Phase shifters with expanded control sets aren’t a new concept, but they were rare in the analog days, aside from classics like the esoteric and pricy Lovetone Doppelganger. Tweak-intensive phasers are flourishing in these digital days, however—be they sophisticated software plug-ins like Soundtoys’ PhaseMistress or überphaser stompboxes like Aphazing, a great-sounding and bargain-priced digital pedal from L.A.’s Digital Noize.
Aphazing lives in a large-format folded-steel enclosure (roughly 7"x5"x2"). Inside are two stacked circuit boards populated with modern micro-components and linked by a ribbon connector. Jacks and pots are board-mounted, but the boards are securely affixed to the enclosure, so everything feels perfectly solid. Aphazing runs on a standard 9V power supply (not included). There’s also a sealed battery box.
World of Wooshcraft
Aphazing’s core sounds are terrific: rich, detailed, and convincingly analog-sounding. Both input and output are mono, yet tones feel wide and immersive. Your ear can really get lost in these complex swirls and swooshes.
Aphazing’s other star feature is its wide-ranging control set. For starters, you can select from four phase-stage options. At one extreme, 2-stage phasing provides a straightforward, tape-like sound, while the 12-stage setting is thick and complex. The 4- and 8-stage options split the difference.
Even more remarkable are the four phaser-mode settings. Mode A is what most of us think of as a “regular” phase sound, generated by combining your dry signal with a slightly offset and pitch-modulated wet signal. (Yes, you can definitely get traditional phasing tones in the Phase 90/Small Stone vein, though if that’s the extent of your phasing needs, you should probably opt for a simpler phaser with a less tweaker-oriented sensibility.) Mode B blends the signals subtractively for hollow-sounding tones with greater phase cancellation—a cool option for contexts where standard phasing is a bit too “cakey.” Mode C introduces asymmetric modulation with a “fishhook” twist reminiscent of a Uni-Vibe, while mode D is a thinner-sounding subtractive version of Mode C. Between the stage and mode options, Aphazing provides a jumbo-sized crayon box of modulation colors.
In addition to the usual rate, depth, and feedback/resonance controls, there’s another cool tone shaper: a set of high-pass and low-pass filters that narrow the frequency range of the wet signal, enabling subtler modulation effects. (This was a marquee feature of the Doppelganger.) Trim lows, and only the upper frequencies get phased. Trim highs, and you emphasize low frequency phase sounds. I love how Aphazing lets you dial up extravagant effects and then shape the wet frequency range for subtler results.
A Difficult Phase?
The only thing I don’t dig here is the confusing, near-random layout. The traditional rate/depth/resonance controls aren’t grouped together. The dual filter knobs don’t appear in the same row or column. The controls aren’t visually differentiated, and the labels are written in small type above the knobs, making them hard to read from some angles and distances. Meanwhile, the enclosure’s tangle-of-ovals graphic only adds to the confusion. Yeah, you’ll get used to the layout before long. But the visuals might have aided the user, rather than the opposite
Aphazing sounds awesome on everything from simple ’60s-style phasing to weird, wild wobbles. The multiple modes (including relatively transparent-sounding negative phasing) can help you dial in tones to suit a band arrangement or a mix, as do the high- and low-pass filters. The graphics and control layout could be far more intuitive, but that’s not a deal-breaker. You’ll learn your way around after spending some time with the pedal. And guess what? Priced at $169 when purchased directly from Experimental Noize, Aphazing is one badass bargain.
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