When I did my 9 Best Flangers overview - it consisted of 3 compact, 3 medium, 2 large and 1 mini pedal. The mini pedal of choice was the Mooer E-Lady or earlier named Eleclady, while there are also the Mooer Jet Engine, and TC Electronic Mini Vortex that are viable alternatives - and that’s pretty much it at that level. At the top end then was the discontinued Subdecay Starlight DLX - which was still available in some outlets and on Reverb.com - while recently sightings of it have become increasingly rare.
As I am increasingly focused on compact enclosure pedals - I will be doing a 12 Best Compact Flangers feature after this one - so I thought I should focus on the other alternatives available beyond the compacts first.
As is often the case - as one falls, another one rises - and this particular post is mostly about the EarthQuaker Devices Pyramids Stereo Flanger - which takes most of what the Starlight DLX did and then raises the stakes considerably by adding full stereo and presets. I feel that the Pyramids is about the most feature-rich flanger pedal ever produced and can cover a huge range of swirly effects - including very decent chorusing.
I’ve decided to keep the Starlight DLX in the selection - as much for benchmarking and comparison purposes - I think if you really wanted one you could hunt down a copy in a month or two - although it really makes more sense to get the Pyramids - which does more overall in a slightly smaller form-factor. Notably all the pedals here can do the more advanced ’Through-Zero’ style of flanging which is generally not available on the more compact alternatives.
Also in this listing are the new-to-me Foxrox Paradox TZF2 - a pro-spec’d full analogue Through-Zero Flanger, and the excellent Stymon Orbit - which I feel could do with the addition of proper stereo ins to its stereo outs (you can use TRS cable for stereo input but it’s more fiddly) - for more versatile pedalboard / pedal-chain placement.
It’s a mystery to this day why I have yet to acquire any EarthQuaker Devices pedals - I usually have them high in my considerations but end up picking something else for whatever reason - two EQD pedals that I am certain to get eventually though are its Data Corrupter Schumann PLL style clone, and this exceptional flagship Pyramids flanger.
Pedal are listed alphabetically by brand:
This now has to be The flag-bearer for Flanging - featuring 8 Modes, 5 Presets, 6 further dials - Manual, Rate, Width, Mix, Feedback and Modify - as well as a 3-way Rate range selector. Of course we have separate tap-tempo footswitch and full stereo ins and outs. It's possibly a little larger than I would like - but will likely displace my Chase Bliss Audio Spectre at some stage. This would all be rendered moot if the pedal didn't sound great - which it really does - I think there is no doubt that if you're into Flanging - then this is the first pedal that should be on your list!
The Foxrox brand is new to me - as is this Paradox TZF2 Through-Zero Flanger. A proper professional's live playback flanger with fully analogue circuit - 6 dials - Volume, Mix, Envelop, Depth, Manual and Speed. Also two 2-way toggle switches - Ramp Control and Mix Polarity. Interestingly, the second footswitch here is a Ramp switch rather than the more usual tap-tempo. You can select to apply ramping to either the Manual or Speed control. There's no doubt that this is a great sounding flanger, and slightly different to the rest here - it is relatively pricey though considering what it bring to the party.
I'm a long-standing Strymon fan, even though they haven't been updated for yonks now. This is a great medium enclosure flanger - with it's Speed, Width, Mix, Regen and Manual dials and 2 x 3-way Feedback and LFO toggles. Interestingly - this particular pedal has no secondary / alternative functions on its dials which is unusual for this style of Strymon pedal. As mentioned in the intro I would prefer dual input sockets for stereo rather than having to rely on specialist TRS / splitter cable - which is not always easy to come across. The Orbit has always been a great Flanger option, but is now somewhat overshadowed by what you can do with the newer Pyramids - it's still a really great Flanger though, and my second choice at this size.
This now rather over-sized pedal was the MacDaddy of flangers for a long while - with it's 11 modes and extremely fine-tuned Speed dial - funnily enough here Speed is called Mode, and Mode is called Shape! You have 6 more dials - Warp, Depth, Manual, Regen, Gate, Volume and Feedback toggle. You also have the pretty essential for me - tap-tempo/hold footswitch. This compares pretty well to the newer EQD Pyramids - although it lacks the stereo outputs and presets of that newer pedal. The Starlight DLX is still a fine flanger pedal, and may be re-introduced in the newer more compact DLX format - we'll see. It will need to update itself somewhat though to be fully competitive with the Pyramids.
I pretty much knew the outcome of these deliberations before I started writing this post - I thought I really wanted the Pyramids pedal, and now I'm 100% positive that I do - most likely a next year acquisition though. The Strymon Orbit is a handy deputy here and no slouch - but the Pyramids definitely gives you more, and I'm happy to see the inclusion of presets - which I definitely want to see on more pedals - following the lead of the more innovative pedal-makers like Alexander and Chase Bliss - who always include presets. I feel all new pedals could do with some sort of preset functionality - even if just one or two options.
Flanging is still seen as a more specialist modulation - as can be seen by the fewer numbers of pedals available in this category. And while there have been lots of new Phaser pedals recently, Flanging has seen some drop-offs and discontinuations - with one of the more recent casualties the excellent Chase Bliss Audio Spectre.
Flanging is such an underrated effect - as an EVH fan it's an essential component to that key sound - and you also have the more classic swirly EHX Electric Mistress style of flanging which adds wonderful dynamics to your core tone. I will always have an analogue flanger somewhere in my pedal-chain - right now it's the Chase Bliss Spectre, but I feel that the EQD Pyramids will soon be pride of place!