This article was another triggered by a number of recent ’Best Chorus Pedals’ posts out on other sites - which I didn’t feel adequately covered this category. Initially I didn’t used to be that much into Chorus - but being a huge Prince, Nirvana, The Police and The Cure fan amongst others - the Chorus was always going to feature there in the tonal reference library - and besides, I soon discovered how to do all kinds of other cool things with Chorus - for instance just adding a touch of sparkle to clean tones, and adding further texture to distortion.
I have determined that there are roughly 4 key core Chorus types as annotated on the above visual :
Some might be tempted to place the Chase Bliss Audio Warped Vinyl in the [H] Hybrid category - while its digital element is specifically on the ’numerical’ settings side as a control layer - which allows you to have say presets and MIDI control. The only genuine Hybrid in this selection is the EQD Sea Master as that utilises Analog to Digital converters, while for the Warped Vinyl the signal path is pure analog.
I’ve traditionally used a number of Digital Modulation Workstation Boxes - amongst which the Strymon Mobius, Boss MD-500 and GFI System Synestesia all have exceptional selections of choruses. While I’ve also always had an Analog Chorus in my pedal-chain too. Up until most recently - the Chase Bliss Audio Warped Vinyl MKII.
I’ve been intending for the longest time to get the two Boss Waza Choruses - the CE-2W and DC-2W - but this year instead went with the exceptional VS Audio Alchemy - a proper highest quality BBD Analog Chorus - with six onboard, footswitchable presets - this is just the perfect Chorus for me currently - and actually nicely covers the range of the two Boss types. I’ve also long considered an Analog.Man Mini Chorus - my good friend Sof has and loves the BB-sized Bi-Chorus.
There are so many here that I really rate - including the Dawner Prince Viberator and DryBell Vibe Macine, JAM Pedals Waterfall, JHS Emperor, Mad Professor Double Moon, Neunaber Inspire, Paradox Futura, Walrus Audio Julia, and Zvex Instant Lo-fi Junky Vertical Yvette Young Limited Edition - amongst others.
I have tried to provide the usual even mix of usual suspects and slightly left field choices - although this is largely an Analog selection - with 19 of the pedals being Analog, 6 Digital, 2 Photocell and 1 Hybrid. In fact I could have done with a couple more slots - so I’ve tagged on the DigiTech Nautilus and slightly leftfield choice - Chase Bliss Audio Generation Loss as bonus rounds. On second scan-through - a reader has reminded me of the excellent VFE Choral Reef BBD Analog Chorus too - which is Bonus Round 3!
Overall my favourites here tend to be the more feature-rich analog variants - in particular the dual-footswitch varieties. I’m heartened to see so much of the associated Sky Blue colourway evident here, and my most likely next acquisitions in this area will probably to be the 2 Boss’s!, Paradox Futura, and Yvette Young Edition LoFi Instant Junky if I ever manage to track down one of those sold-out limited editions!
Here follow the usual individual details, pedals are arranged in alphabetical order by brand :
This is one of the more unusual choruses here being a digital octave chorus with 5 controls - the more obvious Rate, Depth, and Blend (Dry Mix), while -/+ denotes octave down/up - full octave down CCW, full octave up CW, and Warp here warps the Octave Pitch by adding or subtracting pre-delay - actually by varying the clock speed of the ADAC - which impacts on the range of the Rate knob too obviously. So a somewhat different textural chorus which is still relatively simple, and easy to dial in interesting tones.
Based on The benchmark chorus pedal - the original compact Boss CE-2 - using the earlier Panasonic Japanese-made MN3007 Chips. The version above features additional depth toggle-switch and optional Wet/Dry Mix knob - each option adds $25 to the price - you can also go for stereo output for another $55 - but then loose the advantage of the top-mounted jacks. All of Mike Piera's pedal output is excellent, I now have two of his pedals, and would not hesitate to recommend any of his productions. This particular chorus comes very highly recommended. I may just end up with one of these, albeit it's not quite at the top tier of the priority list.
