The Canadian Guitar Forum banner

1 - 14 of 14 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,193 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I really like the sound of the classic BOSS CE-2. It's all over so many records we know and love, etc.

They seem kind of expensive (to me) for a BOSS pedal.

I'm wondering if there are other products out there which are highly similar. Clones maybe, or similar sounding pedals.

I've been using an old VisualSound H2O, which has a very lush and pleasant sounding (to me anyway) chorus, but that unit is rather large and clunky, and it is kind of limited in the sense that I really only like it at the slowest speed, with width and delay time set quite high. It does sound great like that, but it would be nice to have a range of usable settings.

I watched a few videos on youtube today and started to wonder if the Electric Mistress might be a good option. Some of the guys on the tube mentioned that a lot of the sounds we associated with chorus were really more flanger sounds, and the Electric Mistress came up in a discussion about Andy Summers from the Police.

Anybody got an Electric Mistress pedal and like it?

Any other ideas for chorus that's kind of like the old Boss CE-2?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
24,680 Posts
Although many will say that chorus X using this chip is "better" than chorus Y using that chip, a lot of the time what people like or don't like about a given chorus tends to be the delay-time range selected by the manufacturer. Or it might even be a delay-time range that the manufacturer didn't intend but got anyway.

The majority of chorus pedals will use the Panasonic chip set consisting of the MN3007 (delay chip) and MN3101 (clock chip) or MN3207 (delay chip) and MN3102 (clock). The range of delay times produced by the clock is partially set by a single capacitor, somewhere under 100pf, and frequently 47-68pf. A few picofarads this way or that, changes the delay-time range, such that this chorus sweeps from 2msec to 12msec, while that one goes from 3-15. Very small shifts in what sort of delay times are being produced can change the character of the chorus to our ears. Those capacitors tend to have wide tolerances. So the schematic may say 47pf, but the actual measured value might be 50 or 44, changing what delay times are produced.

Flangers will often sweep from 1msec to somewhere around 15msec, while choruses will have a narrower range of sweep and often not descend below 2-3msec. So many flangers will encompass the delay-time ranges of chorus but extend beyond them. Chorus sweep speeds will rarely be as slow as those found in flangers., partly because the narrower range of delay-times makes it hard to perceive when the sweep is that slow.

Because longer delay times require slower clocks, and slower clocks can be audible if slow enough, the delay range selected by the manufacturer can sometimes be associated with different filtering of the delay signal. Not always, but sometimes. And how much top end is left in can also change the character of the chorus produced.

One will hear much chatter about the superiority of the MN3007 chip. It's partly, but not entirely true. The first-generation delay chips were made to operate at higher voltages, and many of those earlier chorus and flanger pedals used two 9V batteries or perhaps a 15V or 18V external supply. In principle, that would yield higher headroom, hence lower risk of distortion when pushed harder. Sometime inthe early to mid-80's, Panasonic made the switch to the 32xx series of delay chips, that would operate from 5V. This provided a certain measure of stability. All analog delay chips have to be "biased" in order to function properly, and the bias voltage is derived from the power supply. Of course, if one was running the pedal from a 9V battery, as the battery grew older, the setting of the little trimmer inside the pedal which provided that bias voltage (set at the factory) would become less valid (i.e., 14/15 of 9.6V is not the same as 14/15 of 8.2V). The 32xx series of chips solved that problem by only needing 5V and a lower bias voltage. The 9V battery would get regulated down to 5V and whatever the bias was set to at the factory would be valid for the life of the pedal. Yes, the 9V battery would eventually get old and weak, but the bias would remain valid until the battery was too weak to even power the pedal at all.

