock. Rate and depth are controlled by LFO, constructed with one TL022.

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Stereo operation can be used to push zero and reverse phases to their own outputs, like many modern stereo choruses.

In general, everything about this unit is great. Vintage feel to the design, construction and it even offers some eye candy being as ugly as it is. And the most important part is yet to come..

How does it sound?
Soft and natural chorus. May not be as mellow and 70’s sounding than CE-1 and CE-2, but there isn’t that cold harsh detune around that, at least in my opinion, kills the usability of countless chorus designs. Depth control is sufficient, but i was surprised how slow the Rate is, even when maxed. This is a feature that makes the unit have a soul of its own.

Definitely one of the best sounding vibe-like chorus pedals in the price range.

Nux MF6 Digital Multi FX

Thursday, May 1st, 2014

Nux-MF6-DigitalMFX

What is it?
Nux MF6 Digital Multi FX from the Nux First Series. Made in china in 00’s.

Whole Nux pedal line has been quite interesting line. Some of the designs are straight rip offs, but while the underlying design may be just that, the rest is well engineered and somewhat original. The “First Series”, as i’m going to be referring these units, have nice and personal enclosure design. According to interwebs, Nux is originally nothing more but a sub-brand of Cherub. Folks at Cherub may have wanted to build another brand that seems more prestigious. And they have, more or less, succeeded in that venture.

The enclosure is your standard medium strenght cast aluminium box with good rubber bottom and durable feeling plastic parts. The battery slot is accessible through the pedal lid, and its lid is the cheapest feeling part in whole unit.

Nux-MF6-DigitalMFX-ctrls

Controls on the top are one rotary switch for mode and four standard pots (one dual gang) for setting the parameters of the selected effect. In short, the effects this unit offers are tremolo, rotary, flanger, chorus, multivoice (which is one repeat dual delay in reality) and modulation delay. Others seem to have nice operation range, but the modulation on the mod delay can be turned off. So that the pedal can be used as a delay unit too. All in all, the number of usable effects is nothing short of impressive. And we should not forget about the stereo output and expression pedal input. So yes. There are quite a lot of features in this cheap pedal.

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When taking a look under the hood, we see modern SMD board with relatively dull view. Flipping the board over shows what one would expect. It is, like the name suggests, a fully digital design. Once again i’m going to leave you with less analysis since my knowledge of all digital circuitry is very limited. There are couple of digital chips in addition to a few opamps. And a oscillator crystal. Feels a bit like a computer now doesn’t it…

Nux-MF6-DigitalMFX-guts2

I got the unit cheap as used one from a local dude. I didn’t have high hopes for it, but since i was, and still am, somewhat fond of the New Analog Series pedals, i wanted to try this one out too. The conclusion?

How does it sound?
Surprisingly good. There’s no negative thin digital feel to any of the modes. Most of the modulation types easily beat some of their analog counterparts. That’s what you won’t hear often from me. Most of the settings are usable. Overall sound is good. Or maybe even great. I do love it when a design offers more than i expected. Well worth a try if you spot used one for cheap.