This somewhat plasticky Japanese chorus has long been many a pro's secret weapon - to the extent that EWS now include their modifications of the same within their own main product range. A very classically 80's voiced chorus with great dynamics - and EWS upgraded components where they make sense. Andertons sells these but they are relatively widely available now - I would of course prefer this as a full-stereo pedal, but as a fairly simple, classic 80's style chorus this is one of the best - bizarrely now more pricey than the Boss CE-2w - whose predecessors were the inspiration for most of these featured pedals.
Boss is the originator of the pedal chorus effect as we know it via its original 1976 big box CE-1 pedal, which later morphed into the more compact CE-2 and essentially made the 80's! The earliest Boss's used the Panasonic MN3007 chips which some still consider superior - in which case go for the Analog.Man Mini Chorus above. This latest Waza version of the CE-2 uses more recent Panasonic MN3207 chips - but still sounds sufficiently glorious to most. Controls are the classic Rate and Depth knobs plus a Standard / CE-1 Mode switch - which gives you that slightly more flanger-like flavour of chorus that the original pedal was known for.
Another reissue from the celebrated Boss Series 2 range - this time the Dimension C Spatial/Spectral Enhancer originally from 1985. It's actually a sort of dual directional phasey chorus effect with actually 10 different levels of intensity in the Waza Craft Edition - as you can click on each button individually 1-4, or in pairs - 1+2, 1+3, 1+4, 2+3, 2+4, and 3+4. The Waza edition covers both the original pedal Dimension C, and then its custom switch turns it into the Roland Dimension D Rack Chorus equivalent - which has a significantly higher/deeper intensity overall. So you get 2 modes x 10 variations - which is actually selected in a really easy manner - so no difficulty in memorising exactly where the dials have to be set. I find this sort of chorus utterly unique and singularly appealing, and I really should have brought one in earlier - but I was having too much fun with my incumbent Chase Bliss Audio Warped Vinyl MKII! I will for sure have a DC-2W in the rotation at some stage this year - certainly by year-end if all goes well. To get that classic Purple Rain effect you supposedly need mode 3 on the Dimension D setting!
One of the newer choruses on display here in the superb new Carl Martin rounded enclosure chassis with chamfered edges! This is a very well balanced and even-tempered digital variety with 4 very simple and straigtforward controls - Speed, Depth, Rate and Level. It delivers suitably warm watery warbly tones too - at a very reasonable price. All the new Carl Martin pedals are PCB / SMT style and made in China - while the circuits and signal processing are obviously still designed and honed in Denmark. These are really great sounding modern pedals for a very reasonable outlay.
Another cool MN3007 BBD Chip based Chorus - this time with 4 controls - Width | Rate | Density | Mix. I occasionally overlook this one, but am then reminded how great this can sound. This often falls under the radar slightly in the current selections - it should certainly be on your roster for consideration - I've seen Paul Gilbert using this one every now and again which is as good an endorsement as you could expect.
So this was my default analog chorus for the longest time - the white second MKII version while the newer black colourway for the MKIII HiFi version brings the Warped Vinyl full circle - as the MKI started off black also. Each version of the Warped Vinyl has become progressively brighter sounding - with re-engineered tone circuits each time. The newest HiFi versions started off as a sort of metallic coppery orange, but that colourway proved too tricky to manufacture and led to too many blemished pedals - meaning that the colour reverted back to black. In the latest version Chase Bliss has swapped out the top centre Volume dial for a Lag dial - which accentuates the fluttery effect. Owing to previous experience of volume drop issues though with various modulation pedals, I'm loath to update from my current MKII version - but I may well take the leap someday. This is still overall the most capable chorus/vibrato pedal in this form factor - with its 6 dials, 3 x 3-way toggles, 16 dip-switches, separate tap-tempo and 2 onboard presets via 4th 3-way toggle. If only this was full stereo it would be the perfect chorus for me at this size!
The inputs/outputs are very similar to the Boss CE-2W - i.e. single socket in and dual sockets out - so it has dropped a touch in my estimation. It's a very capable chorus pedal nonetheless with a high feature set and intuitive shape dial, as well as Modern and Vintage voicing modes. I would still like to see a second footswitch for tap-tempo and a proper stereo in facility - even if it's only via TRS cable.