However, let's get back on track. I have hundreds of chorus-pedal schematics on my hard drive, and they don't differ from each other by very much. They pretty well all use triangle-wave LFOs, and the same filtering. This is why I say that many differences emerge out of small, almost imperceptible differences in the delay times produced. Happily, you can monkey around with that, merely by playing with the capacitor value. Open up any chorus using the Panasonic chipset, and snuggled up close to the MN3101/3102 will be a small ceramic capacitor in the neighbourhood of 47-100pf. If the delay chip used has fewer stages, it will be clocked slower to produce the desied delay time and have a larger-value cap as a result (e.g., the Korg CHR uses a 256-stage delay chip, rather than 1024-stage, and employs a 220pf cap). Since those caps arew small and rather flat, one can always tack on an additional small-value cap in parallel with the existing one, on the copper side of the board. So, if you can identify the solder pads of the existing cap, and tack on a 10pf cap (making sure not to create solder bridges in the process), the delay time will be increased. Longer delay-time ranges are generally associated with a "thicker" sound (think Pat Metheny). Of course, if the sound is currently too thick for your tastes, then one can remove the existing cap and replace it with a smaller value (e.g., swap out 68pf for 56 or even 47pf). Sometimes, that can be enough to turn a chorus that doesn't quite sound the way you want into something you enjoy playing.

There are other simple mods that can make any chorus more usable, but I'll set those aside for now.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,193 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
I've listened to a lot of demos of the "Waza" re-issue CE-2w and it does sound really great. It's close to $300 though, much like the used price on a classic CE-2.

That kind of money usually gets me three pedals, not one. I'm considering it though.

I'm also interested in the Stereo Electric Mistress, which adds chorus to the classic flanger. Most of the demos I've seen of this pedal make it seem as if the demonstrator doesn't really understand how the pedal works. I really haven't seen anything that isolates the chorus sound, so I can tell whether it's useful. New price on a Stereo Electric Mistress is only $149, so used should be quite inexpensive.

Does anyone own the EHX pedal? Do you like it? Is the chorus useful with the flanger volume at zero?

There seem to be some cool sounds in it, including some ring modulation stuff. The one thing that concerns me a bit is that it sounds sort of "lo fi". I can't tell if that's just youtube or what. (Yeah, I know, I should just go find a store that has one and listen to it).

 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
3,209 Posts
I built myself a CE-2 with CE-2B mods (basically an extra knob for effect level, a signal filtering switch - basically guit vs bass switch, and an intense mode, which is my issue with other choruses; sometimes too subtle, especially with bass). There are plenty of kits or even plain PCBs available; that's my suggestion. I used the Mad Bean PCB which accommodated the mods no problem. Forget what chips I used (most likely 32xx) but I love the damn thing. Its so good I use it as an aux send from the console when mixing stuff. Had an MXR stereo unit before and not as lush.

Pics and my build report

(basically the 3 controls along the left edge are the mods - everything to the right of that is stock CE-2 (with the exception of the rate LED, which Boss did not provide, but the PCB I got did have that there already).

I think build your own clone does a complete (everything you need) CE-2 kit, if that's more your speed. Not a hard build. Yep : Analog Chorus

I used some cooler parts and got to improvise (mods/paint job/larger enclosure) but (assuming no deluxe cosmetic options selected) I don't think I paid significantly less for the parts (though I had a few extra things in there obviously). All in you can do it for $60-100 + labour (a coupla hours not including artwork - can build it in a single evening), depending on how fancy you are and (if not a kit) how good you are about sourcing parts.

Even better than the CE-2 was the DC-2, which is even more expensive for a vintage unit, and for which there is only 1 rev eng project PCB available that I know of (no full kits): Blueshift Chorus (Boss DC-2 Dimension C) - Aion Electronics . That is a really hard build tho. I was considering it but I am so happy with my CE-2... will probably grab a PCB set anyway next time I order anything from Aion (the best PCBs and project documentation of any one on the internet IMHO, but never full kits, which is fine by me... Mad Bean is up there too; never used BYOC, but friends have).


Now re the Electric Mistress, I have the Mad Bean PCB for a clone of that too in the build queue, but it's gotta wait until I finish a few other projects first despite how excited I am for it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
24,680 Posts
The DC-2 was the undisputed king of stompbox choruses. People tend to avoid it because it only has 4 radio-style buttons and no rotary controls, but it kicks the ass of everything else, including the CE-2.

