Vox 1905 Chorus

Vox 1905 Chorus

The Vox 1905 Chorus is very straightforward to use. There are three controls; the usual Intensity (depth) and Speed, and also an 'Input' control. The Input control is a gain control for the chorus circuit but almost acts more like an effect level control.

The instructions state that the Input should set so that the peak LED lights up occasionally, but I find that its setting is also linked to the effect depth and prominence. Lower Input level settings (even with the Intensity dialled right up) will produce a fairly mild chorus; around halfway sounds right to me for most things; or by turning it up further the modulated signal will become louder and stronger with a very vibrato-esque effect the result. [It's not quite a vibrato as the direct signal can still be heard - although not always very easily.]

Even with the Input level turned up (so the peak LED is almost constantly lit), I don't really hear any negative artefacts in the output. [Although, if your guitar has very high output pick-ups, your experience could differ from mine.]

Unlike most modern chorus pedals, the 1905 Chorus runs at 18v and, being a 1970s-designed effect, the sound produced is warmer, softer and more subtle than the shimmering chorusing we're more used to hearing today.

While the 1905 Chorus is excellent at subtle thickening effects, it is also capable of more prominent sounds with extreme settings. The waveform is nice and wobbly; not too precise and has a bit of a spring and bounce to it.

If you are in the market for a chorus pedal but don't want one that is too bright or cheesy sounding, the Vox 1905 is one that is well worth investigating.

It is one of the best I've used for subtle movement and thickening but it can also be pushed for more out-there sounds. And it looks super-cool!

Guyatone PS-110 Chorus Machine Box

As I mentioned in my review of the Vox 1901 Distortion, the six pedals that made up Vox's 1900 Series of effects pedals were largely just re-housings of selected 1970s Guyatone effects.

Chorus Round-up (Part.2): Guyatone Edition

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Chorus Round-up (Part.1)

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Peavey BAC-2 Bi-Amp Bass Chorus

Peavey BAC-2 Bi-Amp Bass Chorus
[NOTE: I'm reviewing the BAC-2 for use with a normal 6-string electric guitar.]

The BAC-2 Bi-Amp Bass Chorus employs a fully companded, low noise design and Peavey state that it is equipped to handle high input signal levels - i.e. it is fine with line level signals.

The Bi-Amp function is mainly aimed at bass players, but it could probably be useful if you wanted to run an electric piano through it for example, or use it as a studio processor.

While using both outputs, the BAC-2 splits the signal at a crossover frequency of 350Hz; everything below that (the low frequencies) are sent to Output B and remain uneffected, while the mid and high frequencies (everything above 350Hz) are processed and sent to Output A.

This means that with a bass instrument, the low-end will remain intact, resulting in a cleaner processed sound with no low-end loss due to phase cancellations.

Or, you can use the BAC-2 in mono, whereby Output B provides a full range effect.

[NOTE: The bi-amp frequency split remains while the pedal is in bypass too.

Peavey were obviously very proud of the range of effects which included the BAC-2...

"Hand crafted in the USA"
"Rack Mount Performance... Floor Pedal Convenience"

Those are just two slogans they were throwing around as part of their marketing for these pedals.

The BAC-2 is an easy to use pedal with just two controls to worry about; the usual, self-explanatory Speed and Depth. These controls have a considerable range from slow to very fast and barely-there to heavily-detuned respectively; so there's plenty of scope to dial in a wide range of chorus tones.

The resulting effects are very rich and complex. There is definitely some added sparkle - this is an 80s chorus pedal after all - but it isn't overly bright like some can be, and thanks to the companded design, it is 'studio quiet'... So maybe Peavey weren't too far off with their claims!

As I alluded to earlier, you can dial in a multitude of chorus effects with this pedal, from subtle shimmers and ripples to springy wobbles and over the top detuned undulations. These effects aren't always pleasant, but if you follow the general guideline with chorus pedals of low-speed/high-depth and high-speed/low depth you can't really go very far wrong.

In my tests, I didn't find bi-amping useful with a 6-string guitar in standard tuning - probably as the crossover frequency is so low (there typically isn't a lot going on below 350Hz) - but in full-range (mono) mode, I really like it. It has such a wide range with lots of sweet spots, a pleasing hi-fi sound and will stand out when compared to many other chorus pedals.

Award MB10 Matchbox - [Shadows Version]

Award MB10 Matchbox
- Shadows Version

If you know of UK-based company Award-Session, it will more than likely be their Sessionette amps or the JD10 Jerry Donahue preamp pedal you're most familiar with. The MB10 Matchbox was part of their early 90s range - from before the JD10 was introduced - and while it is a simple guitar DI-box/preamp at its heart, there is more to it than it first seems.

