There are effects pedals that are hard to describe with words. They are so much more than mere devices – they can quickly turn into the stompboxes that change your life. This might seem a bit queer, but once you read this article till the end, you will figure out what I am talking about. Empress Effects has been around for a while now and their products have always stunned a musician or two. The quality is always out of this world, and the feature set is nothing like you have seen before. Their Phaser is so versatile that we can easily call it the best phaser pedal out there. It is a bit pricey if you look at the numbers only, but when you scrutinize all the properties, you understand that it is actually well worth the money. This beast sets such a high bar that hardly any competitor will be able to beat it. You might be wondering why it deserves such an appraisal and that is rather natural. Do not be impatient, though, all your questions will be answered soon enough. I will stop torturing you now with my blubber and start breaking down all the features, controls and sounds of this one. Without further ado, let’s get started!
When I said that Empress Effects Phaser was more than just a pedal, I meant it. It offers so much that we probably will not be able to cover anything in this article. Plus, you have to play with it for a while to unveil its full potential and experience full scope of its properties. But for now, let’s touch up on all the basics. This fella has outstanding sound quality, which will submerge you in the illusion that you are performing in a studio. It offers countless modes that you can employ anytime: with a switch of a toggle you can shift between Knob, Auto (offers 8 modes itself) and Tap modes. Each of them delivers different results that are explained in great detail in manual (which you will need a lot to understand this pedal). Empress Effects Phaser has modifiable stages – 2, 4 and less common 3. This means that you can change the character of your phaser completely. You do also have the ability to choose between 8 waveforms: phase through sine, triangle, asymmetric sine, swung sine, sawtooth, reverse sawtooth, square and step. The information about auto submodes and waveforms can be found on the side of the pedal itself, making it possible to scroll through them without grabbing the manual. It is worth mentioning that this baby has true bypass circuitry that will transfer your sound without any coloration. Speaking of the circuitry, this one has an all-analog signal path paired with a microprocessor. This means that you still receive that admired analog character but with numerous options to work with. Empress Effects Phaser has internal trim pots that enhance your tweaking possibilities even more. One of the most prominent features of this pedal is definitely its connections: you can plug in expression pedal, external tap switch, control voltage, external audio input and MIDI controller in the same jack. There are complementary internal switches that tailor the pedal to chosen configuration.
The control panel is definitely overcrowded. At first glance, you see all those encoders, toggles and footswitches and you start thinking: “What the hell am I supposed to do with these?” Below you will see a detailed description of each knob. Just keep in mind that these are in Knob and Tap modes, since Auto has its own configuration.
- Mode – enables you to select Knob, Tap or Auto mode;
- Speed Range – lets you choose between Slow, Medium and Fast rates and changes the range of the Speed/Ratio knob;
- Stages – allows you to choose the amount of stages i.e. poles;
- Resonance – has three parameters: Little, None, Lots and makes it possible to select the amount of feedback;
- Expression – also has three settings: Speed, None, Width, and manages which encoders can be controlled with expression pedal;
- Blend – mixes together dry and wet signals;
- Speed/Ratio – in Knob mode, it selects the speed of the effect, while in Tap mode, it enables you to tap into the desired tempo and choose the complementary ratio;
- Width – changes the length of the phasing from center position;
- Waveform – lets you choose between 8 different waveforms;
- Gain – enables you to select desired output gain/volume;
- Tap Footswitch – lets you tap the desired tempo;
- Bypass Footswitch – activates the pedal.
It is not hard to assume just how versatile the sound of Empress Effects Phaser is. The features discussed above mean that we are dealing with an interminable scope of sonic possibilities. It will not be an exaggeration to say that this pedal can create each and every shade and flavor of phase shifting, ranging from mild dips to extreme variations. Messing around with speed will let you explore different rates that can completely alter the character of the effect. One of the most unique features of this one, Auto mode, enables you to modify the effect by changing the attack on your instrument. Depending on how heavy your playing is, you will receive different results. This mode does also have countless submodes that envelop you in classic, mind-blowing or ethereal phasing. There is nothing you cannot modify with this pedal, which is amazing if you are picky about your sound. No matter which settings you choose, you will find something extremely interesting and usable. Empress Effects Phaser is simply a phenomenal device that gives you so much to work with that you will never get bored.
All in all, Empress Effects Phaser is something spectacular, ethereal and jaw-dropping. I do not know what else to say, since my words will not even come close to the excitement of actual performance. This is a sort of pedal that calls you whenever you are not using it and just forces you to phase up every single musical piece. Plug it in, scrutinize its features and controls and let this effect surround you with its crazy, yet wonderful character. Good luck!
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