Why? Most other chorus units use a single delay chip that lags behind or tries to catch up in time with the dry signal. Bt the fact that it slows down and speeds up produces an audible "pitch wobble". My own view is that this pitch wobble is one of the reasons why bass players are often dissatisfied with choruses. Bass holds the fort down so its pitch has to be clear and well-defined for the other players. Wobbling that pitch is disruptive. This is the basis for the low-cut I always include on my chorus pedals, and the one that Granny Gremlin also appears to include. Cutting the bass out of the delay path applies the "swirl" to the mids and highs but leaves the bass untouched, so that the fundamental remains solid.

The DC-2 and the ridiculously inexpensive Behringer clone of the DC-2 (I hought mine for $20 new) uses two delay chips, that are counterswept. That is, when one goes a bit sharp, the other goes a bit flat. The result is a thick and rich-sounding chorus that doesn't seem to have any pitch wobble. I actually prefer the Behringer to the BOss original because of the cheaper buttons. The Boss buttons are mutually exclusive. That is, press any one and it defeats all the others. The Behringer allowsx the pedal to work with any combination of buttons pressed or even none of them pressed (the setting I like best, a nice slow Leslie-like swirl) Just a great-sounding chorus. I must have at least a dozen or so chorus pedals and chorus-capable units, and that one is the best sounding to me


Of course, if you want the absolute BEST chorus for under a hundred bucks, keep your eyes peeled for one of those two-keyboard home organs that keep showing up on Kijiji "free for pickup to a good home". Nearly all of them include a rotating speaker assembly under the hood. Talk nice to the granny, don't let on what you're going to do, bring it home and rip that sucker open. I got my first one in 1978 or so, and rotating speaker will kick chorus pedal's ass every time. A couple years ago, Tim Larwill, who makes the Retro-Sonic pedals and a clone of the CE-1, came over to the house. He had been perfecting and perfecting the CE-1 clone (which is a great pedal) but had never actually played through a rotating speaker. I plugged him in and "Holy shit!" were the first words out of his mouth. No chorus will ever get you the spatial swirl of a rotating speaker. The down side is that the speaker included is generally an 8" rated at around 20W or so, and you have to build a cab to house it in. As well, the design necessitates it rotating on the vertical plane rather than horizontal, so you lose some sound whenever the baffle points to the floor. Here's an example somebody posted using the exact same mechanism.

 
P

·
Guest
Joined
·
0 Posts
I've listened to a lot of demos of the "Waza" re-issue CE-2w and it does sound really great. It's close to $300 though, much like the used price on a classic CE-2.

That kind of money usually gets me three pedals, not one. I'm considering it though.

I'm also interested in the Stereo Electric Mistress, which adds chorus to the classic flanger. Most of the demos I've seen of this pedal make it seem as if the demonstrator doesn't really understand how the pedal works. I really haven't seen anything that isolates the chorus sound, so I can tell whether it's useful. New price on a Stereo Electric Mistress is only $149, so used should be quite inexpensive.

Does anyone own the EHX pedal? Do you like it? Is the chorus useful with the flanger volume at zero?

There seem to be some cool sounds in it, including some ring modulation stuff. The one thing that concerns me a bit is that it sounds sort of "lo fi". I can't tell if that's just youtube or what. (Yeah, I know, I should just go find a store that has one and listen to it).

I bought one a few years ago. I recall it was nice sounding but noisy. It could have been I did not give it enough mAh though, not sure.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
3,209 Posts
The DC-2 was the undisputed king of stompbox choruses. People tend to avoid it because it only has 4 radio-style buttons and no rotary controls, but it kicks the ass of everything else, including the CE-2.

Why? Most other chorus units use a single delay chip that lags behind or tries to catch up in time with the dry signal. Bt the fact that it slows down and speeds up produces an audible "pitch wobble". My own view is that this pitch wobble is one of the reasons why bass players are often dissatisfied with choruses. Bass holds the fort down so its pitch has to be clear and well-defined for the other players. Wobbling that pitch is disruptive. This is the basis for the low-cut I always include on my chorus pedals, and the one that Granny Gremlin also appears to include. Cutting the bass out of the delay path applies the "swirl" to the mids and highs but leaves the bass untouched, so that the fundamental remains solid.

