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The Joyful Elegance of Using VS Audio's Preset-Enabled Alchemy Analog Chorus

Chorus and VibratoModulationVS Audio
202GPXVSAudioAlchemyChorusMain700V3.jpg

This adventure started back on January 8th when I received an email from Mr VS Audio himself - one Panos Sotiropoulos - informing me that he would be attending NAMM to showcase his 3 latest pedals - the Alchemy Analog Chorus, Project Diana Analog Delay and Aftermath Dynamic Distortion + Boost. Most of us are now used to the humorous and charismatic Vangelis Kritharis leading the demos - and he is most definitely the public face of VS Audio at most of the guitar shows and collaborates closely with Panos to help calibrate the pedals and set the Presets for instance.

 

Of course I did my usual due diligence at the time, and then wrote up a brief overview. Back then I had yet to pick out an overall favourite, but I mentioned how pleased I was to see all dual-footswitch pedals - and with footswitchable presets onboard for the Chorus and Delay. Both the Chorus and Delay are also stereo-out, or you can use that second output socket with a TRS Patch Cable to sync the Chorus with the Delay - so that you can step up the presets simultaneously from the assigned master pedal (whichever comes first). For my rig, and because of its specific setup - I would really need the pedal to be stereo ins + out for me to use it in stereo mode - which means that it can only be used in mono for me - but that’s exactly what I was looking for!

 

My incumbent pedal on my pedal-chain Analog Chorus slot was the Chase Bliss Audio Warped Vinyl MKII, which I still really love and retain, but I was looking for something a little more practically usable - that contained a really broad range of versatility, was properly analog, and allowed me to switch easily between a series of preset tones.

 

The Alchemy Analog Chorus uses a reissue of the fantastic MN3207 Bucket Brigade Chip - for the ultimate in vintage-inspired warm, organic modulation. The delay control sets the centre delay time that the LFO modulates around - giving you also those superb Boss/Roland Dimension C/D types of tones, and really nailing that Prince Purple Rain style sound - as well as most of your 80’s heroes - The Police, The Cure etc. Similarly to Chase Bliss Audio this is a Full Analog Signal Path pedal with solely digital surface control layer - for preset management in this case.

 

Control of this pedal could not be more elegant really - 4 knobs and dual footswitches - the right hand one of which allows you to so easily step through your presets / flavours during playback.

 

The 4 controls are as follows :

  • Mix : Dry to Wet Ratio - dial up for more Effect
  • Delay : Controls the center delay time that the LFO modulates around - you can get some really cool phasey-chorus sounds with this
  • Speed : Sweep Rate of the Effect
  • Depth : Intensity of the Effect

Those 4 knobs give you the most fantastic range of flavours. I variously have my manual default set as a sort of medium-bold standard chorus - with the delay turned almost totally back - or I go with the Purple Rain style variety which setting I collaborated on with VS Audio to get as near as possible.

 

The 6 Onboard Presets as also detailed in the above visual are :

  • BLUE : Standard Chorus - Minimal Delay, otherwise median / moderate values
  • GREEN : Gentle Wash - Low Speed combined with otherwise median / moderate values
  • RED : Rotary-Esque - Maximum Speed with Minimal Delay for those swirly rotary style tones - this is what the Stereo Output was made for!
  • MAGENTA : Walking on the Moon - Classic 80’s Police-style Chorus
  • YELLOW : Phasey-Chorus - Somewhat more pronounced than Purple Rain - but in that general ball-park - with Maximum Delay applied here
  • WHITE : Seasick-Warble - That Fluttery Vibrato-esque Detune-style Chorus which is so much fun in small doses

I so like the range of Presets in fact that I’ve left them largely untouched - they are just a great sampler for the overall capabilities of this pedal, and for now I’ve preferred to dial in my default settings simply on the manual panel.

 

There is only one downside for this pedal in my opinion, and it’s a minor one, or the slightly clunky Save Preset sequence :

  1. Adjust knobs as required
  2. Press and Hold both Footswitches - Preset LED (lower) blinks
  3. Choose the desired Colour Preset by pressing Right Footswitch to step through colours
  4. Press and Hold Left Footswitch AND Then Press and Hold Right Footswitch for 3 seconds - until Preset LED (lower) blinks 3 times - indicating Preset Saved!

I’ve used the word Elegant here several times to emphasize how beautifully elegant and musical this chorus is at all times - and while it has enormous range within those parameters it fully stays within those well-behaved boundaries. Perhaps we could see a deluxe version in the future with a couple of extra controls - say Volume and Tone - to give you also something a little different and more extreme.

 

As it is, this pedal is just a delight to use. Initially I thought it was overly delicate and subtle - but I soon got the measure of the range and taper of each dial and was easily able to dial in several flavours exactly to my liking. Having a couple of extra controls is certainly not necessary to get the maximum enjoyment out of this pedal - its use is just effortless - and it’s as musical and tuneful on clean, overdrive and distortion tones, and pairs really nicely with my ThorpyFX Camoflange Flanger and Chase Bliss Audio Wombtone Phaser too. You just hold down the right footswitch to enter Preset mode and can then step through those 6 colour sequences, press-hold again and you’re back to your manual defaults.

 

When I was looking out for a new Chorus Pedal I though I really needed either the tap-tempo variety of the Warped Vinyl, or the simple and easy push-button mechanics of the Boss DC-2W. Yet having the 6 Presets plus your manual default - means that you have 7 instantly switchable flavours just a tap away - covering every degree of Chorus nuance you could need within any playlist set.

 

I’ve long advocated the greater use of onboard footswitchable presets - and apart from the slightly clunky Preset Save - this is a pretty flawless execution. Did I mention how glorious it sounds?...

 

The Alchemy Analog Chorus is available on the VS Audio Store for €249.

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Stefan Karlsson
Stefan Karlsson
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