Posts Tagged ‘Flanger’

Ibanez FLL Flanger

Saturday, May 9th, 2015

Ibanez-FLL-Flanger

What is it?
Ibanez FLL Flanger from L-, or Master series. Made in Japan, 1985.

Now, there is a reason why i’m posting this one right now. I just wrote a post about the SF10, Swell Flanger. Due to that article, there is very little to say about FLL. It’s is the same effect with minor cosmetic differences, which i already disclosed on the SF10 article. I know i’m repeating myself, but these differences are the visual appearance, the stomp lid and the pots.

Ibanez-FLL-Flanger-guts1

Trying to write something truly meaningful about this after the SF10 would be like writing two completely different articles about TS7 and TS7C. Sure. In that case there wouldn’t be any other difference but the colour. Here there are a few minor things, but again. I just wrote about them. Twice.

So why don’t we just enjoy the photos this time?

Ibanez-FLL-Flanger-guts2

..and don’t even try to come up with profound differences. There is very little time between the two units manufacture dates and there is practically zero difference in the electronic design. Even though this design lasted for nearly a decade in production in couple of different forms, the main reason to even try to say something about these is…

How does it sound?
The sound. These all sound great. Versatile and more than just usable. A solid standard in analog flangers.

I’ll try to take some time between these post and the forthcoming FL9 post. Just to get a bit more out of the third Maxon designed flanger that shares the design with this and the SF10.

Ibanez SF10 Swell Flanger

Saturday, May 9th, 2015

Ibanez-SF10-SwellFlanger

What is it?
Ibanez SF10 Swell Flanger from Ibanez 10-, or Power series. Made in Japan, 1987.

Swell. I have no idea where the name comes from. But does it matter? Probably not. Solid 10-series pedal with nothing off from the rest of the bunch. The series is rather large with “only” 36 titles in it. And when we take in to account that this series wasn’t manufactured for too long (from around ’86 to ’89 – less than four years), there are bound to be some recycling on the designs from earlier series. The number of different units and the vast number units being traded at auction sites makes me think that the Maxon factory had to be running on full between 1986 and 1989.

Ibanez-SF10-SwellFlanger-guts1

Board and build quality is on par with the others in the series and also on par with the L/Master series. After all, both series were made in japan. Actually, the difference between the series are minor. The rubber mat on top of the stomp lid vs. the hard plastic lid and the slightly cheaper pots. Of course the naming of the units and slight visual differences too. But for the main boards, these two series are a very close to each other. Now that i remember, i’ve actually seen more Master series units with broken pots than Power series units with the same fault. Funny. Most folks will simply repeat the mantra found on numerous forums – “the power series pots are worse than the good pots on master series”. Due to my limited empirical experience, no. That is not correct. Sure the Master series pots feel sturdier. But right now, i’m not that convinced about them being simply “better”.

Ibanez-SF10-SwellFlanger-guts2

To get on with it, this design is the newest of the bunch. Meaning that the four knob flanger design we all love to play around was first introduced as 9-series unit, FL9 in the early 80’s (this FL9 design is a derivative of FL-301 and the other older Maxon/Ibanez flangers). This circuit was then redrawn for the Master series and sold as FLL Flanger. And then we have the SF10, which uses the same exact PCB as the FLL. So it is the same effect in yellow enclosure instead of greyish black. And since this is the same effect…

How does it sound?
It sounds exactly like FL9 and FLL. Deep, powerful flanger with great set of controls. This unit goes from that glassy, brittle, static and thin tone all the way to the airplane territory. In addition to those two ends, there is everything in the middle. A chorusey flange, a vibrato-like wobble and so on. Exactly like a great flanger unit should. What more can i say? Versatile flanger that will suit most situations where flanger is needed. A classic. And a standard in great flanger units.

If you are in denial about greatness and proper use of flangers, this (or any of its sister models) is the unit to try out.

