MXR M234 Analog Chorus Pedal
MXR’s analog chorus pedal houses a bucket-brigade circuit, which is the truest form of “analog” you can get. That same type of circuit has been used for a number of other oscillating effects, including phasers. The analog circuit in the M234 produces a distinctly retro sound, though with plenty of range per the control scheme.
Textures resulting are lush and liquid, ideal for layering lead melody. We really like the M234 with the rate lowered, giving you a soft sheen of modulation that doesn’t impact the pitch of your clean sound.
If you want more of a noticeable pitch shift, just turn the rate up for a deeper cut. For a really subtle clean rhythm layer, turn depth down and leave the rate control at about 50 percent.
On low-key settings like that, the tone of the M234 is at its best.
Of course, this can all be embellished or cut down with the effects level control which adjusts the mix between your clean and wet signal.
EarthQuaker Devices Sea Machine V2 Chorus Pedal
All chorus pedals will add a slight shift in pitch, giving your tuning a bit of ambiguity. However, the EarthQuaker Devices Sea Machine has so much versatility in its controls, that you can dial in a warped sound that seems almost like a pitch-shifter combined with vibrato.
The Sea Machine definitely has an ambient quality to its modulation. It just seems to cover more than your average chorus effect, and at the same time has a bunch of different control mechanisms that you don’t see in other chorus pedals, which I’ll cover in the next section.
Like the M234, you can lower the rate knob and get a subtle, warm layer of modulation, though the additional knobs give you a lot more options that are more “out there” than what you’d expect from a traditional modulation pedal.
Walrus Audio Julia Analog Chorus
The Julia is the second analog chorus pedal on our list, with a tone that compares closely with the M234. It’s also a combination chorus and vibrato pedal, with a mix knob that works by blending between dry, chorus, and vibrato instead of a hard switch between modes.
You get a good blend of vibrato and chorus that does a nice job of respecting your clean tone, which we’ve noticed is a common characteristic of analog chorus pedals. They just seem to preserve your amps natural sound a lot better, which alone could make them worth the additional cost.
The Julia is a much clearer modulation with less emphasis on pitch shifting and more of a focus on shimmer and layering, per the added vibrato.
While we’ve graded it below the M234, an argument could be made for either of those pedals being higher than the other.
TC Electronic Corona Chorus Pedal
TC Electronic always does a great job of getting a lot of value into their pedals, and the Corona is a good example of that. Highlights include stereo i/o, two different chorus modes, and true bypass wiring, which perfectly preserves the tone of your clean signal when the pedal is off.
From a tone perspective it’s really warm and smooth, and takes a heavy turn of the depth knob to throw off your pitch. This makes it a good choice for rhythm players who might want to layer clean chord progressions, or even acoustic players that want to decorate or thicken up their sound.
However, it’s similar to the CE-5 in that it doesn’t do quite enough to beat the quality scores of the M234 and the Sea Machine.
Boss CE-5 Chorus Ensemble
The Boss CE-5 Chorus Ensemble is a marginally more involved version of the Super Chorus, with a filter control that allows you to cut both highs and lows out of the effect’s EQ. Of the two, I’ve found the CE-5 to be more subtle and nuanced, better for rhythm playing and light layering. Personally, I prefer the CE-5, though both Boss chorus pedals are similar.
While the CE-5’s effect sounds good, I didn’t find it quite as warm or inviting after using the M234 and the Sea Machine. Even compared to the Corona, the tone of the CE-5 sounds a little more processed and digitized, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s just the reason I didn’t want to score it as high as the others.
It’s a great-sounding chorus, though with a higher price tag than the M234, I’d like to be a little more wowed by the tone quality, and it was just par for me.
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