Saturday, December 15, 2012

MODULATIONS PART 2: PHASER AND FLANGER! (with Free Vst Plugins Inside)

Hello and welcome to This week's article!
This time we continue our research for modulation effects focusing on Phaser and Flangers.
The sonic result of these two effects is pretty much similiar, but the phaser is softer, smoother and less extreme, while the flanger is more "Jet-Like".

The Phaser is the first of the two effects to be invented (around the '60), and consists into splitting the signal in 2 identical ones, and into applying to one of them a filter that alters its phase. By summing the two signals; the obtained effect it's a rhythmic phase cancellation that variates according to the settings, thus creating the "oscillating" sound typical of phaser.
The Phaser, unlike the flanger, doesn't work by delaying the second signal and summing it to the first one, therefore the sound is less aggressive.
Additionally, the output can be fed back to the input for a more intense phase shifting, creating a resonant effect by emphasizing frequencies between the wave notches. 
This effect has been use extensively by many bands, especially the psychedelic rock bands of any time, but the most famous guitar player that has used it on its records is probably Jimi Hendrix.

The Flanger effect is produced by summing two identical signals together, with one signal delayed of a small and gradually changing period, up to some centisecond. This produces a phase cancelling effect that variates according to the variating lenght of the delayed signal, producing an effect called "Comb Filtering", named after the visual effect this process does to the waveform.
Variating the time causes the two tracks to sweep up and down the frequency spectrum, and the flanger is the effect dedicated to produce this result.
Part of the output signal is sometimes fed back to the input, producing a resonance (sometimes even inverting the phase of the fed back signal) which further enhances the intensity of the effect.
One of the most famous guitar players that has used this effect on many songs is Edward Van Halen.

Here are the most common controls found on Flangers and Phasers:

Depth: Sets the depth of the flanger and phaser effect, the width of the oscillation. Higher values equals to deeper oscillations.

Resonance: Sets the amount of resonance. Higher values equals to more effect. 

Rate: Sets the cycle speed of the effect: higher values means a faster effect cycle. 

Modulation Phase: With this control the effect can be oriented on the stereo field in different time rates between left and right, in order to give it more ambient. To use this effect live we need a stereophonic amplification.

Today most DAWs already feature some basic Flanger and Phaser Effect, but if you want to try something new and different here's a selection of the best freeware Phaser and Flanger Vst:

Wok Flanger - a stompbox style flanger

Kjaerhus Audio Classic Flanger - simple to use 

Kjaerhus Audio Classic Phaser - simple and essential. 

Smart Electronix SupaPhaser - less simple, but with more presets. 

Blue Cat Audio Blue Cat's Flanger - simple yet effective. 

Smart Electronix MdspFlanger a flanger synchronizable to the tempo with different waveforms

Smart Electronix Phase90, a clone of the Mxr Phase 80 guitar stompbox

EmptySquare NXTPhase, described as "a phaser with an attitude". 

Tal Phaser, a stereo Phaser Effect

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