What’s my favorite analog chorus?
For me this is an easy one. It’s the MAXON CS-9 Pro Stereo Chorus. This also happens to be the very first guitar pedal I ever bought, about 20 years ago.
There is also an Ibanez CS-9 version of this pedal. Both of these are are updated versions of vintage 80’s CS-9s.
There are a number of things I really like about my MAXON CS-9 Pro which makes it my favorite analog chorus pedal. First of all, many analog chorus pedals, specially vintage ones, are mono. The CS-9Pro, being mono in, stereo out, makes it an excellent start to your stereo wet effects chain.
For one, it’s stereo
However, even if you don’t care about stereo, the mono sound of the MAXON CS-9 Pro and its useful range is just stellar. It can go from just a colorful 80s chorus sound all the way to absolute seasickness. I normally run mine on the mellower side.
I don’t say this is my favorite just because it’s the one I have. At this point, having owned it for 20 years, I’ve had a chance to compare it to many other chorus pedals both analog and digital. It has actually become my benchmark to compare to other chorus pedals, even if they are digital. I use the MAXON CS-9 Pro next to others, in order to audition them.
For example, I created a chorus patch on my Empress ZOIA, and the MAXON CS-9 Pro was what I used to edit the patch until I was happy. Editing a chorus preset on my Eventide H9, again, the CS-9 Pro is what I used to edit that preset until I could get it as close as possible.
Compared to other analog chorus pedals
I’ve also been able to compare it to some of the BOSS Choruses like the BOSS CH-1. The BOSS is a close contender by the way. I’m still looking for a chance to compare it to the BOSS CE-2W Waza Craft though. One big plus over BOSS is that the MAXON CS-9 Pro is true-bypass. They aren’t super clear about on the pedal itself, but here’s a screenshot from the Maxon website where they show it in the specs.
Recently I acquired a Chase Bliss Warped Vinyl HiFi Chorus Vibrato pedal. This one is fantastic, and it’s analog. In many ways I like it more than the MAXON, but that has more due to the features and functionality and not necessarily the sound. The CB Warped Vinyl HiFi can do more in the sound department as well. It would be my choice if I’m looking for straight up vibrato sounds of course. More importantly, since I rely heavily on MIDI lately, the Chase Bliss Warped Vinyl has full MIDI functionality where the classic analog choruses don’t. And unlike the ZOIA patches, or Eventide H9 or H90 algorithms, having MDI control on a pedal with an analog signal path is pretty amazing.
Rich chorus and simplicity
That all said, when it comes down to simplicity and a pure analog chorus, the MAXON CS-9 Pro simply can’t be beat, in my humble opinion. Anytime I acquire a new pedal or I’m working on some sort of digital chorus patch, I reach into my collection and grab the trusty CS-9 Pro to make sure I’m close.