This post actually came about in a rather random roundabout fashion while I’m still waiting for my Buffalo FX Flanger to arrive. The only one of my analog modulation pedals I haven’t rotated recently as such is my Chase Bliss Audio Wombtone MKII Analog Phaser. So I got to thinking if there was something in that area I might look towards - considering I had fairly recently updated all the other analog modulation slots.
I have 5 phasers already - including 3 from the top row of the visual - the Alexander La Calavera, Boss PH-1R Phaser and the aforementioned CBA Wombtone. I also have the Zvex Vibrophase and diminutive MXR Phase 95 Mini - which delivers both Phase 45 & 90 flavours in Scripted and Block varieties. So my existing collection is none to shabby as is.
My most recent ’4 Analog Tap-Tempo Phasers’ feature was in celebration of the newish Crazy Tube Circuits 4-Mode Cyclone Phaser and I included the 3 other available Analog Tap-Tempo Phasers - again with the Wombtone MKII among their number.
I’ve had the now discontinued Phase 99 as a long-term target, and that has held pretty firm at £139 - I’m just waiting for it to dip a little more. I’m also a big fan of the CTC Cyclone, and Mu-Tron Phasor III in particular. While I also see the other two analog tap-tempo varieties as likely targets - the Native Audio Midnight and Vein-Tap Dark Arts. And I’ve always really liked the Skreddy Swirl and VFE Enterprise / Tractor Beam too. I actually included the Enterprise here rather than the more recent Tractor Beam as I was trying to emphasize the most associated Phaser colourway - of course derived from the original Orange-coloured MXR Phase 90.
I was looking to pull in as diverse a high quality field of pedals as possible - and I was kind of surprised by how few digital varieties ended up in the roundup - or just 3. I also attempted to separate and indicate Phase-Vibrato or Vibro/Vibra-Phase style pedals - which I’ve notated as VP - either pedals that are engineered to have the warbly vibrato quality as core, or have some sort of mix control which gives you maximum wet-effect warble. Finally I indicated the Tap-Tempo examples with a T - which are actually the same 4 I highlight in my recent article per above.
At the basic level you have the core classic 2 or 4 stage Phasers - i.e. MXR 45 or 90 type derivatives and adjacents. And then you have some with as many as 12 stages and secondary modulation effects - like envelope followers and filters.
My most likely next acquisition here is the CTC Cyclone - while it’s not set at a particularly high priority - so will be based on a somewhat opportunistic approach.
Here follow the usual details of the runners and riders :
I believe this was actually my first Phaser pedal acquired overall - I didn't particularly clock it as being a digital variety until it arrived - I just loved all the demos I heard of it and its 3 really cool modes. Those modes being Suave (10-stage Deep and Wet Studio Phaser), Dynámica (Rate Touch-Sensitivity), and Loco (Feedback Phaser). You have 4 control knobs - Rate, Intensity, Mix and Tweak - where the last impacts Regeneration, Sensitivity and Feedback for the 3 respective modes. This is a really richly textured phaser - just sounds fantastic with anything you throw at it - and those 3 modes give it a lot of inherent versatility. You can see how enduring this pedal is as it's the only Alexander modulation pedal that hasn't been revamped to NEO Series format! Still a perennial favourite!
A classic Vintage inspired OTA 4-stage Phaser with Rate and Regeneration Controls. Besides the 3 One-Knob Wonders here, this is the simplest of Phaser variants - and incredibly versatile per the above demo. Alex at Anasounds turns out consistently great pedals. I for whatever reason typically seem to be a bit more of a bells and whistles kind of guy - but you should not overlook the wonderful sounds of this effortlessly elegant pedal.