Ibanez FL-301 Flanger

Sunday, March 29th, 2015

Ibanez-FL-301

What is it?
Ibanez FL-301 Flanger from “0-Series”. Made in japan in 1980.

I used to own the DX version back in the day. Difference between this, the first 0-series flanger and the second DX version is the operational voltage. This puppy demands 18 Volts, while the De Luxe version promises the same tones with half of that. Got this unit in a trade and i must say i’m rather happy with it.

Opened it up and everything looks almost as it should. I’m not convinced about the battery snap joint for the second red lead, but otherwise the unit looks pretty much untouched. Since this operates with 18V, there’s a chance the most use has been with a batteries. Which would in part mean that those snaps would have been broken at one point. After all, the age of the unit is 35 years at the time i’m writing this. What comes to the aesthetics, this has been in use. A lot.

Ibanez-FL-301-guts1

The most pleasing part is the circuit. Old school Maxon board design that will always get my smile out. Acidy trace corners and mojo soldering. Nothing new, but always pleasing. To flip the board over, we have a full house. TL-chips for buffering, mixing and LFO and the delay line is made with MN3007 BBD and MN3101 clock. There is a factory schematic in the wild, so one can check it. I should probably check the caps someday soon. Couple of the joints on solder side look a bit darkened..

Ibanez-FL-301-guts2

Aside from being a beautiful relic, the pedal has decent controls too. I didn’t touch any of the three trimmers as i didn’t any reason to do so. There are speed and width controls for the LFO and one more control for feedback of the delay line, called regeneration. Solid and beautiful. I sure do hope i get more chances to acquire 0-series and other old Ibanez boxes. These just feel so right.

How does it sound?
Since the purchase of Rolls Vibraflange ages ago, i started to look for different things in flanger tones. Previously i was just after the choruses with longer delay times, the velcro airplanes and vibrato substitutes. The Rolls unit taught my that some flangers can and will do more. With mild enough settings, the modulated delay will just affect the high frequencies in audible manner. Which isn’t the everyday flanger tone, but it sure brightens the clean guitar sound up. Not all flangers are able to achieve that. That may be the biggest reason that Rolls Vibraflange turned me around. You may now think why i keep bringing that unit up in a FL-301 article. Because FL-301 can do the same things as Vibraflange.

And it can do those velcro airplanes, choruses and vibrato substitutions. With such a low number of controls, the versatility is amazing. From mild bright bringer to a vibe to a chorus to a velcro airplane. It’s all in there with a hint of yesterday and another hint of beauty. In a nutshell, this is a great sounding unit with certain special something going for it. I do think the 18V may have something to do 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.

Digitech XTF Turbo Flanger

Thursday, February 19th, 2015

Digitech-XTF-TurboFlanger

What is it?
Digitech XTF Turbo Flanger from X-series. Made in china around late 00’s.

Saw this going for a decent price and just couldn’t let it go. Played around with it for a while and i was ready to call it before opening the bottom. Not an exception to the rule, but simply yet another Digitech board shared with the rest of the series. Opening it confirmed my suspicion. As with almost all X-series pedals, this too has the same board with same chip as the others. The PCI-style interface pins on the lower right corner is a dead giveaway.

Digitech-XTF-TurboFlanger-guts1

So the design is nothing to write about since i’ll be just repeating myself over and over again. The code, box color and the labels are the only thing separating this from all the other boxes from X-series with a switch as a right hand side knob. So instead of going through the general idea of digital effects again, let’s just focus on the features instead.

Digitech-XTF-TurboFlanger-guts2

For controls, the Speed, Depth and Regen (a.k.a. feedback) are quite the standard. For analog designs, the additional controls usually affect the delay time and therefore alter the overall tone. After all, all the flangers are effects that have a LFO (low frequency oscillator) controlling the delay line time in sync with the LFO. Turbo Flange here doesn’t say anything about the delay times, but it has seven modes to go with. Voices 1-3 are pretty standard flangers, and same could be stated about the rise/fall and trigger up/down modes. For most interesting part, the 7th mode is 7-step which randomly (at least it seems random) selects the next step frequency in the LFO pulse. This would have blown my socks off if i hadn’t seen similar feature before. That’ll be Boss PH-3.

