A lush, lively stereo chorus with tasteful, varied presets and controls that range from the classic to the crazed.
Excellent presets and reactive controls produce a lush variety of lovely classic and crazed sounds. Solid construction.
Pricey. Black divot dial marking are hard to read.
VS Alchemy MkIII
Love it or hate it, the chorus pedal became an important part of rock’s soundscape in the ’80s. Happily, there’s a lot to love about VS Audio’s new Alchemy MkII, an analog stereo chorus with a half-dozen useful presets and a 4-dial setup that opens up plenty of modulation-shaping range.
With graphics that conjure a medium with her hands surrounding a crystal ball (which doubles as the bypass LED), the updated Alchemy pedal is handsome and sturdy. It’s got two smooth switches. The leftmost, labeled bypass, is on/off; the rightmost activates and shuttles between the device’s six presets and works as a tap tempo for the low frequency oscillator (LFO) that governs the pedal’s sweep. Tap tempo is a new feature in the MkII, along with smoother and more natural sounding modulation and an expanded delay range. Also, VS says the effect’s output is brighter, smoother, and warmer than in the first iteration. The input and stereo outs are solid, and a barrel adaptor feeds the Alchemy 9-volt power. Under the hood, there’s a tidy circuit board with a reissue 3207 BBD delay chip that helps produce everything from warm modulation to queasy detuned noise. Together it’s a rugged, appealing package.
The Alchemy MkII comes with six factory presets that sound so good and varied that players who aren’t interested in exploring outer reaches might be satisfied with them alone. By holding the bypass and preset switches down simultaneously, it’s also easy to edit those presets.
Six factory presets sound so good and varied that players who aren’t interested in exploring outer reaches might be satisfied with them alone.
I explored the Alchemy MkII with a two-amp setup featuring a Carr Vincent and Carr Telstar so I could enjoy the stereo spectrum. And exploring the presets in this configuration was a joy. The box’s lower LED changes color according to preset. Here’s what I heard for each color-coded setting. I also describe some of the virtual knob settings as they are described in the manual:
- Blue: Subtle speed with medium depth and zero delay, and an even split between the effect and guitar tone. Great for funky, crisp chords and licks, à la Jimmy Nolen and Al McKay.
- Green: Still subtle and funky, but with more depth and less speed.
- Red: Full-on speed with depth past the midpoint, zero delay, and the mix at 3 o’clock. It seems to thin the midrange when I play chords. But single notes take on a cool oscillating effect between amps and adding an overdrive generates compelling lead tones.
- Yellow: Entering Leslie territory, with fast oscillations just shy of SRV’s Vibratone sounds. The delay is cranked, the speed and mix are at about 3 o’clock, and the depth is off.
- White: Full-on Leslie-style tones. Lush with vibrato. My favorite. The mix is up all the way, delay half-way, speed at 3 o’clock, and depth at 1 o’clock. Playing chords and bending notes is a blast. Gorgeous oscillations!
In live mode, sans presets, the chorus options feel pretty endless. I explored a few go-to settings, like setting speed and depth at 3 o’clock for Nirvana or “Enter Sandman” tones, and slowly increasing the delay until it produced a sick, detuned quality. Elsewhere, with the speed at 11 o’clock, depth at noonish, and delay at 9 to 11 o’clock, I could approximate 12-string sounds.
At 300 bucks the Alchemy Mk II is pricey. But it is a well-built, rangeful stereo chorus with varied and thoughtful preset options that might be enough for many players. Controllability on the fly can be tricky. Dial positions are indicated by divots, rather than a contrasting white line, so it’s hard to see them in low light. Apart from that design oversight, the Alchemy is feast of rich, analog modulation sounds.
Which one do you prefer?
Rhett and Zach unpack the big news for secondhand guitar sellers and buyers: Sweetwater has launched their new Gear Exchange. How does it compare to Reverb, Craigslist, and Marketplace? To find out, Zach takes the site for a spin and buys a pedal. He calls the process both “very easy” and “normal.” They discuss the pros and cons of the various used-gear outlets and share tips for not getting got when buying gear. Plus, Zach grew a mustache, Mythos Pedals is moving, and he talks about his forthcoming line of Strat pickups inspired by Hendrix’s reverse-stagger setup.
Sweetwater vs. Reverb
Get 10% off from StewMac when you visit stewmac.com/dippedintone
The Royale was designed to deliver loud and vivid clean tone with a responsive, tactile low end.
Designed to offer massive headroom, the 50-watt Royale Head lets you indulge in smooth clean tones at even higher volumes on stage without any breakup. Select between class A and class AB modes, with its variable mode switch, so you can choose between gushing Supro tone or a punchier, tight midrange response.
Introducing the Royale Head & Extension Cabinet | Supro
The Royale 1x12 Extension Cabinet features the custom Supro BD12 high-power driver, offering the same mid-range punch and clean articulation as the Royale combo but with additional stage volume. More info: suprousa.com.
Royale Head | $1,499.99
Royale Cab | $669.99
D'Addario Foundation's education project sets out to help schools throughout the country and kicks off with an online auction.
The D’Addario Foundation will host a virtual auction from November 9 to November 30, 2022, with the overarching goal of raising $30,000 for the D'Addario Foundation’s Immersive Music Challenge.
Inspired by a new study published in the Journal of Youth Development, the D'Addario Foundation recently launched the Immersive Music Challenge. This ambitious project will help school districts and charter systems throughout the country boost academic achievement by implementing effective, multi-day-per-week music-based mentoring programs that include training, administration, and evaluation. The D’Addario Foundation has invested in an incredible team of consultants that include school superintendents, public health experts, and data analysts to ensure sound results. In addition, D’Addario is actively seeking corporate partners to support the establishment of these programs and champion their success.
Thanks to the generosity of D'Addario artists and industry partners including Gibson, PRS Guitars, D'Angelico, Taylor Guitars, and more, one-of-a-kind items & experiences are up for bidding. Some of the items include:
- Evans Drumhead signed by Anderson Paak
- ESP Mirage Deluxe '87 Signed by Bruce Kulick of KISS and Grand Funk Railroad
- Gibson Les Paul Custom electric guitar
- D'Addario bass string set signed by Bryan Beller of the Aristocrats
- PRS S2 McCarty 594 Singlecut
- Virtual Lesson with Marty Schwartz
To celebrate its 20th anniversary, Xotic Effects unveils an updated version of their classic boost pedal.
Xotic’s RC Booster pedal is back to celebrate its 20th anniversary. The RC Booster’s original design was a customer favorite due to its versatile clean boost, active treble, bass, gain and volume controls. This classic reissue will join their regular pedal lineup permanently.
• Transparent boost pedal for electric guitar
• Up to 20dB of boost for adding volume or sending your amp into overdrive
• Treble and bass EQ controls with +/-15dB range for fine-tuning your sound
• True bypass switching removes the effect from your signal path when disengaged
• Powered via 9-volt battery or optional AC adapter (sold separately)
• 9-18 volts
The first 1000 pedals will contain a special limited edition packaging with special items and actual guitar picks from Andy Timmons, Paul Jackson Jr, Dean Brown, Kirk Fletcher, Allen Hinds, Chris Duarte, Scott Henderson, Oz Noy, Michael Thompson, Yuya Komoguchi, Toshi Yanagi.
RC Booster with limited edition packaging street price is $172.00. More info: xotic.us.