I only realised relatively recently that there were a couple of variants of the PH-1R - most easily distinguished by where the 'PH' of PH-1R aligns. For the earliest MIJ editions it aligns with the 's' of Phaser, while later editions like the one pictured have the alignment with the 'e' of Phaser. My own version of this pedal is an earlier Made in Japan variant with blue LED - bought second-hand from Regent Sounds - don't know if the LED is the only modification but it sounds great. Most Boss fans consider the PH-1R superior to the original PH-1 as it adds a 'Resonance' knob to Rate and Depth. At the time this 4-stage analog phaser was the biggest competitor to MXR's original Phase 90. Most consider that the Boss sounds slightly thicker and fuller - while both camps have swathes of dedicated followers.
And so to my seemingly most perpetual and perennial of analog modulations. This was actually the last of the Chase Bliss Audio Analog Modulations I acquired - after the Gravitas Tremolo, Spectre Blue-Knob Flanger and Warped Vinyl II - but has maintained its place the longest. It follows the usual CBA format with the 16 ramp/bounce dip-switches, ModuShape Wave-shape controls, Tap-Tempo and 2, 4 or 6 Stage Modes. While I usually deploy it in 4-Stage Mode for EVH type duties - vs the more gentle organic swirls. I actually find this pedal really simple and elegant to use - I don't resort to the dip-switches too often - and it consistently delivers great results. I believe it was the first and only of the tap-tempo varieties for the longest time. Currently I have no reason really to rotate / switch it - although I may just get in the CTC Cyclone for sake of variety. This will still be my perennial favourite though!
As noted several times here - my likeliest next Phaser acquisition. Actually scratch that - while writing this article I did a quick check and found a Mint one for reasonable money on Ebay - so yes - this one is next up for the rotation! It cleverly combines 4 classic Phaser flavours - MXR Phase 45 2-stage, MXR Phase 90 4-stage, EHX Small Stone 4-stage and Lovetone Doppelgänger LFO Phaser. You have 4 simple controls - Mix, Feedback, Depth and Speed - and that essential Tap-Tempo I so like! Looking forward to this one, sad to see the last of the CBA Analog Modulation depart from the pedal-chain for a while - but I'm sure they will be back. It's healthy after all to get fresh perspectives!
This elegant One-Knob 2-stage phaser has been through a variety of iterations - Yellow, Grey and most recently Blue - again not long since discontinued. It's one of three One-Knob Wonders featured here - where I would personally probably lean more towards the JAM Pedals and Skreddy variants - while there are of course slight differences in price. Still a well loved and great sounding simple phaser.
EQD always do things a little bit differently - while this is another great Analog OTA 4-stage type phaser with knobs for Sweep, Rate, Depth and Resonance. The first 1|2|3 toggle switch selects between different ranges of modulation, while the second switch allows you to toggle between Phase and Vibrato modes. I've noted before that while EQD is often slightly different, it's not that often my preferred choice in a particular category - for some reason I put a higher emphasis on Tap-Tempo and different modes - where here things are a touch more subtle. Still a great phaser though and well-loved by many.
The smallest variety of the classic EHX 6-stage phaser - here with Auto/Manual Mode switch - where in Manual Mode you can freeze the phase cycle. Knobs are Rate, Manual Shift and Feedback. A relatively simple and elegant phaser which is likely overshadowed a little by some of the other pedals listed here. Certainly worthy of consideration for its price alone - being the lowest cost option here by a significant margin. This will suit many players just seeking out a slightly different richer format of classic phaser.
I still really like the graphic and naming on this one, but not sure if I consider it a proper contender. It's certainly well made, while I find the knob placement a touch odd - the knobs can vary somewhat as these are largely custom made from what I can tell. You get 4 classic controls - Depth, Resonance, Speed and Mix, alongside a 2-way switch for 6-stage or 4-stage Mode. Not sure whether this model is still current, but since Flattley do mostly custom stuff - I'm pretty sure you can still commission one. Some of their enclosures are aesthetically fantastic - with lots of cool detail touches - etching, embossing etc. and lighting strips along the base in place of LEDs.
A really smooth 4-stage Analog Phaser with slightly unusual controls. The 4 knobs on this occasion are Rate, Depth, Q-Bandwidth and Volume - while there is also a Rate Switch - where you can swith up the range fro Slow to Fast. At it's core it sounds slightly distinct from the other 4-stagers - particularly depending on how you apply the Q-control. Certainly one that warrants consideration if you're considering a 4-stage phaser.