This is probably the current pro's favourite Uni-Vibe style Chorus and used heavily in conjunction with the F-1L mini footswitch to access the 10 - E, S, X and T secondary modes for this pedal. Even though there are just 2 dials and 2 toggle switches on the top face of the pedal - there are a further 6 trimpots - 3 per side to fine-tune the output further. This is a hugely capable pedal and a truly great sounding one too. It does however need that secondary footsmwitch really to unleash its full feature set, and the output is currently mono only. I personally would prefer for those fiddly side trim-pots to be elevated to front-facing mini-dials - with a second footswitch for tap-tempo. And also why not just have a simpler third large mode dial instead of relying on secondary functions on the main Speed dial. Apart from a few minor quibbles though this is an excellent proposition, which could be ergonomically at least be made better still! I may very well get one of these eventually - my friend Sof has one and loves his.
As mentioned in the intro this is an interesting Hybrid variety of Chorus - where the core Chorusing engine is actually analog, but there is a lot of Digital Processing too to thicken up, pitch and modulate the core voicing. The pedal benefits from 6 controls - Animate (Degree of Pitch-shift), Dimension (EchoVerb), Intensity (Dry>Wet Blend), Depth, Shape (Triangle > Square) and Rate. This is actually quite a wonderful rich and warm sounding chorus with plenty of tricks up its sleeves. Purists won't necessarily be enamoured, but a lot of the more modern players really love it.
The simplest and lowest cost Chorus in this selection recreates exactly the Nirvana Small Clone in a compact enclosure comes with just a single Rate dial and a 2-way Depth Switch to vary intensity. If you're looking for an accessible straight-laced proper Analog Chorus - then this should be your first choice. This is the very tone of 'Come As You Are' in its most unadulterated form.
One of the more simple pedals here, and one which I often compare alongside Catalinbread's Callisto as both are quite similar in many ways - though the function of each one's 4th dial does vary - the Stonefish has Width, while the Callisto has Mix. So you have a 2-way Vibrato / Chorus switch - and then Rate, Depth, Width and Tone - for a very decent sounding analog chorus at a fairly decent price - and it's just within £10 of the Boss CE-2w.
This chorus is still getting quite a lot of buzz recently - another great sounding one within the genre - utilising the same MN3207 chip as the Boss CE-2W. You get 2 knobs - Depth and Speed, then a toggle-switch for Dryer/Wetter modes, and a toggle to switch between Chorus and (V) Vibrato mode. This pedal is as simple and elegant as these get and sounds suitably lush. It's one of a few I have up for consideration to supplement my CBA Warped Vinyl, TCE Dreamscape and current VS Audio Alchemy Chorus pedals.
I was very encouraged to see Josh Scott miniaturise most of his mid-size modulation pedals down to the compact form-factor - with all the functionality intact as on this V2 Emperor Chorus. It's one of only three pedals here to have tap-tempo, and it also has a 3-way waveform switch. It's still not quite close enough to the functionality of some of the upper tier ones, but gives you all you really need if you are running a mono rig. The Warped Vinyl gives you a little more of course - but that's nearly twice the price! For a MN3207 BBD style chorus with extra feature - this one's actually pretty great all-round, and definitely a significant contender.
This is actually a really classy LoFI style Analog Chorus with a really extended feature set and including tap-tempo. It has 6 controls - Depth, Lag (Intensity), Rate, Tone, Mix and Waveform (Random, Sinewave, Triangle). It's right in that Warped Vinyl / Instant LoFi Junky territory - and is a proper contender. This may not be one of my first choices as yet - but it's definitely fairly high up there. I always have a soft-spot for dual-footswitch compact enclosure pedals and there's certainly a high level of appeal here.
