Differences between chorus & flanger

Question

What are the differences between the chorus effect and the flanger effect?

Answer

The differences between the chorus and the flanger are not easy to describe in words, yet it becomes so clear when you hear a chorus compared to a flanger. The flanger has a metallic sound and not the chorus. Why is that?

The chorus and the flanger are based on the same principle: a short delay with modulation. The modulation is done with an LFO (Low Frequency Oscillator). The LFO makes small variations of the delay time constant following a sinus curve ~~~, triangle curve v^v^v or square curve.

The oscillation is low, usually between 0.2 Hz and 10 Hz. It means that the cycle of the LFO is 0.2 time/second (10 seconds for a complete cycle) or 10 times/second. The difference in the flanger is that the delay has feedback, so a re-injection of the delay on itself, which the chorus doesn't have. This re-injection gives a metallic sound. That is the first difference. The second difference is the delay time is shorter on a flanger than on a chorus. What is the result?

On a flanger effect, you can easily hear the changing of the phases of the sound, the rotating sound, the cycles of the LFO. The flanger is metallic and "jet" like sound and is often compared to the sound of a jet taking off or flying past. In a chorus, the modulation is gentle, almost inaudible. That gives you a "liquid" effect, soft, the sound is less metallic and more subtle. The chorus is so gentle that it is usable often. The flanger is louder and more pronounced as an effect so it is less usable for a long period. If it is used too long, it becomes a bit tedious.

You can put some modulation in the delay so mix a chorus with a delay. It will be a "chorused delay" or "modulated delay" but the chorus effect will be only on the delayed sound and not on the dry sound. You can find this beautiful effect on the Flashback X4 with the "ANALOG W/MOD" preset or the "MOD" preset on the Flashback delay.

Now that you know the theoretical differences, compare the Corona chorus and the Vortex flanger and you will hear the differences.


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