Boss PH-1R Phaser

A new toy from ebay arrived today, an old analog Boss Phaser. Boss is the guitar effects division of Roland, who released several phaser effects in the 70’s under the Roland name, but then decided to switch them over to the Boss brand when the pedals got smaller and cheaper. The oldest Roland branded ones are now very expensive and collectible, and so far I have successfully resisted purchasing any of them, but early Boss pedals can be bought for a reasonable price (around $100) and contain lovely analog circuitry presumably based on the same Roland designs.

You can read more about phasers on here, but note that when an effect is called a “phaser” that usually refers to the all-pass filter version described there, while the time-delay version they describe is almost always called a “flanger”. The two effects can sound similar on certain settings, but the methods they use to accomplish their effects, and the resulting circuits and devices that implement them, are completely different. Without getting into a technical description of what a phaser does, it imparts a sort of psychedelic, moving, whooshing character on a sound that can give it a sort of 3-D feel in the proper listening environment and/or state of mind. We plan on using a lot of phasers for this project, in most cases very subtly so you can hardly hear the effect, but also sometimes in a very much over the top fashion that will scream phaser.

This particular model (the PH-1R) is distinguished from the first compact pedal version that Boss released (the PH-1) in that it has an extra knob to control resonance, and more control is almost always a good thing. The next version (PH-2) added an extra knob/switch to control the type of phasing, but from reviews the general consensus seems to be that the basic sound of the PH-1R is “better” so I got that one instead. More control is still a good thing, but not if you have to sacrifice the basic sound to get it, especially when you are talking about one effect pedal with a specific purpose. The latest version (PH-3) is a digitally modeled phaser and that one apparently doesn’t sound all that great if you are a fan of the smooth analog sound, which I am. I might buy a PH-2 off ebay and compare it with the PH-1R for myself, but I probably won’t bother since the PH-1R sounds great, and I already have several other phasers.

These audio demos contain five snippets each. First, the unprocessed sound. Then all knobs at 3 o’clock, then all knobs at 6 o’clock, then all knobs at 9 o’clock, then all knobs maxed. These are not the best demos because it basically treats the pedal like it has one knob, going from light to extreme. In reality you would want to find the sweet spot for each of the three knobs so that you could get, for instance, a slow but deep and resonant phase, or a faster but shallow and medium resonant phase, etc. The demos do however let you hear the general character of the effect. All parts are Nord Modular, and also include a light delay effect from the Line 6 Echo Park.

demo #1: PH-1R phaser on a lead part
demo #2: PH-1R phaser on a bass part
demo #3: PH-1R phaser on a noise part
demo #4: PH-1R phaser on a pad-like part