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In LFO mode everything from ‘70s swirl to ‘vibe whirl is available, in addition to a passable slow Leslie sound. In envelope follower mode, I was able to get some nice vowel-ly sounds once the input gain was set properly. Envelope follower effects have always fallen flat for me in the past, due in no small part to them conjuring up images of jam bands twenty minutes past the interesting part of the third guitar solo; however, the Stereo Polyphase does its own thing quite nicely, thank you. I was able to oww oww myself into a virtual coma without once imagining dubious-smelling vegetarians whirling around me. Although the Stereo Polyphase sounded nice in stereo, it wasn’t quite as spiritual as the Pulsar plugged into two amps.
The Clone Theory
Finally, I plugged in the Clone Theory (MSRP $158.00). The arrival of this pedal coincided with my search for a nice, fat chorus pedal that was fast enough for a convincing Leslie sound. I popped the pedal out of the box, plugged it in, then moved the Mode knob to CHR 1, which sets the Clone Theory up like a Small Stone, with only Rate being active and Depth being set automatically. I moved the Rate knob to a fast setting, and boom, there it was. It was so obvious that my wife came flying into the room, exclaiming, “That’s it! That’s the sound you’ve been looking for, isn’t it?” She was correct in her assumption.
Further adjustments of the Rate knob offered up pretty much every ‘80s chorus sound one could hope for, from Nirvana to the Pretenders. Moving the Mode knob to CHR 2 allowed the Depth control to come into play. Cool seasick warbles and Japanese toy robot sounds live here. VIBR is vibrato mode, and while sounding best when used in stereo, wasn’t my favorite. And you know what? All the sounds – great, good, and marginal – were noisy. Really noisy.
The Final Mojo
Electro-Harmonix has done a fantastic job with the XO series, and has certainly taken care of any sturdiness issues. The Stereo Polyphase is a great pedal, and the Stereo Pulsar is amazing. It is definitely the star of this show, but I would have no qualms recommending either. The Clone Theory has some amazing sounds bottled up inside, but I would like to see the noise issue dealt with before I give it an enthusiastic thumbs up.
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