Ampeg Liquifier Analog Chorus
By Phil O'Keefe |
Ampeg Liquifier Analog Chorus
Bassists: Don't let your guitar and keyboard-playing friends try it…
by Phil O'Keefe
Ampeg has recently expanded its effects pedal offerings with a couple of new stomp boxes that are designed to appeal as much to the guitarist (or keyboardist) in the band as they are to the bassists of the world. We've already had a look at the cool sounding Ampeg Opto Comp compressor and as promised, we're following up with a look at the new Ampeg Liquifier Analog Chorus. Does it work as well as advertised on a variety of instruments? Let's check it out.
What You Need To Know
- Ampeg's Liquifier Analog Chorus isn't just for bass - Ampeg says it's equally effective with other instruments too, such as guitar and keyboards. With that in mind, I tested it with bass, guitar and synths in the course of this review.
- The Liquifier is housed in a die cast metal enclosure that measures 2.2" H x 2.6" W x 4.5" L and it weighs in at 0.6 lb.
- The pedal is painted in a cool looking high gloss purple metallic, and the labels are all white, which makes them easy to see. The Ampeg logo is raised, which is a nice visual detail.
- The input and output jacks are side mounted. Input impedance is 1M ohm, and the output impedance is 200 ohm. Maximum gain is listed in the manual as unity, and there's no significant drop in level when the pedal is active.
- There are three main controls on the Ampeg Liquifier Analog Chorus pedal. All three of the controls have black mini-sized chicken head style knobs with white pointers.
- The Rate knob controls the speed of the Liquifier's low frequency oscillator (LFO) and provides a wide range of speeds, although it can be a bit tricky dialing it in at the faster rates in the last 20% or so of the knob's travel.
- The Depth control determines the amplitude, intensity or depth of the pitch modulation of the chorus effect.
- The Effects Level control is a mix knob that controls the balance of the wet and dry signals, with the sound being 100% dry (with no audible effect) when fully counter-clockwise, and 100% wet when turned up all the way.
- So far, you might be thinking that this sounds like the fairly typical three-knob analog chorus pedal, but take a look at that block diagram. What makes this chorus different is the dual analog BBD (bucket brigade device) signal paths. This is different than the typical chorus that only has one delay path.
- The Rate and Depth controls for the LFO work on both BBDs simultaneously, but the signal feeding one is inverted relative to the other so that they sweep in opposite directions, and then the two are summed back together, giving you "through zero" type phase cancellation as the two lines sweep across the null point.
- Power can be provided with either a 9V battery or a external power adapter - neither is included, so be prepared to provide your own power. The battery is accessed by removing four screws and the pedal's bottom plate. Power is disconnected when you unplug the input jack, so remember to do that to conserve battery power.
- There are user-adjustable internal trim pots, switches or jumpers inside.
- The power jack is located at the top of the pedal, and uses the industry standard 2.1 mm center-negative format.
- Switching is true bypass.
- There are two LEDs located directly above the footswitch. The one on the left is purple, and serves as a on/off indicator for the pedal, lighting up whenever the pedal is active. The second LED is green, and it's tied to the Rate control, flashing on and off faster or slower, depending on how high it is set.
- The LED that shows you the LFO rate is only active when the effect itself is turned on - it would be nice if it showed you the LFO speed at all times so that you could set the approximate speed you wanted based on the LED's visual cue, even when the pedal is bypassed.
- There's no stereo or dry output either, which is unfortunate - I'd really like to hear those dual BBD paths running in stereo.
- The speed really increases dramatically in the top 15% or so of the Rate control's range, making fine tuning of the pedal's fastest settings touchy and tricky. Still, it's worth exploring some of the unusual and non-typical sounds that can be achieved with very fast Rate settings.
Ampeg says that the dual choruses "give you a richer, deeper, warmer chorus effect", and it's really hard to argue with that. The Liquifier Analog Chorus is certainly capable of achieving your usual chorus sounds, but it can also make sounds that most traditional choruses can not create, including super-fast wobbles and true "through zero" phase cancellation - something that is typically associated with flangers and not chorus pedals. In fact, I am unaware of any other chorus that features that capability.
Some of the sounds I got from the Liquifier reminded me of the old Ibanez BC9 Bi-Mode Chorus from the 1980s. While the Liquifier doesn't have its dual speed and width controls or the dual oscillators of the BC9, it does have a similar lushness to the chorus effect, and you can get some pretty uncharacteristic non-chorus type sounds at the more extreme points on the controls. I do wish that the rate LED stayed illuminated at all times, but that's not going to be a deal-breaker for a lot of people. I also wish it had a bit more linear Rate control and that it didn't put so much of the range into the final 20% of the control, and I also wish it had a stereo output, but again, since most players use mono rigs, this isn't going to bother most people either.
All in all Ampeg has come up with a very interesting and cool sounding chorus with the new Liquifier. Whether I was using it with bass or guitar, or running a synth through it, it worked equally well and never failed to put a smile on my face. It's very reasonably priced too, and not just a clone of what everyone else has done. It's a sweet sounding chorus pedal that goes beyond the ordinary, and bassists are going to like it a lot. Just don't let the guitarist or keyboardist in your band try it out for a while - you might not ever get it back. -HC-
Want to discuss the Ampeg Liquifier Analog Chorus or have questions or comments about this review? Then head over to this thread in the Effects forum right here on Harmony Central and join the discussion!
Ampeg Liquifier Analog Chorus pedal ($139.99 MSRP, $99.99 "street")
Ampeg's product web page
Ampeg Liquifier Analog Chorus owner's manual (PDF file)
You can purchase the Ampeg Liquifier Analog Chorus from:
Phil O'Keefe is a multi-instrumentalist, recording engineer / producer and the Senior Editor of Harmony Central. He has engineered, produced and performed on countless recording sessions in a diverse range of styles, with artists such as Alien Ant Farm, Jules Day, Voodoo Glow Skulls, John McGill, Michael Knott and Alexa's Wish. He is a former featured monthly columnist for EQ magazine, and his articles and product reviews have also appeared in Keyboard, Electronic Musician and Guitar Player magazines.