The Empress doubles as both a chorus and vibrato. Both can be subtle, vintage styled effects or over the top shoegazy noise makers. I tend to stick to the subtler stuff but it's nice to have options.
Their are stereo outs which are great, but no stereo ins so you can use it with other stereo gear unless you place it after the Empress. Maybe a turn off for some but it doesn't matter much to me.
The Empress utilizes an all analog signal path and contains the clever 'voice' control, which is the backbone of it's versatility. According to Red Witch, the voice control gives the user the ability to select the delay time. As the differences between most chorus pedals is the delay time, this allows you to simulate others without resorting to digital modeling.
The velocity/depth/mix controls are self explanatory, as are the bright and chorus/vibrato switches.
There is also a switch on the inside to select between two different preamp circuits, one mellower with less gain and one slightly more aggressive with slightly more gain.
Build quality is outstanding to say the least.
Finding your ideal chorus sound is very easy. You simply dial in the voice knob to get the delay time you want and then adjust the mix, depth and velocity knobs to fine tune your tone. The bright knob serves to further tweak your tone.
Set up is incredibly simple. Pick between battery or adapter power supplies and then plug it into your signal path.
The manual is very concise and to the point. It explains the functions of the pedal very quickly and in an easy to read and understand format, something missing in a few other manuals for chorus pedals I've owned.
I only use the Empress with guitar, though I assume it would work fairly well for bass too. I use both humbuckers and single coils with it. I tend to prefer the single coils as the humbucker has a higher output and tends to distort the front end a bit if you're not careful with your pick attack.
The chorus sounds I can get range from a Boss CE-1/2 lushness to an almost TC Stereo Chorus/Flanger sparkle. It seems to do a better job at the lush sounds of the Boss unit though. It doesn't sound 'metallicy' like some other choruses I've played, such as the EHX Small Clone.
It can be very over the top with an almost ring mod type sound with the velocity and voice turned up high.
The voice knob can vary the sound from a sea sick warble to an almost unnoticeable doubling effect. This is the key to the pedal's versatility and is an incredibly powerful tone sculptor.
The voice knob varies the max amount of pitch modulation in the vibrato mode. With the voice and depth knobs turned all the way up, you can get over a semitone of pitch modulation for some really crazy sounds. The classic vibrato tones that come from old tube amps are available as well but they're not as much fun.
It sounds good both before and after distortion, unlike many chorus pedals I've used.
It can get quite hissy with the voice knob turned up a bit though. Lots of background noise that's only made worse if you're using it before distortion or compression.
My favorite thing about it is the versatility. I can dial in a chorus tone for every situation. I wish there were presets but it doesn't matter all that much to me.
My least favorite thing is definitely the hiss. It's really the only fault I could find but it can be a biggy in certain situations. If your signal chain is already noisy, I'd probably avoid the Empress. If you can keep it quiet, I'd pick one up in an instant.
For the $300 new price, I probably wouldn't pick one up. I'd probably spend a bit extra and pick up an Eventide ModFactor for even more versatility. But for the price I got mine for and the prices I usually see them at used, it's a no brainer. Nothing comes close for the price as far as versatility is concerned IMO. If you only need lush chorus sounds, an old MIT Boss CE-2 is a better option.
The sound is consistent every time I use it, though I use it with a heavily regulated power supply. Some days it feels like it has less headroom than others though.
I've owned several other choruses including a Fulltone Choralflange, Boss CE-2, TC SC/Fl etc. None of them can touch the versatility of the Empress.
If I had to make the decision again, I might wait for the new Fulltone CFV-2 but it's likely I'd wind up with the Empress based on my previous experience with the Fulltone unit. The Empress is an all around more versatile and organic sounding unit, even without the flange mod.
Chorus / vibrato with conventional power supply or 9V battery, one input and two outputs (dry and wet)
4 knobs (level, depth, voice, rate) corresponding to the level of the chorus, the depth, the voice apparently equivalent to the chorus type (it rotates and changes shape, a flangerien thing to a pure fufu smallclone chorus type) and the spleen, speed shall we say.
After there is a switch chorus / vibrato and a dark / bright.
Also inside there is a Bitonio to adjust, apparently, the output volume.
In short there is plenty to do.
You can adjust the definition of the chorus with the Voice knob. 7 to 11 am on will be something close to a slight flange, turn right over the type will be more extreme.
I admit that the switch bright / dark does not convince me really as I see little difference.
Knobs just right, the earthquake organic land, you can play with the rate for a chorus seasickness that detune (for my part I love and that's why I took this pedal) . Still playing with the buttons, you can approach a ce3/ce5 boss and even small clone, or the versatility of the chorus.
When choosing the vibrato switch, it goes from discreet radical (like the chorus), but the most obvious and Detune is putting a rate around "midi" with delay and reverb behind it is the foot In any case for me.
For bright / dark, little difference, except for a more muffled sound (strange matter).
In distortion, chorus / vibrato remains present and effective.
It must be stressed some negatives, and it is rather abused for the price of the beast.
IF you put the voicing bottom, there will be enough this breath.
Depending on the settings, you lose the signal, if you have a musical passage with the chorus, and then you remove the volume difference can be significant and rather annoying ...
Pedal rather nice level look, size slightly larger than a boss.
I would not say that, despite the possible settings, it is versatile.
Loss of volume, breath when the voice is full, it can be disabling, especially in this price range, this is even abused.
I thought I had the medium / high range, slamming as a fact, on this point I am disappointed.
There is good positive eh anyway!
Personally, I chose to "detune" sound (as in vibrato chorus) when you put a voicing 2h, a rate at 11am and a depth and level to 3h. With a delay behind reverb is gorgeous.
In itself, the effect is rather ok! The problem is the price, not at all justified, still happy I bought it secondhand, Medusa is still more expensive (and more attractive).
The Pentavocal appears attractive also, but this experience will make me think more before buying one (though I scoured all over the net for 2 months for this effect) effect.
So if you want, look for secondhand, and the chorus are very beautiful, the problem is the possible loss of volume and breath generated if the voice is set beyond 2am.