Audio Effects: Chorus

There are many instrument and vocal effects an audio engineers and artists can use to improve, polish and sweeten the sound of individual tracks or on entire mix audio recordings. One of the most common and widely used audio effects is the trusty old chorus effect. Chorus effects can take a mono signal and slightly warble the pitch at a given frequency on separate channels to create a full and wide stereo effect. This can be useful for creating a spacious effect in a track or a mix and, depending on the parameters that are dialed in, can create spacey sounds from other worlds.

Chances are pretty good that if you listen to just about any kind of music that you have heard this effect. This effect can be used for subtle and transparent changes in transients to huge warbled underwater effects. The parameters are fairly simple and easy to use and they include rate, depth and speed of the effect. The rate control is used to change rate of speed that the frequency is changed at. Slower speeds can create a wide and subtle stereo effect while higher rates of change will create an underwater effect. The depth control will determine the range that the frequency sweeps will be contained in and allow for short ranges that will be subtle depending on the speed control to wide ranges that can create a very spacey sound. The speed control will allow the user to speed up or slow down the depth and rate sweeps to contour the effect and tailor it to the needs of the current project.

Some rack systems that include chorus effects will have mix and level controls as well and may even include individual controls for left and right placement of the effect within the stereo field. This can be useful to create a sound that includes the original dry sound of the source material mixed with the desired effect and widened for the output of the final mix and effects chain. Depending on the application of effects an engineer might choose something as simple as the “stomp box” version of the effect or a full blown studio rack mounted system with every possible configuration parameter available. In most live applications an artist will use the box version or a simplified rack mounted version of this audio effect system.

This simple effect has been around for a long time and is widely used in audio recordings, movie sound effects and in commercials. This effect is also very versatile and can be used on a wide range of instruments and vocal tracks. The best thing about this effect is that it can be used on both clean and distorted signals to create the most pleasing stereo effects to the almost unbearable warble effect when used in wide frequency and speed control settings. While some effects can only be used in certain places in an effects chain the chorus effect can be placed almost anywhere in a chain of effects as long as it is always placed before the last compressor/limiter and it will produce very satisfactory results.