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4 Cool Compact Analog Tap-Tempo Phaser Pedals

Chase Bliss AudioCrazy Tube CircuitsModulationNative AudioPhaserVein Tap+-
2019GPX4TapTempoPhasers700.jpg

This post was triggered by the recently announced Crazy Tube Circuits 4-Mode Cyclone Phaser - which comes in my own preferred phaser format - compact enclosure, analogue circuit, and with a second tap-tempo footswitch. In my last Phaser overview there were two examples of this - the Chase Bliss Wombtone, and the V1 of the then Red House Midnight Phaser - now the Native Audio V2 Midnight Phaser! New to me are the recently launched Vein-Tap Dark Arts Phaser, and the brand new Crazy Tube Circuits Cyclone which inspired this roundup.

 

It should be well-known by now that my favourite phaser is the Chase Bliss Wombtone MKII, while I also have the Alexander La Calavera, Modded Boss PH-1R, MXR Mini Phase 95, and Zvex Vibrophase. I’ve also notified of my intentions to acquire the MXR Dual Phase 99 someday soon and possibly the Spaceman Explorer Phaser, but I’m pretty much settled on the CBA Wombtone which has the perfect combination of form factor, tones and features for me. I’ve also found it almost essential that my modulation pedals have a level/volume control as otherwise many can be either under- or over-powered on the output front. All but my Spectre flanger have external volume controls - and that has an internal one should you need to access it - which I don’t believe I’ve had to yet. Many of these just have a Mix knob which is useful also in other ways, but it does not always compensate for the overall output volume of the effect.

 

I feel each of these has something to recommend it, and while the Wombtone is unlikely to be unseated any day soon - the competition for that slot is intensifying - with all these being worthy adversaries. The Cyclone has 4 modes based on classic phasers, while the Native Audio Midnight and Tap-Vein Dark Arts have numerous waveform types. The Native Audio has been somewhat cleaned up and simplified in its V2 edition - sporting only 1 toggle-switch in place of the previous 3, and having a Mix knob in place of the original’s Volume - while relegating that to an internal trim-pot.

 

I still feel that the Wombtone is perfect for my own needs - but I am toying with adding another variety here for sometime rotational duties - and with the new Cyclone - that choice is more difficult than ever before!

 

Pedals are listed in alphabetical order by brand as usual :


Chase Bliss Audio Wombtone MKII Analog Phaser - £349

This is my avowed favourite phaser - with selectable 2,4 and 6 Stage modes - the usual ModuShape waveform settings including Depth and Form, alongside start and end wave formats, We also have controls for Feedback/Ramp, Volume, Mix, Rate and Tap-Tempo divisions. Also included are of course 2 onboard presets and Chase Bliss's usual 16 dip-switches with Bounce/Ramping/Expression modes etc. This really does everything I need it to and in such an elegant manner with smart options to take this in new directions. I have 5 phasers currently and I always come back to this one.


Crazy Tube Circuits Cyclone Phaser - £189

The big thing about this analog circuit is the 4 classic phaser modes onboard:

  • 45 (MXR Phase 45 2 Stage Phaser)
  • 90 (MXR Phase 90 4 Stage Phaser)
  • ST (EHX Small Stone 4 Stage Phaser)
  • LT (Lovetone Doppelgänger Dual LFO Phaser)

Besides that and a separate tap-tempo footswitch you have controls for Mix, Feedback, Depth and Speed - no separate tap-divisions, but elegant in its simplicity. I really like the overall package here and feel this will do well.


Native Audio Midnight Phaser V2 - £199

As mentioned in the intro this has been somewhat simplified since the V1. 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 Mix knob in place of Volume - which 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). As mentioned in the intro 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 possibly two more tasty alternatives.


This is easily the best value option of those listed here, and comes with some of its own aces up its sleeve - including a very formidable 16 waverform options selected 1-8 on the Waveform dial, and via the left/right Phase toggle switch which gives you original and alternative waveforms per position on the dial. We then have Centre Shift control which shifts the peak of the waveform, then Tap-Tempo Divisions, Rate, Feedback, Voice (Dry/Wet Mix) and the aforementioned Waveform selector. As with all of these it is an analog circuit with surface digital controls and separate tap-tempo footswitch. It's currently available at a £10 discount and I must say I'm pretty tempted by this.


Final Thoughts and Recommendations

So no major surprises really - my favourite on balance is still very much the Chase Bliss Audio Wombtone - while each of the others fiercely contests the runner-up slot. I am leaning towards the CTC Cyclone here for its clever combination of those 4 essential classic phaser modes, but the keen pricing of the Dark Arts Phaser makes that somewhat irresistible too.

 

I've often spoken about the impact of price and availability, and Native Audio has only one European dealer - which happens to be in the Netherlands - 'The Sound Lab' - which makes that a slightly less likely option for me, not that I haven't bought lots from the Netherlands previously - it's just the relative price points and availability of the others makes them more acquisitionable (accessible)!

 

There are obviously all manner of phasers out there including some very watery swirly ones, which though don't tend to do the EVH distortion phasing so well - the Zvex Vibrophase is a great case in point. So it's still very much the CBA Wombtone for me for now, but I may have another of these for the rotation at some stage - either the Cyclone or Dark Arts most likely...

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Stefan Karlsson
Stefan Karlsson
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