Here I've obviously gone for the more multi-tasking recent Double Moon Modulator over the simpler digital Electric Blue Chorus which I find is now discontinued. The Double Moon's 11 fully analogue modes give you 3 Choruses, 3 Dual Choruses, 2 Flangers, 1 Dual Flanger, a Flanger+Chorus, and a Vibrato. So 5 control dials - Speed | Mode | Depth | Tone | Control - the last of which controls waveshape, regen etc. depending on mode selected. I mostly view this as a really cool next level chorus pedal in many ways a better analog take on TC Electronic's The Dreamscape which I have. I'm quite tempted by the Double Moon - but there are other equally interesting choruses which are slightly higher priority for me.
This is another BBD chip style chorus although the chip isn't specified and I can't find any reference to it - which based on the price means likely it's using one of the newer Chinese-made variants - so not quite up to the authenticity of the MN3007 and MN3207 types listed here. You get more tone-shaping here though courtesy of 5 controls - Low (LP Cut) | High (HP Cut) | Level | Rate | Depth. For sure a decent sounding offering with some unique features, and at the lower end of the pricing scale.
This is one of only a handful of stereo pedals here. Neunaber in fact follows up its exceptional Immerse delay - with a very similar form-factor Inspire Tri-Chorus - with no less than 8 modes - including a flavour of added delay. Of all the pedals featured here, this is certainly another of the top choices. The only thing it really lacks comparatively is tap-tempo - which I'd really quite like to see added! It has a triple-chorus voicing throughout for thick and lush chorusing sounds where the 5th control knob variously adjusts Tone, Vibe, Pitch or Time. Other controls are Mix, Depth, Rate and the Mode rotary selector. What is really clever about these Neunaber pedals is the ergonomics of the legend / label graphics - which are quite superbly intuitive.
This is another of the fairly leftfield Digital Choruses which combines a number of different effects courtesy of 3 modes - Wrinkle (Vibrato Warble with Pitch-Shift), Washed (Lush Chorus), and Mirrors (Detuned Chorus meets Flanger). You get 4 controls - Rate, Depth, Mix and Modulate - where the last adjusts the key modulation component in each mode. Old Noise Endeavors always do something different and provide slightly different flavours / takes to the mainstream. So this is for those who want to be a touch different, and possibly don't much like the straight up standard chorusing effect.
I've featured this cool lo-fi style chorus quite a few times on the site to-date - it combines with Envelope filtering for even more interesting woozy textures. There are 8 controls here - 5 easy-to-understand knobs - Blend | Sensitivity (Filter) | Level | Rate | Depth - and then 3 toggle switches R|R+D|D (Rate/Depth), R Up/Down and D Up/Down (Swell direction). There are also two footswitches - where the second one activates/disables the Envelope. These are in rare supply this side of the pond - I believe there are a couple of mainland European distributors - but prices tend to be high as the deliveries from Mexico are somewhat pricey for whatever reason. I still want one of these - it's pretty unique for a Chorus, and I like most things which are musical but a little unusual. It's definitely down as one of my priority Chorus acquisitions.
This is another BBD chip style Chorus - again with unspecified chip, which likely means not the more rarified MN3007 or MN3207 varieties - although this is Japan-made so possibly this does have an original Japanese chip too! You have 4 controls at your disposal here - Depth | Speed | Mix - and a 3-position Deep mode switch which gives you slight variations on the depth of flavour. This is certainly a decent proposition, but possibly outmuscled somewhat by some of its better-known companions here.
I'm sometimes criticised for failing to include some of the Source Audio pedals amongst my favourites - where I obviously really rate a number of the Source Audio pedals - including the killer trio of Nemesis Delay, Ventris Reverb and Collider Delay+Reverb. I've also recently favoured the C4 Synth, Spectrum Intelligent Filter and True Spring Reverb - and of course the recent EQ2 Programmable EQ. While generally for single modulations and drive pedals I tend to favour analog varieties. The Source Audio pedals are really clever digital varieties where all kinds of parameters can be controlled behind the scenes courtesy of Source Audio's Neuro App. Which is not dissimilar to the TC Electronic TonePrint Studio in many ways. And which means you can achieve incredible presets and settings tweaking for defaults, but not really in the way of on-the-fly tweaking via hands-on means as such. The Gemini has 5 straightforward controls - Depth, Speed, Mix and Tone, and a 3-way Mode switch for Dual, Classic and Quad Chorus varieties. This is another great sounding digital variety with a whole lot more hidden sub-menu tweaking courtesy of its App. I personally prefer fully hands-on manual tweakery, but understand the benefit of the App-route for many usage scenarios.