How does it sound?
If this wasn’t so sterile in its tone, i’d rank this very high. I could see myself using this for parallel guitar loops when recording. Maybe even for a bass with similar application. The seven modes offer quite a nice set of different digital flanger modes. My gut feeling is that this sounds very decent for an all digital unit. However, it’s not even close to the greatness of Ibanez DFL, which has nice digital design that springs from the analog world. This one here is simply a digital software effect in a stompbox form, with relatively low power consumption. Good, but maybe still not good enough. The 7-step mode is great thing to have on a flanger and it’s not every unit that you’ll come across to have this feature. Probably most of the VST-plugins will carry this feature, but you most likely will not carry VST-plugins in your pedal board. I like it, but not enough to call it great or a favourite.

Rolls RFX970 Vibraflange

Tuesday, January 6th, 2015

Rolls-RFX970-Vibraflange

What is it?
Rolls RFX970 Vibraflange. Made in USA, 1993.

For some reason i wasn’t aware the amount of stuff in the back catalog of this company called Rolls. The reasonably priced headphone amplifiers and patch bays i did know. But then again, the main reason might also be that the bigger part of  Rolls catalog has been paraded in the US a lot more then here in europe. This thing caught my eye on auction listings. The price was cheap and the shipping plus taxes weren’t too high either so i thought i’d give it a go. Once the parcel arrived i felt pretty enthusiastic. Had to try it out right away. But there were a slight problem in the paradise that day. Effect turned on an everything seemed to be in order, but the LFO didn’t seem to pulse correctly. After a short debugging session, i was aware of the issue’s nature. The speed pot didn’t connect properly inside the pot. And during this investigation, i got pretty certain why. The original board mounted pots were the worst pots i’ve ever seen in a production pedal. Ever. Cheapest things with tendency of disconnecting the sweeper if the pot were bent a fraction of a millimetre to suitable direction. Sure, i contacted the US seller, asked and got a partial refund, since the issue was most likely present when he shipped it out. It couldn’t have appeared during the shipping since the broken pot was one of the middle ones. So i got my partial refund (thanks to the seller, if you happen to read  this) and went on to replace those crappy parts for something that works. I had to widen the pot holes a bit to get the industry standard Alpha brand pot shafts to fit through the panel, but otherwise the task wasn’t too massive. Instead of original board mounted cheapos, i now have hand wired, panel mounted, sturdy pots in there. And the unit works as it was originally intended to. I had to replace the knobs though. Originals were flying high on the standard 17mm shafted pots i normally use. Black knobs, so the visual difference isn’t too remarkable.

While the unit was open i could straight away see how, when and with what the unit was made. My first surprise was the date codes on the electrolytics. Year 1993. I was aware of the fact that David Oreste Di Francesco formed DOD in 1973 and that he went on to build Rolls electronics afterwards, but i had no idea Di Francesco had started Rolls that early, at the time DOD was still its prime. (Please do correct me if i have any of this information wrong.) Anyway, the board design looks very familiar to those who have been inside any DOD FX series pedal. The feel and look of the design doesn’t differ much.

Rolls-RFX970-Vibraflange-guts

Of course i was assuming this would be an analog design with BBD involved instead of seeing anything digital, but the use of MN3207 and a MN3102 for its driver was still a pleasant surprise. Like i just said, the board design looks and feels a lot like most circuits we find in DOD FX series. This is not  a bad thing at all. It feels more warm, fuzzy and home-like to see this design method elsewhere.