Everyone should know by know that I hold JAM Pedals in very high regard. I love every part of their brand - and they turn out some superb sounding pedals in several categories. This is totally a One-Knob Wonder best-in-class 45 / 2-stage type Phaser. Obviously identical in format to those original phasers - this one is built with highest quality components for a really rich Vibey style of Phase. This would definitely be high in my own considerations - after the tap-tempo varieties obviously!
Another recently discontinued elegant phaser - this time based on the more vibey Phase 45 2-stager. It obviously leans more into the vibey side of things and is capable of some very decent Uni-Vibe-alike tones. Control comes via 4 knobs - Blend, Focus (Bias), Speed and Fat (low-end) which are a rather rarefied selection which gives you quite a different format of control to the modulation. Definitely a notably slightly different take on the genre - and worth checking out for that reason alone really.
I believe this was only fairly recently re-issued in a number of limited batches now - having been originally made in BB-style enclosure. The first edition of the newer compact format was last September's Space Panorama version as far as I'm aware. Since then we've also had versions in Back and Green Neon. You get a 3-way switch to select between 2, 4 and 6-stage phasing. And you get 4 classic control knobs - Depth, Rate, Feedback and Level. Depending on your colour-sensitivities this is actually well worth snapping up if you come across one of the batches early enough! Weirdly though there still isn't a demo out there of any of these newer variants!
I'm not 100% sure whether this is a digital or analog variety, but since it exists in a hand-wired version too, I'm making an educated guess that it's likely to be analog. There's also no direct details of origin here - whether 45 or 90 variety or otherwise. What we can say is that this has supposedly been re-engineered from the ground-up to be very specifically tuned towards optimal guitar frequencies - for more control over the richness of the effect. The 4 controls are Speed, Mode, Resonance and Mix - with the Mode knob a sort of Depth and Detail control which allows you to dial in Lighter or Deeper varieties of Phasing. I don't have much first-hand experience of this one, but my good friend Sof has one of these in his rig and really loves it. Generally you can't go wrong with a Björn Juhl / Mad Professor effect!
I've been a big fan of the relatively recently re-issued Mu-Tron compact effects - having the Microtron III in the collection since it first emerged and having also picked on an Octavider a little later on. The Phasor III arrived somewhat unknown to me alongside the Boostron II and Octavider+ Octave Fuzz - all pedals that I'm relatively interested in inquiring - albeit these are quite pricey, and I probably have higher priorities overall. Each of these pedals is my favourite dual-footswitch variety - and the second footswitch of the Phasor III allows you to switch between 4 and 6-stage phasing on-the-fly. It has knobs for Depth, Rate and Feedback, alongside a couple of 3-way / 2-way toggle switches - where the first is for expression control - Depth, None or Rate, and the Shape with allows you to alternate between Square and Sine-Wave. I really like he look of these Mu-Tron re-issues and as mentioned would quite like to snap them all up eventually - but the is likely to be more along opportunistic lines.
This in effect Dual Phase 90 has been long on my wishlist - and I keep hoping I can snap one up for closer to £100 - although one has yet to materialise in the right combination of condition and price for my liking. It uniquely combines 2 Phase 90's as mentioned where you can output each separately for a really dynamic stereo effect. Controls consist of individual Speed knobs per channel, and 3 push-buttons for Parallel/Series playback, Vintage/Modern Mode and Rate Sync - for creating a really rich and thick inline phaser versus having separately set channels. Essentially this gives you more of the 4-stage phaser and you can get some very interesting pseudo-Uni-vibe style sounds by combining the two channels in interesting ways - while the lack of a mix knob makes this not exactly a Phase/Vibe variety though. Definitely the most interesting version of the MXR Phaser for me - bar the mini Phase 95 which I already have. This should be in the collection within the next year or two for sure.