Here I've chosen the Limited Edition 'Stereo Chorus Flanger' Corona Tribute where TC Electronic modified their main Chorus pedal to take on the looks and nearest match specially created TonePrints of their former now 40 year old classic and much loved analogue pedal. The TonePrints come specially pre-loaded on this device, and the controls are slightly different - Speed, Width, Intensity and Tone. Of course you can apply those same TonePrints on the regular Chorus - but there the knobs are labelled Speed, Depth, FX Level and Tone - and the special TonePrints don't come preloaded as standard. I could have gone for the John Petrucci signature Dreamscape here too - which I have personally and which is another excellent Digital Chorus, Flanger and Vibrato - on this occasion though I chose to take the semi-heritage route though!
This is of course my favourite and chosen chorus of the moment from Greece's VS Audio - AKA Panos Sotiropoulos, whom I consider a good friend now. I normally bang on about the need for a tap-tempo second footswitch, but in this case the second footswitch is even more handy as it gives you access to 6 presets - which means you can instantly switch between 7 totally different Chorus tones on-the-fly. Control-wise it's very simple with just Mix, Delay, Speed and Depth - but those 4 knobs deliver a huge variety of tones as I mentioned in my review. In fact the Delay component gives you all those lovely Phasey style chorus voicings meaning that this is sort of like a combination / cross between the Boss CE-2W and DC-2W. I personally still think it could do with a coupe of additional controls - a lot of my readers have been asking for additional waveform options here - and I think it would be neat to add a Tone Control too or probably rather a Thickness Control even - so you can make the Chorus effect Focused or really Rich and Thick if you like (I would imagine courtesy of some sort of feedback loop)! I will be asking Panos to consider those changes for the eventual V2 version of the Alchemy - which would take it yet another notch higher!
I kind of glossed over this latest edition when it was released as I felt the changes were really just cosmetic. The new V2 version has a much cooler artwork, soft-touch footswitch, and top-mounted jacks. The interior Analog BBD circuit though remains largely the same. This is generally a very highly regarded and much loved Chorus - and besides Boss, probably the most popular of the modern / contemporary ones. You get 5 controls here - Rate, Depth, Lag, Waveform (Sine/Triangle) and Mode / Blend (Dry>Chorus>Vibrato). This is obviously one of the finest choruses around as is born out by its consistent ongoing popularity. For some reason it's never especially appealed to me - I do like it, but as mentioned, have other choruses which seem to appeal to me more - but make no mistake this is most definitely a top-tier contender!
Jeorge Tripps no doubt has a great ear for tone - and all his Way Huge pedals are beautifully calibrated. This is another of those enduring choruses which near enough everyone seems to like. This one with its 3 controls is just about the most simple chorus you can get besides the EHX Neo Clone - here you just have Speed, Depth and essentially a 2-way Mode/Blend switch for Vibe/Chorus. I typically like a little more finessed controlled and versatility, so this is not necessarily the Chorus for me - although I do appreciate it would be many players' first choice.
I wasn't surprised to find out at the time that the Instant Lo-fi Junky was a pedal designed by Joel Korte while working at Zvex - before he struck out on his own with Chase Bliss Audio. This can be viewed in many ways as the forerunner to the CBA Warped Vinyl and both have that similar lo-fi warbly chorus vibe. The version to own of course is one of the two so far batches of Yvette Young limited editions with her own painted goldfish artwork - and her accompanying liquid demo is such an apt treat. The Instant Lo-fi Junky has 6 controls - Volume, Speed, Compression/Lo-Fi, Waveform (Sine/Triangle/Square), Tone and Depth. I'm of course hoping Zvex see fit to release another batch some day - while I continue to scour Reverb.com in the hope that one might just pop up their eventually. One of my favourites for sure.