For the features and controls we have two stomp switches, one for bypass and second for activation of “Mode 1”. I currently have no idea what this “mode” actually  does, but the overall tone of the pedal gets softer once it’s on. For the knobs, we have Depth, which controls the intensity of the flanging, Speed, which controls the rate of the LFO pulse, Manual, which affects the LFO’s intensity and a Peak, which controls how high the Q will get on the highest part of the LFO sweep. Quite a pack of controls for a flanger that, at first, seems pretty basic.

How does it sound?
Nothing like a basic flanger or the image of a basic flanger you currently have in your mind. I was blown away once started to play around with this.With zero speed setting, the tone of the pedal is like mild, shimmering octave up with nice glassy feel to it. The controls allow setting the tone from that to a vibrato, that i can call a vibrato (in reality not too many phasers or flangers get to this area). And this can also stretch to that classic velcro’ed airplane flange. Versatile modulation sounds with all the good and bad that comes with the use of analog BBD chips. This thing sounds just amazing.

One can always change the bad pots to something else if needed. But if the design sounds awesome… I may need to keep my eye out if i happen to come across some other units from this RFX pedal series with reasonable price tags.

Boss BF-2 Flanger

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

Boss-BF2

What is it?
Boss BF-2 Flanger. Made in taiwan. No serial number and no enclosure date stamps.

Even the electrolytic capacitors have no date codes. So it’s nearly impossible to determine the date accurately. My best guess would be 1993, since dual opamp codes point to that direction. The japanese units apparently have all black knobs and the change to white top knobs happened around the time manufacturing moved to taiwan in late 80’s. All the 00’s units i’ve seen have enclosure stamps on the stomp lid insides, but this one doesn’t. I’m going to let myself believe the unit is from ’93 and stop thinking about it.

Boss-BF2-guts1

Board design in on par with earlier Boss pedals. This means that every little part of the design is japanese and the manufacturing only is done in taiwan. There are some of that super cool acidy feel on the traces and no sight of machine routing. It’s a pretty thing, that’s what it is. As a tiny history lesson, the circuit of BF-2 Flanger did take a long time in being a current device. The design was first introduced in 1980 and it discontinued as late as 2001. This and a few other facts are up at Boss Area. Check that out too. The schematic is up at Hobby Hour dot com.

Boss-BF2-guts2

As the electronics go, my unit accepts the notorious Boss ACA power supply only. I’m not sure (and the Boss Area doesn’t say), but i think the later units were modified to be used with more standard-like PSA supply. This means that there is a zener diode dropping the unregulated supply voltage to what the effect needs. There will be issues if this unit is powered with modern standard power supply all by itself. Daisy chained with other – then there’s no problem. Anyway. The buffering and mixing is handled by two 4558 dual opamps. TL072 in some units (IR9022 in mine) is the LFO and the delay line is done with MN3207, a 1024 stage BBD and a MN3102 clock. So yes. Nothing special about it. Makes a great, solid, and versatile design though.

The controls are Manual (affects the LFO operation), Depth (intensity), Rate (the speed of the LFO) and “Res”. “Res” is short for resonance. Or in this case, we get a bit clearer picture of its function if we would just simply call it feedback.

How does it sound?
Very good. This unit is capable of mild chorus and vibrato to near airplane swooshes. It does not do anything special or have a distinct personality in its tone, but it is a very good sounding analog flanger. As a cardinal sin of Boss modulation effects, the rate range could be wider, but even that is better here than it is on Boss chorus effects. A classic.

Carlsbro Minifex Flanger

Saturday, September 6th, 2014

Carlsbro-Minifex-Flanger

What is it?
Carlsbro Minifex Flanger. Possibly made in asia around late 80’s.

Carlsbro effects have been around for a long time. Carlsbro as a company is better known for amplifiers, but their pedal ventures started all the way back in beginning of the 70’s. First units Carlsbro was selling were OEM’d Sola Sound designs. Later there were the “Alu” series of massive enclosures and following those, the Minifex series.