The DC-2 and the ridiculously inexpensive Behringer clone of the DC-2 (I hought mine for $20 new) uses two delay chips, that are counterswept. That is, when one goes a bit sharp, the other goes a bit flat. The result is a thick and rich-sounding chorus that doesn't seem to have any pitch wobble. I actually prefer the Behringer to the BOss original because of the cheaper buttons. The Boss buttons are mutually exclusive. That is, press any one and it defeats all the others. The Behringer allowsx the pedal to work with any combination of buttons pressed or even none of them pressed (the setting I like best, a nice slow Leslie-like swirl) Just a great-sounding chorus. I must have at least a dozen or so chorus pedals and chorus-capable units, and that one is the best sounding to me


Of course, if you want the absolute BEST chorus for under a hundred bucks, keep your eyes peeled for one of those two-keyboard home organs that keep showing up on Kijiji "free for pickup to a good home". Nearly all of them include a rotating speaker assembly under the hood. Talk nice to the granny, don't let on what you're going to do, bring it home and rip that sucker open. I got my first one in 1978 or so, and rotating speaker will kick chorus pedal's ass every time. A couple years ago, Tim Larwill, who makes the Retro-Sonic pedals and a clone of the CE-1, came over to the house. He had been perfecting and perfecting the CE-1 clone (which is a great pedal) but had never actually played through a rotating speaker. I plugged him in and "Holy shit!" were the first words out of his mouth. No chorus will ever get you the spatial swirl of a rotating speaker. The down side is that the speaker included is generally an 8" rated at around 20W or so, and you have to build a cab to house it in. As well, the design necessitates it rotating on the vertical plane rather than horizontal, so you lose some sound whenever the baffle points to the floor. Here's an example somebody posted using the exact same mechanism.

TLDR version: the reason that the DC-2 is considerred the best is because it is push-pull vs single ended. This gives a balanced even response with no warble, but all the shimmer. It is best in stereo mode (though many love and use it mono).

Additionally, rotating speaker emulation is not all a chorus can do; personally I'm not into the Leslie thing so much (it's cool I guess), but I love chorus.

Incidentally the best chorus I ever heard was on my Roland UA-100 (the first USB recording interface ever - cost me $700 new at Steve's Music in the mid 90s). It had software emulations of just about every Boss pedal ever made (or at least 1 in each category), including the CE-1 and/or 2 (don't recall exactly) BUT since it was software, there were a hundred more parameters and you could essentially tweak the circuit in ways not possible with hardware (e.g. chip limitations etc - you could set the delay to unreasonable times). There was a preset called Hexa-Chorus and it was the shit. Once I found that I stopped bothering to manually tweak the settings. I may have overused that.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
24,680 Posts
Once I'm finished building everything else, I plan to finally make use of the MN3011 chip Jeorge Tripps generously gave me some years ago. It has 6 taps at different points and was used in the A/DA STD-1 Stereo tapped delay, whose outstanding capabilities you can see demonstrated (via plug-in) here. (Quite possible the Hexa Chorus was attempting to emulate the STD-1). My planned implementation isn't quite as complex as the A/DA original, since I want to make it a stompbox, rather than rack unit. My plan was to have channel-flip switches for taps 1+2, 3+4, 5+6, and level/blend pots for each of those pairs, in addition to regen+tap, vibrato switch, manual delay, speed and width. So, 7 knobs, and 5 toggles. So, if used in mono, I could assign taps 2 and 3 to the left, belnd them in full for a thick sound, and take my regen from tap 6. The idea of a full 6-tap stereo vibrato is something I'm eagerly awaiting.

But we're wandering a little far afield here. I say, if you can find a Behringer CC300, snag it. You won't be disappointed.

 
1 - 14 of 14 Posts
Top