This pedal only just missed out on a place in the main listing because I put the emphasis on analog varieties. It has a very straightforward Chorus/Flange Mode switch up top, but then 6 controls - of which 2 are dual-concentric knobs. So you get Mix (Dry Blend), Drift (Waveform Peak Shift), Speed, Depth, Emphasis and Voices. So actually a really capable pedal with a very high degree of versatility. I have listed this as a Flanger on this site before - and it's equally adept as a Chorus which is its principal designation - definitely worthy of consideration - while another one obviously not necessarily for the purists!
This is certainly a somewhat leftfield choice - and I was one of the lucky ones to get in on this very time-sensitive Chase Bliss Audio / Cooper FX collaboration limited run. This is actually more of a tape effect really, but new to the Chase Bliss Audio version was/is the middle 3-way 'Dry' toggle switch which delivers gorgeous Chorusey tones in its 'Small' and 'Unity' settings. Not that this pedal is really intended as a Chorus - this is distinctly a secondary feature - but actually a really interesting texture of chorus nonetheless!
This is another great analog Chorus which I overlooked on first sweep. The development path of this pedal was particularly tricky and took 2 years to perfect. You just don't see many of these around nowadays - I don't recall having come across any on Reverb.com or Ebay - so surely they are well loved and held onto by the original owners. At the core here is a MN3008 chip which Peter reports has far better signal-to-noise ratio than the first MN3007 chip. The 6 controls on this occasion are Mix, Range (toggle), Depth, Feedback, Speed and Width. You can get a huge variety of sounds and this is definitely a find if you come across one! I of course love most VFE pedals - but am sort of undecided if this is yet another of those that I have to have in the collection - I guess it depends on the price and condition of the opportunity if and when it arises!
So in the end there is quite a mix of mostly Analog BBD Choruses here - with a smattering of Digital varieties and some more specialist takes on the genre. I have several Stereo Digital Multi-Modulation / Modulation Workstation Pedals which all produce excellent choruses - the Boss MD-500, GFI System Synesthesia, and Strymon Mobius. I also have 3 stand-alone Choruses - 2 Analog BBD - CBA Warped Vinyl MKII and VS Audio Alchemy, and 1 Digital - the TCE Electronic John Petrucci Dreamscape! Also the CBA Generation Loss if I'm feeling inclusive.
Right at the top of my acquisition / wishlist is actually the two Boss Waza Craft editions - CE-2W and DC-2W, while if I had the opportunity to acquire an Yvette Young Edition Instant Lo-Fi Junky that would surely trump everything else at that point.
I've also been eyeing up the Paradox Futura Envelope Chorus for the longest time, and I would likely snap up the remaining dual-footswitch varieties here too - i.e. the JHS Emperor and Lichtlaerm Trugbild - which both have tap-tempo. Part of me also quite wants an Analog.Man Mini Chorus, Jam Pedals Waterfall, Mad Professor Double Moon and Neunaber Inspire Tri-Chorus - but it's unlikely I will ever have more than a handful of choruses - I've also made a commitment to get the Ibanez Mini Analog Chorus too at some stage! So longer-term it's most likely that I will have in addition - the 2 Boss's, Instant Lo-Fi Junky and probably the Paradox Futura - plus the Ibanez Mini - that should suely give me a suitable reference selection for my needs!
All these choruses featured are excellent - while some will deliver a deeper and richer variety of chorus - there are no duffers as such or padding in this selection- in fact several more decent varieties that didn't quite make the cut on this occasion. There are of course many more smaller (Mini) and larger enclosure varieties, but I feel I've covered most of the best candidates in the compact enclosure format. I don't think you would be dissatisfied with any of these really, while some undoubtedly deliver a little more joy. I can't recommend the VS Audio Alchemy enough at the moment - just listen to the demos and then get a handle on how handy it is to have 6 instantly footswitchable presets - have no doubt that the Alchemy is a game-changer and definitely takes the win for me at this current juncture!