There is very little information available on these units. I’d be interested to know who designed these, who manufactured these for Carlsbro and even more importantly, when. Designs of the two stacked boards seem like japanese origin (just a hunch), but the board manufacturing methods look a lot like early pedal boom at chinese factories. It could be manufactured in japan or korea too, but for some reason i find that hard to believe.

Carlsbro-Minifex-Flanger-guts

Notable things designwise are definitely a SAD512 BBD and a “roll-your-own” style optoisolator. My guess would be that the CD4007 is acting as a flip-flip for the bypass switching, but design doesn’t look too familiar.

Carlsbro-Minifex-Flanger-guts2

Pots are shaftless type and the knobs are simply pushed inside them. Every IC is socketed and there are tons of things that i find, for some not so obvious reason, fascinating. Sure there are some caveats. All plastic box with super cheap feel to it, plus it only runs on a battery.

Carlsbro-Minifex-Flanger-guts3

Traces look like they have been produced with cheapest methods available. This isn’t too big of a problem, but it keeps the unit from getting my complete attention. Solder joints are looking neater than what one would expect.

Carlsbro-Minifex-Flanger-guts4

Pedal has reasonable build quality for the price range. One of these plastic peculiarities that may have been sunken to the void for a reason. I personally like it, even though it is what it is. It would be very interesting to get my hands on other boxes from this series…

How does it sound?
Pretty standard with nothing too special . Still pretty slush with some personal character to it. For the plastic feel of the box, the sound is surprisingly good. For those massive airplane flanges, look elsewhere. This has the vintage slush that many players want from their flangers. It is definitely not the worst flnger around. If these were growing in trees, i would probably rehouse one with true bypass and modern power jack to get the sound with me. With battery operated plastic box? No. I’m not taking this anywhere from home. The sound is still better than with most current production analog flangers.

Boss HF-2 Hi-Band Flanger

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

Boss-HF2

What is it?
Boss HF-2 HiBand Flanger from compact series. Made in japan, august 1988.

Japan made HF-2 is probably the most praised flanger, not only in Boss catalog, but otherwise too. While the “standard” Boss flanger may be and have been the BF-2 for decades, the HF-2 operates in slightly different manner. While most flangers mix the whole incoming signal with delayed duplicate (controlled by LFO to create the sweep), this Hi Band Flanger takes the incoming signal and splits it in two ways. Other stays as it is and the other is pushed to up octave which then has the flanging delay mixed into. Or so they say. That idea sure has some out of the box thinking in there.

Boss-HF2-guts1

The board is full and still looking rather pleasing. The old school board manufacturing methods always please the eye. The delay section of the flanger isn’t anything special. It ihas MN3102 for the clock and MN3204 512-stage Bucket Brigade Device for the delay. The schematic is available for download through the interwebs. Looking at schematic, i’m not exactly sure how that half of IC2 and Q2 are supposed to create the clean octave up, but it surely won’t act only as a buffer in front of the delay circuitry.

Boss-HF2-guts2

That being said, the HF-2 isn’t your standard flanger, but it isn’t anything too special either. Controls are very sufficient. Manual affects the Rate and Depth, while Resonanse controls how much delayed, or flanged signal is getting in the mix with original signal. The footprint is pretty common with most flangers and choruses.

How does it sound?
Don’t be expecting anything too wild. It is a very nice sounding flanger that goes from mild detuned vibrato to airplane hights. Overall tone is still rather tasteless and scentless, the same problem we’re facing with many Boss boxes. Sure it sounds good, but it doesn’t quite reach that acidy velcro flanger wildness the greatest flangers reach. It does offer slight variance to most usual flangers, which is a good thing. Controls offer good variance in terms of speed and depth. For me, the best use for this is to have it act as a vibrato. I do get whyt some folks prefer this over any other, but that isn’t me. Good but somewhat boring.

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.

Nux-MF6-DigitalMFX-guts1

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.