Formerly Red House Electronics but now Native Audio - I've featured the Midnight Phaser on this site a few times now. It's still one of the few tap-tempo phasers out there, but slightly simplified from the V1 original. The original had 3 toggle-switches - Phase/Vibrato, Tap/Ramp and 2-Stage/4-Stage. While the new one only has one switch - Tap/Ramp for the second 'Control' footswitch and introduces a Mix knob in place of Volume - which sort of covers off 2 and 4 Stage Phase and Vibrato Modes through degree of Wet/Dry - with all-wet being Vibrato obviously, Besides that we have controls for Feedback, Depth, Rate/Ramping and Tap-Divisons/Slow (fast secondary setting). The former Volume knob is now an internal trim-pot - sort of set and forget, while there are 5 modes / waveform options on Ramping. When I last did the phaser overview if you wanted a compact tap-tempo phaser it was between this and the Wombtone, while there are now probably two more tasty alternatives. I still like this execution, but since getting the CTC Cyclone this moves further down the priority list.
OBNE always have a slightly more leftfield take on the typical modulation categories - yielding distinctly different tones and textures - and the Dweller is no exception. We have quite a lot of controls to play with here - 5 knobs : Stretch, Rate, Mix, Regeneration and Depth, with a 2-way 4/8 stage mode / voicing selector and 3-way wave-shape switch for Sine, Triangle and Random Step variations. This is one of just 3 digital variants in this listing - it wasn't out when I acquired my Alexander La Calavera - while it would certainly have made that decision more difficult to make - although I still really love the Calavera and would probably still take that over this one - but it's very close and they really deliver quite different things - so you could easily be justified in having both of those.
Retro-Sonic specializes in vintage analog replications in more modern compact enclosures. They've carved out a very decent reputation over the years - and this is another solid, albeit not necessarily stand-out performer. This 4-knob phaser based on the MXR Phase 90 Script - comes with 4 controls - Speed | Depth | Resonance | Level. Certainly a decent proposition, but not sure it necessarily stands out in this crowded space. For sure you get extra controls versus the original source model - and that may be enough to swing the vote for some players. A decent contender for sure - but there are more inspiring options here for me.
I've been a huge Skreddy fan for years - with 8 of Marc Ahlfs pedals in the collection to-date. This is one of my second-tier targets - just after the Skreddy Zero I'm still trying to hunt down. The Swirl has a lovely syrupy vintage-style swirl and I really love how this one sounds. It cannot really compete with my Wombtone or La Calavera or now Cyclone as it offers just a fraction of what they do, but for what it does it sounds immense! It's been on my wishlist for a long time, and ideally I would like to get it at some level of discount if I can, which means it's unlikely to happen any time soon. I also think my the Zvex Vibrophase covers pretty similar territory with quite a bit more variety and versatility.
SGFX's pretty recent Athena Vibraphase I look upon as a really close match to Zvex's Vibrophase which I already have. Had they both been available at the same time I would have had a more difficult decision to make. Both have 5 controls, while the Zvex is all knobs, and the Athena has 3 knobs - Speed, Depth and Level, and 2 x toggle-switches - Mode (3-way depth settings) and Color (EQ/Thickness) - the latter of which delivers stock, Uni-Vibe and more delicate flavours. This is a great sounding pedal - but I can't thus far justify owning both the Zvex Vibrophase and this - I would see them both as roughly equivalent - while the Zvex possibly has just a little more nuance - but doesn't get quite so richly detailed as the Athena.
The Subdecay Quasar DLX was long on my wishlist before I settled on compact format phasers. The more compact Quasar V4 sheds some of the features of its larger former sibling - like the second tap-tempo footswitch, but keeps most of the interesting options intact. You get 5 knobs for Depth, Color, Offset, Rate and Mode - with no less than 11 modes at your fingertips - Triangle + Sine wave, Triangle + Square wave, Cross Fade, Trem-Phase, Step Pattern, Random Square Wave Sequencer, Envelope Speed Phase, Envelope Phaser, Rotary, Slow Triangle LFO, Fast Sine LFO. Every time I review this pedal it goes back up in my estimation - and I would probably have snapped it up by now if it had some sort of tap-tempo - if Subdecay could find there way to include a second footswitch on this unit it would go right to the top of my acquisition list!
