The Atlantic Chorus is another in the line of great sounding vintage pedals by Carl Martin. And although considered a chorus pedal, it morphs from Chorus into Vibrato. At 12-noon the Rate knob produces a combination of Chorus/Vibrato. As you turn the knob counter-clockwise you hear a more traditional Chorus and as you turn the knob clockwise it sounds more Vibrato. Regardless of choosing a Chorus or Vibrato (or a mix of the two) the pedal automatically adds warmth to the tone, although more so within the Vibrato zone. This may mean adjusting your EQ slightly and depending on the ‘color’ of your pickups and the desired tone. In a very small dose (with Depth low) both Chorus and Vibrato can add a very pleasant and tasteful dimension to an overdriven lead tone – you know the sound is fuller, but the effect is not overly obvious. But even when pushing an overdriven sound with a lot of Chorus, the effect remains true in the mix and without weakening. As with clean tones, the warm swirling effect of the Atlantic Chorus encourages a guitarist to increase the mix and completely enjoy an exceptionally full sound. What is very notable about the Atlantic Chorus is that it has a very organic aura to it… warm and almost dream-like, and more subtle than modern-based chorus or vibrato pedals. This makes it easy to achieve a more vintage sound, but also a chorus/vibrato that maintains a highly natural presence. Another bonus is the Level knob, which adds quite a bit of boost to the signal, unlike other chorus/vibrato pedals I have tried, and so you need to be careful with that function.
OVERALL IMPRESSION: Carl Martin has once again demonstrated that the company and its tech engineers can produce solid and well-intentioned gear. Certainly there are digital chorus and vibrato pedals that offer more options, but this all-analog pedal stands proud in what it offers. If you’re looking for a basic design with chorus/vibrato that ranges from almost inaudible to very noticeable, and yet have characteristics that sound so natural that it becomes part of the tone (rather than producing an effect), then the Atlantic Chorus is a solid buy at approximately $150 Canadian. The Atlantic Chorus will warm your tone, and so there may need to be some EQ adjustment, although I suspect it would sound fabulous on a Fender or Vox clean channel. Not only is there a very healthy boost with the Level control and, of course, you can alter the Speed and Depth of the effect, but the Rate knob allows you to select all Chorus, all Vibrato, or you can bleed one into the other for various levels/combinations.
GENERAL USE: The Level control produces quite a boost in the signal; consequently, make certain that it is turned completely down or perhaps at 9-o’clock – then adjust as required. The Depth controls how much of the effect is mixed into the signal – keeping it around 9-o’clock produces a subtle effect, which adds nicely to lead solos or if you want some shimmer in your clean tones. The Speed knob controls how rapid a pulse you get, with either the Chorus or Vibrato, from an eerie Pink Floyd effect to a fast Surf Rock. The Rate controls how much Chorus and or Vibrato you get, which makes the Atlantic Chorus rather unique. At 12-noon you get a mix of both effects, but as you turn the knob counter-clockwise to about 10-o’clock, there is an obvious dominance of Chorus with some vibrato, whereas turning it even more to about 9-o’clock produces primarily a Chorus quality. Conversely, once you get to 2-o’clock and beyond when turned clockwise, the sound is more obvious vibrato and even warmer to the ears.
OTHER DETAILS: The Atlantic Chorus consists of a two-tone die-cast chassis and measures 115 x 60 mm (about 4.50 x 2.4 inches). The off-white vintage-looking plastic knobs are of heavy construction and the pots are very solid and firm when turned (not stiff, but they will stay in place even if tapped slightly and accidentally). The bypass switching produces a solid click when turned on/off and there doesn’t appear to be any ‘noise’ when doing so… you do not hear a ‘click.’ The footswitch is a good distance from the knobs and the on/off LED is toward the back and between the upper two knobs. All inputs, including power, connect to the back of the unit, which is an ideal space saver on pedal boards. The Atlantic Chorus does not run on batteries and requires a standard 9VDC power supply (drawing 40mA minimum).