Flanger vs Phaser vs Chorus – Demystifying These Three Great Effects!

Flanger vs Phaser vs Chorus


The time we reside in right now is a superb one for guitar players. Not so way back, most had a few overdrives, possibly a distortion or two, and a reverb. Today, things are very completely different.

Whereas there are many unique-sounding audio effects for sound design, there are a number of you’re likely to come throughout time and time once more: chorus, flangers, and phasers. These processors are all associated and are often confused with one another, however, they’ve notable differences which might be worth stating.

It’s possible to make use of these processors without understanding precisely how they work, however being more knowledgeable about what’s really taking place will let you use them more deliberately and more successfully.

One of many more fascinating sorts of guitar effects pedals is modulation effects. By modulation effects, we’re primarily talking about flangers, phasers, and chorus pedals.

These three are comparable in some regards, which has led many to confuse them for each other. The three effects we’re taking a look at right here — chorus, flange, and phase — are all members of the modulation family of effects. So earlier than we go any further, let’s outline what “modulation” means.

Flanger vs Phaser vs Chorus

What Is Modulation?

With regards to modulating sound, the definition will get extra convoluted. In nerdy, scientific/electronic phrases, right here’s what modulation means: “the method of varying a number of properties of a periodic waveform, referred to as the ‘carrier signal,’ with a modulating signal.”

Let’s simplify that complicated mouthful by saying this. In a nutshell: “a modulation effect is one which messes along with your signal in a cyclical and fascinating method. This not only provides a way of movement to your sound but invariably provides musical width and dimension to it too.”

As we all know, when used tastefully, chorus, flange, and phase can add additional life and a vibrant sparkle to a signal. And the same typically goes for a much less subtle use too. How are these desirable effects achieved? Well, in very simplistic words, modulation pedals fluctuate the frequency (pitch), amplitude (volume), or phase of your guitar’s signal in varied intelligent, and musically pleasing ways.

What Is Modulation

Why Everybody Needs To Know The Distinction Between These Effects

Well, other than the obvious incontrovertible fact that modulation plays a formidable function in the modern guitar tone, understanding the distinction between these three effects can profit you as a guitar player and music producer.

Guitar effects are tools initially. They’re designed to add taste to music and to assist the creator to express themselves with extra detail. You should use all three of those effects in the same tune, and have each one add extra value to that tune.

For instance, a chorus is an ideal tool to make use of for certain elements of a solo, whereas flangers are superior for rhythm guitars. Figuring out how to make the most of every one of those three effects might help you immensely down the road. However, having the ability to differentiate flangers, phasers, and chorus fully changes the way you’ll apply these effects.

Flangers are infamous for being extraordinarily risky but in addition addictive. For many players new to this effect, playing with a flanger is a rabbit hole with no sign of ending.

Going overboard with the amount of flange you add to the track can lead to that flanging effect going from being a taste to being the main focus of a tune. That’s one thing nobody desires regardless of how cool it could sound. Choruses and phasers are rather more suitable even in higher values.

Let’s check out what these three effects in the core are:

What is Flanger?

Flangers are one of many weirdest however in the end addictive effects on the market. A flanger takes the supply signal, duplicates it, then provides a small quantity of delay to one copy, all whereas altering delay time as you play. The result is something that seems like a jet engine flying overhead.

A flanger will not be too dissimilar to a Phaser, however, could be a lot wetter sounding. A flanger occurs when the signal is cut up into 2, one is delayed after which put back on top of the opposite. Essentially the most audibly pleasing flangers are operating at somewhere below 15ms delay, however the rate control changes that. The effect of the flanger going swoosh is where the delayed signal then has the delay time assorted in a continuing cycle, up and down.

Name: Legend has it that a producer was operating two equivalent copies of audio and pressed towards the flange of the reel to gradually one down barely to make it run ever so barely out of time. “Flanger”.

