Carl Martin Atlantic Chorus
By Phil O'Keefe |
Does the world really need another chorus pedal?
Hailing from the other side of the pond, Danish effects titan Carl Martin certainly knows how to make a great chorus pedal - their Chorus XII has long been a favorite of pro guitarists, and their Classic Chorus was well-liked too. And now they're released a new chorus pedal - the Carl Martin Atlantic Chorus. But as they themselves ask, does the world really need yet another chorus pedal? And that is indeed a very good question. After all, there are lots of them on the market to choose from. So why has Carl Martin decided to release yet another one? Does it bring anything new or interesting to the variety of choices that we already have available, and more importantly, is it a pedal that might be a good choice for meeting your own chorus needs? Let's dive in and find out.
What You Need To Know
- The Carl Martin Atlantic Chorus is a very stylish looking pedal, with a two-tone ocean blue and black color scheme. The graphics and control labels are done in high contrast white, making them easy to read, even in fairly low-light situations.
- The graphics extend to both sides of the pedal too; both of which prominently feature the Carl Martin logo.
- The Atlantic Chorus is a pretty small and compact unit, measuring only 4.52" L x 2.36" W x 1.97" H. It weighs in at 340g, or about .75 pound.
- The 1/4" input and output jacks on the Atlantic Chorus are located at the top of the pedal. Input impedance is 1M Ohm, and the output impedance is 100 Ohm.
- The 2.1mm center-negative 9V power jack is also located at the top of the pedal. The Atlantic Chorus draws 20mA maximum, and requires a regulated DC power supply with at least 40mA of current at 9V. As the one page "manual" for the pedal points out, an AC adapter (as opposed to DC) will probably kill the pedal, so make sure you carefully check and stick with the manufacturer's recommendations for powering the Atlantic Chorus.
- Having all of the jacks located at the top means that the Atlantic Chorus is not going to take up a lot of space on your pedalboard; you can place it very close to the pedals to either side of it.
- There are a total of four knobs; right off the bat, that makes the Carl Martin Atlantic Chorus different than the typical two-knob chorus pedal with the typical speed and depth controls.
- As you might expect, the Speed knob controls the rate of the pedal's modulation. You get a pretty good range here, from reasonably slow to fairly fast.
- Depth adjusts the overall amount of the chorus effect that you'll hear.
- Unlike many chorus pedals,the Carl Martin Atlantic Chorus features a Level control, which does exactly what you're thinking - it lets you adjust the overall output level of the pedal whenever it is active, and there's actually enough gain available to give you a pretty decent volume boost if you want it. Unity gain is somewhere around the 9 o'clock position on the knob, so start with it set low and adjust it to taste from there.
- The fourth knob is labeled Rate, and it's the one that I suspect is going to confuse some people - at least initially; after all, there's also a Speed control, so what exactly does the Rate knob do? According to Carl Martin, it blends in Vibrato for a deeper chorus effect.
- Since a chorus works by taking a copy of the input signal, delaying it slightly, then modulating the pitch of the delayed signal (creating pitch vibrato) and blending it back in along with the unmodulated (dry) signal, you might be wondering exactly what the extra knob really does. And it's a fair question.
- Personally, I think that the Rate knob might have been better labeled as a Blend, Mix or even as a "More" control. With it turned down all the way, you can still use the Speed and Depth knobs just as you would with any two-knob chorus pedal and get a very satisfying chorus tone. Adding in some Rate gives you an even more apparent pitch modulation, making the sound progressively more vibrato-like the higher you turn up the knob; once the Rate and Depth knobs are at maximum, the Atlantic Chorus is well into pitch vibrato territory, so essentially you're getting two types of effects - chorus and vibrato - for the price of one.
- The switching on the Carl Martin Atlantic Chorus is true bypass, and a blue LED located between the Speed and Depth knobs illuminates to indicate when the effect is active.
- The Atlantic Chorus is made in China and is warranted for one year to the original purchaser, with the usual caveats regarding misuse, neglect and unauthorized modification.
- Powering the Carl Martin Atlantic Chorus with a battery is not an option - it's AC powered only, and you'll need to provide your own 9V DC adapter since one is not included with the pedal.
- Unfortunately, there are no stereo outputs - this is a mono-only pedal.
- The Rate and Speed controls are going to initially cause some confusion for some users.
The answer to the question posed at the start of this review is certainly a matter of opinion; if you already have a chorus pedal that you really like (such as Carl Martin's own Chorus XII), then you probably don't really care that there's a new option available on the market. But for those who don't already have a good chorus, this is certainly a pedal that is worth considering and checking out for yourself. It won't take up a bunch of space on your pedalboard, and it's certainly an attractive looking pedal with its distinctive looking two-tone anodized metal body. The sound is warm and spacious, and the Level control lets you put the chorus right where you want it in the mix without suffering from level drop when you kick it on like some other chorus pedals do. Even the Rate control is quite useful and will help you get the depth of pitch modulation and the balance between traditional chorus and pitch vibrato that you're after - once you get past any initial confusion about what it actually does. Carl Martin has once again delivered a very good sounding chorus pedal, and one that will certainly find its own place in both the market and in the hearts of many guitarists. -HC-
Want to discuss the Carl Martin Atlantic 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!
Carl Martin Atlantic Chorus ($149.95 "street")
Carl Martin's product web page
You can purchase the Carl Martin Atlantic 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.