What Is A Phaser: Let Us  Dioscover

There are many effects in the modulation category. In this series of notes, it is unveiled the mysteries of flanger, phaser, chorus, univibe /leslie, vibrato or tremolo. These effects, used judiciously, can spice up any rhythmic in clear or saturated, or add to your sound for solos, to name a few of their uses.

Phaser or Flanger?

The clarification starts from the difference between Phaser and Flanger because they are often confused. Phasing is created electronically by using a series of filters (all pass) associated with a low frequency oscillator while Flanging uses a very short delay. It is simplified a lot but the important thing is to know that they sound different.

A phaser will appear to be a little more “crazy” and has no real equivalent in reality. For its part, a Flanger looks like a plane taking off and is similar to an effect that can be encountered in nature and called “Doppler Effect”.

There are more information about the Flanger in the second part of this series of notes. If the scientific aspect of the Phaser is of interest to you, go to wikipedia.


Who uses a phaser?

The definition of phaser is usable in any musical genre but we must recognize that it is more particularly inseparable from some.

Used with a clear sound, it is a very used effect in Reggae, listen to the solo of “No Woman no Cry” Bob Marley on his “Lyceum Live” for an edifying example of “phaserized” guitar.

Usage of flanger

A flanger pedal double your input signal and use to play both back mutually slightly out of phase and at a slight delay to produce the signature whooshing sound.

Flanger effects were first achieved by recording a signal onto two separate tape machines at the same time and then manipulating the output of both while recording onto a third machine. The output approaching from the original two tape machines with some minor variations in phase, which is essentially what a phase-shifter pedal simulates.

For a flanger effect, the engineer would touch the rim of one of the tape reels (the flange) in increments, which would slow it down and throw the signal out of sync. This is why a flanger effects sounds so much like a phaser, except with that distinct whooshing, comb-filter effect, which is a result of the manipulation of speed in addition to phase.

flanger effects

Flanger and phaser

Phaser and Flanger are often confused. However, if there is a certain similarity in sound rendering, the concept of the first differs profoundly from that of the second. Indeed, where the Flanger uses a delayed signal to cause a comb filtering, the Phaser uses a system of filters with phase inversion. Result, the signal wave is well altered with “troughs” as for filtering comb, but the difference is that the distribution of these “troughs” does not respect a harmonic series. It is certainly this phaser vs flanger difference that makes the Phaser sound worse in my ear. As a result, people rarely use it.

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