That is hotly disputed although as George Martin has stated that the phrase comes from Lennon throughout the recording of the Revolver album, Lennon was enquiring about “artificial double tracking” and Martin answered with nonsense “Now pay attention, it’s quite simple. We take the unique image and we cut up it through a double vibrated sploshing flange with double-negative feedback”.

Lennon thought he was joking and Martin responded with “Well, let’s flange it once more and see”. Lennon went on to name it “Ken’s Flanger” after Abbey Road engineer Ken Townsend carried out the method of copying the vocal line and barely delaying it. The idea was later expanded into a stereo and was first credited to Eddie Kramer throughout the recording of Axis Bold As Love by Hendrix in 1967.

what is flanger

What is Chorus?

‘Chorusing’ is the sound we understand when a number of voices (or instruments) play an identical note, however, fluctuates very slightly in pitch and timing from one another. Simply consider how an actual choir or string ensemble works.

This effect creates a wealthy, shimmering quality that sounds ‘bigger than it might with a single voice. Chorus is normally described as sounding lush and pure however could be pushed to the intense for “alien” like effects.

Chorus pedals are designed to imitate the wavering, space-evoking sound of a choir. Chorus pedals work very well in a stereo configuration, where the impact is produced via two extensively spaced amplifiers. When standing between the two in a big room, it has a surreal 3D effect on the listeners’ ears.

A well-dialed-in chorus pedal can certainly thicken and color your sound, including ample depth, dimension, and richness to make it sound like there’s one other guitar or four playing in unison with you!

Once more not surprisingly, on account of this, chorus pedals are extraordinarily popular — possibly not as fashionable as in the ’80s, however, they nonetheless stay a strong seller. There are numerous examples of the traditional use of chorus on guitar, together with “Come As You Are” by Nirvana, “Walking on the Moon” by the Police, “Welcome Home Sanitarium” by Metallica (the clear elements), “Pretty Woman” by Van Halen, “I Will Follow” by U2, and naturally, “More Than a Feeling” or just about anything by Boston.

what is chorus

What is Phaser?

It shouldn’t be a shock that phase shifters (also called phasers) function on an identical thought to chorus and flanging, aside from one key distinction.

Once again, a duplicate of the unique signal is made. As an alternative to delaying the signal, nevertheless, it’s passed via a circuit referred to as an “all-pass filter.” One of these filters doesn’t have an effect on the level of frequency content within the signal, however, does introduce a phase shift around a set frequency.

Connecting one other all-pass filter afterward would create a single notch (one tooth of a comb filter). Phasers work by stringing a number of all-pass filters collectively in sequence to create a series of non-harmonically associated notch filters.

An LFO can then be used to modulate these notch filters, just like the movement in a flanger. Because of the inharmonic relationship between the phaser’s notch filters, the impact sounds extra mild—between that of the refrain and flanger.

The primary distinction right here is that phasers create a Doppler effect, which is the total extent of their capabilities. The explanation why so many individuals confuse phasers with flangers is as a result of a phaser additionally has a sweeping function at its core.

Nevertheless, the sweeping of phasers and that of a flanger will not be the same. Where flangers obtain their sweeps by altering the timing of delay, phaser pedals use filters that block out various portions of the frequency range. If we needed to put it in easy terms, we’d say that phasers are rather more orderly and predictable whereas flangers usually are not.

what is phaser


Typically confused attributable to their similarity, these processors all incorporate phase shifting in several ways. Chorus combines it with pitch modulation, flangers use it to trigger harmonic-based comb filtering, and phasers make use of all-pass filters to phase shift without the usage of delays.

Whereas chorus, flangers, and phase shifters might barely differ in their capabilities and application, all can be utilized successfully to create fascinating timbres in sound design.

Their capability to provide atmosphere, locationality, and modulating timbres (in ways in which the usual processors can’t) ought to secure their place in any producer or sound designer’s tool equipment.


Nikoloski is the founder and main content writer and editor of Mixing Tips. With his experience in audio engineering, mixing, and mastering for over 15 years, will provide hands-on experience and expertise in all the matters covered on this website.

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