TC Electronic seems to be on the rise again after the launch of its Plethora X5 which I still feel was a little rushed to market, while the brand new Ditto+ Mini is genuinely stellar at the best in its class. Ever since the Uli Behringer take-over of TC Electronic I've not really felt the same about this brand - also the departure of the well-loved figurehead Tore Mogensen. And while there have been a few more QA issues highlight of late - particularly with the larger format Looper and Delay pedals, TC Electronic is still a quality marque. The TonePrint is always going to give TCE an ace up its sleeve - while I have always felt that you should have been able to store more of those essential presets on the pedal. In fact in the case of the Helix you have Speed, Depth, Feedback and Mix knobs and a 3-way toggle for Vintage/TonePrint/Smooth modes. The TonePrint essentially allows to to programme in any type of phaser - so that is a hugely powerful feature - while the pedal stupidly has only one TonePrint available at a time! I've long felt that a number of the TC Electronic pedals needed a more modern update - with a selection of TonePrints more readily available. I had the option here of selecting either the Helix or the Source Audio Lunar Phaser and I went with the former - while I could really have gone either way - I'm just generally more familiar with the TCE pedals.
This high quality German brand has been on my radar since the release of their Octavia fuzz pedal which is still high on my wishlist. Their phaser is another elegant vintage-inspired pedal in modern form-factor. A quality proposition for sure, but possibly not quite in my top-tier. It has 3 knobs - Speed, Volume and Depth, alongside a Vibrato/Phase Mode switch. It's based on the Phase 90 Script edition and has a really cool non-mechanical MagTraB magnetic activated footswitch. I think it's a great candidate for those looking for an enhanced Phase 90, but there are several others here which I find slightly more inspiring overall.
This is the 4th of the tap-tempo variants - and is a really interesting full-featured UK-made variety that I first covered in my overview of the CTC Cyclone launch. It contains no less that 16 different wave-shape modes in a 2 x 8 format - with the central toggle switch selecting between Band A and B. Other than that you have 6 knobs - Centre Shift, Tap-Divisions, Rate, Feedback, Voice (Dry/Wet Mix) and Mode rotary selector. This is one of the very best value phasers here for what it delivers - including the second tap-tempo footswitch. This still remains in my top-tier Phaser acquisitions list - and is currently going for an even more appealing £130. In this last rotation it was really a 3 way between the Cyclone, Phase 99 and this one - and for a while it could have gone either way - but I somehow felt the strongest affinity for the Cyclone. I will probably get one of these eventually anyway!
This is another fantastic Peter Rutter pedal as pretty much all VFE pedals are. I have 7 of his in the collection and would quite happy own every single one - while my higher level priorities are probably the right version of Dark Horse and Choral Reef Chorus. As with all VFE pedals they come in several iterations. I could have featured the more recent Tractor Beam edition - but really liked the symbolism of the Orange Star Trek evoking original. The V2 edition of the enterprise is near enough identical to the original apart from in contains a third PV in-between mode between the Phase and Vibrato extremes. Beyond the mode toggle-switch you also have a 3-way Stages toggle for 2/3/4 Stages. Then there are knobs for Speed, Mix, Depth and Feedback. This will likely be another opportunistic buy. There is currently a V1 Enterprise on Ebay - but I really want the V2!
