This vintage-inspired phaser is rich, warm, inexpensive, and dead simple.
The earliest DOD phasers inhabit a special place in the stompbox hall of fame. They are among the earliest compact phasers (the 650 Phase Shifter debuted in 1974), and the little company from Salt Lake City restlessly produced new versions and improvements in the following years.
Phase-heads particularly treasure the original Phasor 201 for its simple single-knob design and a warm, two-stage sweep that sounds clear and rich with both clean and dirty tones. Thankfully, the recent resurrection of DOD by Harman International includes a revamped 201 in all its gooey analog glory, along with some modern upgrades.
Just a Phase
The new Phasor 201 reissue boasts a lightweight aluminum enclosure, dressed up in a sparkle blue that looks awesome paired with the pedal’s vintage-video-games graphics. Its 9-volt adapter jack is located on the top edge for easier pedalboard mounting.
The analog circuitry is similar to the original’s, though DOD has added true-bypass switching and a bright blue LED power indicator. Two LF3533N dual op amps replace the single LM348N quad op amp used in the original, though the change seems to have no adverse tonal effects.
The single knob simultaneously controls effect speed and depth. Players accustomed to more complex controls might long for a depth knob, but the beauty of the 201 comes in part from a near-perfect voicing conceived to keep the low-end mud-free.
Next Phase of Tone
With a Fender Stratocaster, a Vox AC30CC2 combo set clean, and the pedal’s speed around 9 o’clock, the phasing sounds present and balanced across the frequency spectrum, though the effect feels slightly stronger in the mids and highs—a good thing when you’re playing in a band. The shape and movement feel natural—more like a texture moving through the open chords I played rather than a whooshing effect on top.
I placed the Phasor 201 in front of a cranked Fulltone OCD for some EVH-influenced riffage. Here too the little blue DOD sounded warm and luscious, integrating smoothly with the overdrive. Most notably, the 201 seemed to roll off some of the overdrive’s highs as the phase reached the top of its ramp, which makes the 201 feel more natural in high-energy, distorted settings. It also does a pretty great rotary speaker emulation when the phase knob is above 3 o’clock. With a little low-gain overdrive, it was a cinch to evoke the swirling, sassy Vibratone sound of SRV’s “Cold Shot.”
DOD has done a knockout job replicating the original Phasor 201’s warmth and clarity. The new version delivers all of the gooey warmth and subtle phasing of the original. While its simplicity may be off-putting to compulsive knob twiddlers, the thoughtfully voiced circuit is remarkably versatile. And at just under a hundred bucks, it’s something of a steal.
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