  • MB10 - Shadows Version
  • Matchbox DI/Direct Recording Preamp
  • G12-Blue Speaker Simulation
  • Vox AC30 (Clean) Guitar Amp Emulation
  • Made in England by Award-Session
  • Original price £89.95/$160

The Matchbox can be used with a wide variety of instruments and input sources thanks to its 'Sensitivity' switch and input gain control. The manual* suggest setting the switch to 'Inst' (instrument level) for use with electric guitars and basses, electro-acoustic guitars, effects pedals and high-Z microphones; and 'Line' (line level) for active guitars and basses, preamp outputs and studio equipment. [NOTE: It should never be attached to a power amp's speaker output.] The input gain control can be used to boost the output level quite considerably - which will help in providing a good signal level to the intended destination (mixing desk, PA, recording interface etc.).

*As with a lot of musical equipment, some rules are merely guidelines and the manual goes on to suggest trying the 'Input Sensitivity' switch in the wrong position - as it will provide a variation on the base tone (you'll need to compensate with the input gain control though)... using a (passive) guitar with the switch set to 'Line' will yield a softer tone - more about that later. [The reason for the change in tone is due to an impedance mis-match.]

The next function is a 'Guitar EQ' switch and treble control; the 'Guitar EQ' is a 3-band passive (amp-style) EQ voiced to produce an emulated amp sound - with fixed, preset bass and midrange settings and an adjustable, front-mounted treble control. [The treble control is only active while the 'Guitar EQ' switch is engaged.]

The final control is a switch to engage the 'Speaker Simulator' - the MB10 is equipped with Award-Session's (Celestion) G12T (12") speaker simulation, which is based upon the speaker simulation from their AW10 Sessionmaster preamp (the predecessor to the JD10).

The model of MB10 I have is a special Shadows Version. This has the same features as a standard MB10 but the 'Guitar EQ' is voiced to emulate the clean sound of a Vox AC30 w/Top Boost - as used by Hank Marvin in the Shadows.

Award-Session say that using the Shadows MB10 with guitar, but set for line level input signals will yield a warmer tone (with reduced upper mids and treble), which will be more reminiscent of the early non-Top Boost AC30s. The difference in sound between the two voicings is most prominent if you're using an overdrive, distortion or fuzz pedal with it; in the 'Instrument' mode you may find things can be a little bright, brittle or aggressive. If that is the case, switching to 'Line' makes a world of difference.

The Matchbox is a very handy device and can perform a number of duties very well; if you are a multi-instrumentalist or home-recordist especially, I think you'd find the MB10 very useful.

It is definitely worth experimenting with the different input selections, and also using it with and without the amp and speaker emulations engaged. Although, for guitar use, I prefer everything turned on and, for clean tones, the MB10 set for instrument signals.

Family Values

There were similarly equipped Matchbox versions for electro-acoustic instruments (the MB11 - with more acoustic-relevant options and voicing) and electric bass (the MB12 - which has a bass amp voicing and 15" speaker simulation).

The MB11 has been superseded by the AP10 Electro-Acoustic Preamp (which was known for a while as the GG10; 'GG' being Gordon Giltrap - a longtime Award-Session user).

It has to be said that, while the Matchbox is feature-laden for a guitar DI box, it is a rather minimalist amp/speaker emulator - especially by modern standards. It is highly recommended to add some extra processing power via other devices; a little splash of reverb adds to the realism, and depending on your playing style, some compression may be welcome too. Some additional EQ-ing may be useful too with certain guitars to tame any boominess - although I haven't had any such problems as yet.

What does it sounds like?

In my opinion, it sounds good; with clean tones especially this does a fine job. Of course, it won't compete with some of the digital amp modellers (e.g. Line 6 POD) in terms of versatility, nor perhaps will it measure up to some of the more recent analogue amp emulators (e.g. Tech 21 Sansamp Character series) in authenticity. And it certainly isn't in the same league as some of the advanced software products (e.g. Native Instruments Guitar Rig) - this is almost 20 year old technology after all.

But, if all you want is a nice clean Vox-like base tone (for recording or playing through a PA) and have various other effects and processors to refine your sound, the MB10 Shadows Version is most definitely up to the task.

Video 1 - A run through of a few settings and then, towards the end I use distortion and overdrive pedals.

Video 2 - A shorter, edited version which has had some additional processing (light compression and reverb).

* * * Notes about the videos * * *

  • Guitar - Epiphone Casino
  • Pedals - Pro Co Rat 2 and Barber LTD Silver
  • Recording set-up - Award MB10 direct to Cubase 5 (via a MOTU audio interface)
  • [Video 1] No additional processing
  • [Video 2] Additional processing in Adobe Audition, using included plugins for light compression and reverb