« The Most Beautiful Sounding Tremolo? »Published on 10/18/18 at 05:03
The Vibrophase can produce sounds from subtle to complex, can mimic a pulsating tremolo or phase-type waves, but with its 4-stage phasing technology it produces incredibly beautiful sounds that take a tremolo-phase to new levels, as demonstrated in the YouTube video accompanying this review.
This tremolo-phaser is based on a very costly candle-driven/powered ZVEX invention called the Candela Vibrophase – a four-stage phaser using Super Hard-On phase-shifting stages (as the candle illuminates the photoelectric cells through a rotating painted disc). It’s pretty interesting technology, merging the old with the new and worth checking out if you have not:
The Vibrophase has no actual ‘mix’ or ‘amount’ knob, and so when you want only a small amount of tremolo-phase you need to tweak the High Bias and Low Limit knobs, as placing the amount of either on the low end will keep the Vibrophase tame and only slightly in the mix. When doing so you can produce a very lovely and unique effect with chord playing or to add a hint of depth to lead playing. And if you care to go for something more exaggerated, I don’t think there’s another tremolo pedal on the market that can touch it, with its almost hypnotic three-dimensional swirling.
This pedal is very unique in its sound, and the sounds it produces, that it may seem limited (insofar as to how often you would use it). By that I mean the ‘quality’ is so apparent that it sits best within a particular atmosphere of composition. However, with some tweaking it’s easy to keep the Vibrophase low in the mix for that added dimension and warmth, as opposed to a full tremolo-phase assault. The pedal’s art graphics certainly does it justice, reminding me of a Kaleidoscope (the reason for the demo video’s direction) or a stained glassed window, which supports the ethereal and utterly beautiful sounds produced by this ZVEX creation. The ability to shift from a more common vibrato to a drunken dreamy phase is useful, but being able to adjust the degree of high and low filters to tailor the effect is what really helps to give this pedal added appeal. But having stated as much, the real ‘piece de resistance’ is the Feedback knob, which takes the effect to another level of surrealism and helps separate it from so many other tremolo-phaser pedals on the market. Available from: https://www.rogueguitarshop.com/products/zvex-vibrophase
EASE OF USE:
The Vibrophase has several knobs, but it can be relatively easy to hone in on the correct amount of mix, tone, feedback, etc., with only a few minutes practice. The Speed is straight-forward, in that it controls how fast the sine wave repeats – whether long and slow (Pink Floyd) or rapid (Surf music). The Vibrato-Phase alters the signal from a more traditional tremolo to lopsided warbling (and sounds more ‘sweeping’ as more of the dry signal is phased in). Next are the High Bias and Low Limit knobs. Think of these as how much higher tone vs. lower tone you want in the mix and integrated with one another, and as you adjust one you may need to adjust the other (depending on what you want to hear in the resultant sound). If you keep both around 4-o’clock the signal will barely be audible… certainly audible compared to a dry signal without the Vibrophase, but offering just a hint of the effect. As one or both rotates toward 12-noon you begin getting a much higher effect. Adjusting counter-clockwise past 12-noon reduces the amount of mix/signal again, but in a different way (the demo video will make this clearer). The Feedback knob is the one that adds that extra pizzazz by leaking some of the output signal back in; and around 11-o’clock it becomes more obvious, but at 12-noon and particularly past 1-o’clock it is super obvious (becoming a bit too powerful past 2-o’clock, unless that’s what you want). Without any Feedback you have a fairly basic vibrato/phaser/tremolo type effect, although more enchanting than I’ve heard from other pedals in its genre because of how the high-low play off each other; but with the Feedback the Vibrophase becomes utterly unique.
RELIABILITY & DURABILITY:
The Vibrophase’s all-steel chassis measures in at about 2.25 x 4.25 inches (6.0 x 10.5 cm). The stomp switch is very solid with a quality click when engaged or disengaged. The knobs are heavy plastic, and although somewhat close to the footswitch should not be damaged under normal use. The knobs/pots turn smoothly and feel of good quality, as well. The power input (typical 9V, 2.1 mm) is located in the back, which I tend to prefer for pedal board purposes and keeping the area clean. The input/output both are located along the side and sometimes this location can cause an issue with missteps or abuse, but they are located higher up and about mid-way – far enough from a stomping foot. Vibrophase, like other ZVEX pedals, also is covered by a standard 2-year warranty (if you register on line… otherwise, a 1-year warranty).