I've long been a fan of Walrus Audio - and like EQD while they have a number of the leading contenders around in each category - I have largely tended to have more full-featured and more inspirational preferences like Chase Bliss Audio - as mentioned here and elsewhere. Walrus Audio use dual-footswitches on their Delay and Reverb pedals, and I've never understood why they could not include those for the Julia Chorus and this Lillian Phaser - which is really an identical pedal control-wise to the Julia. There is no doubting the quality of the core tonality - as these are both category leading contenders, but they could be just a little smarter in my opinion. The Lillian has 5 controls - 4 knobs - Rate, Width Feedback and Blend (Dry/Phase/Vibrato). There is also a 2-way toggle switch for 4 or 6 Stages of Phasing. It sounds great, but is not quite in the top tier of my own preferences.
When I first got this I was thinking this could be my principal phaser in place of the CBA Wombtone MKII - and while the Vibrophase does the delicate watery warbly swirling thing brilliantly - it's really not that great for EVH style zing - which is how I mostly tend to use my Phaser. So the Vibrophase's primary rotation in the pedal-chain turned out to be rather short - while it still gets a regular rotation it's not quite the all-rounder that I initially though it could be. The 5 knobs here are really sensitively interactive - and like the Fuzz Factory - you usually need to tweak several in tandem. The 5 knobs here control Speed, Vibrato/Phase, Feedback, High Bias, and Low Limit (Min. Voltage Input). It's for sure a great sounding vintage style phaser and works really well for the subtler more delicate stuff. It's not so good for rock and metal applications though.
A pedal I foolishly overlooked in the first sweep - I've been aware of this one for a while - essentially a 4-stage phaser with separate Speed dials for 2 different rates. One of the footswitches is the Bypass/On switch, while the other alternates between the 2 Speeds. I see this as somewhat adjacent to the MXR 99 - while on that pedal you can run both channels together in series or parallel. Many really like the simplicity and elegance of this one - and it undoubtedly sounds great too and has a neat core functionality - I would probably prefer it though if you could either flip-flop or combine via the two footswitches!
This 2018 discontinued, rather unusual 8-stage phaser with unique Width, Bonus and Rate controls was much loved for its rich syrupy texture which owed much to the Width (Sweep Size) and Bonus (Thickness) controls. It could take you to places others don't really touch on. I wasn't aware of this one until highlighted by a reader - and now I will most likely be looking out for one opportunistically!
So as often happens - I went into this roundup with 5 phasers - the Alexander La Calavera, Boss PH-1R, Chase Bliss Audio Wombtone MKII, Zvex Vibrophase and MXR Phase 95 Mini - and came out the other end with 6 - courtesy of most recent addition Crazy Tube Circuits Cyclone!
I stated that the next acquisition was likely to be between the CTC Cyclone, MXR 99 and Vein-Tap Dark Arts - so with the Cyclone snagged already - those two are surely next on the list. I've also noted that I really like the Mu-Tron Phasor III, Native Audio Midnight, Skreddy Swirl and VFE Enterprise V2 - so those still remain as active targets. As usual I will approach it fairly opportunistically based on ideal pricing and condition - and of course luck and timing!
I really don't need any more now and it's of course incredibly unlikely that I will acquire more than one or two additions. Each year brings new innovations - so surely there will be further inspiring options available any day soon.
Even though most of these are largely Analog 4-stage variants - there is a huge degree of variety here going from 1 to 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 control knobs - with the CBA Wombtone having has many as 25 controls overall. In fact the Wombtone still remains my overall favourite here even though it has been recently discontinued by Chase Bliss Audio - in fact I really love all of CBA's Analog Modulations.
In terms of recommendations - then something like the Cyclone is a great stepping-off point as it contains 4 all-time classic flavours of phase with tap-tempo. I'm still obviously very attracted to tap-tempo and there are 4 great varieties of that here. If you want simplicity then one of the 1 or 2-knob editions would surely be perfect. The choice has never been better and never at such a high level of quality - you really can't go wrong with any of these. If you're prepared to do the due diligence there are some very nuanced varieties here that will you singularly unique styles of phasing - so there is really something here for every palette - and right across the price spectrum too - with ranging from the EHX Bad Stone at £67 to the Wombtone at £350. I still also really rate the mini MXR Phase 95 - which can be yours for around £90.
Which flavour are you guys currently rocking?