There are distinct tendencies in Supro’s design philosophy. Certainly, they are a style-conscious bunch. Everything in the Supro line looks ace. But you also get the feeling that Supro stuff is designed and built by players—particularly those on the performing and recording side of the equation. And whether a Supro product is absurdly simple, like their 1-knob ’64 Super amp, or more option-rich like the Supro Chorus reviewed here, they’re equally terrific at facilitating a direct path to a great sound and adventurous routes to unexpected ones.
The analog bucket brigade-driven Supro Chorus adroitly walks the border between those two places. Inspired in no small measure by the rack-mounted Roland Dimension D stereo chorus, it brims over with high-fidelity, vintage-y modulation tones. But the dual-chorus circuit and stereo options enable weirder variations on those core sounds too, making the Supro a potent ally in the studio.
Wide Horizons, Deep Seas
A casual perusal of the Chorus’ manual and marketing materials makes it clear that Supro are keen for folks to experience this pedal in stereo. They’re right to encourage this pursuit. The Chorus sounds mind-bendingly submarine in stereo, and it’s a kick to lay flat on your back, stick your head between two little tube combos, close your eyes, strum a few chords, and go swimming. But folks that don’t have multiple amps or DAWs with emulations that enable stereo effects shouldn’t feel left out. The Chorus has many mesmerizing tones to explore in mono.
The speed knob has great range. At its slowest settings with moderate depth levels, it has a sweet slow rotary flavor. At the fastest and deepest settings, it takes on the personality of a chatty, twitchy ‘droid. Thankfully (in some cases, surprisingly) this sound is a perfect foundation for psychedelic lead lines and slashing Paul Weller and Who ’66 chords. But roll back the depth on the Chorus, and the tone on your guitar, and the fast-yapping robot takes on the air of a basement jazzer kickin’ it against a Leslie. Just a few very simple and fast adjustments enable travel between those ranges. And exploring the regions between is intuitive and painless. The depth knob isn’t the deepest of all time, but it does make room for the extra intensity you can add via the delay knob, which shifts resonant peaks and adds swirling depth.
While guitar tone attenuation won’t replace the low-mid content that’s less prominent in the Supro’s basic voice, the time knob can give the illusion of thicker low-mid by adding extra-chewy tape-like elasticity to the output.
The base tonality of the Supro is slightly toppy for an analog chorus. In isolation, it can sound a little bold and bright—especially if you compare it to an older, darker bucket-brigade chorus. In a mix with other musical elements, however, the Chorus sounds extra lively. What’s more, there’s wiggle room for accommodating the darker tones of PAF-stye pickups, hollowbodies, or other effects. There are more syrupy analog choruses out there—in the sense that they sound a little thicker in the bass frequencies. And the Supro’s tone profile may be too toppy for some players that primarily use Fender-style single-coils—especially Strats. But I loved the strong, at times almost immodest, ’80s tonalities that single-coils and the Supro Chorus impart to simple or complex signal chains. And while guitar tone attenuation won’t replace the low-mid content that’s less prominent in the Supro’s basic voice, the time knob can give the illusion of thicker low-mid by adding extra-chewy tape-like elasticity to the output.
All of these qualities are an extra treat in stereo. The sense of extra space—or disorientation, depending on the setting—is perceptible. And it’s easy to be tantalized about the possibilities of using a two-amp set up in the studio (or live, if you have a very cooperative sound engineer). The two critical controls in stereo applications are the time and dimension knobs. The former increases the delay time between modulations in one channel while reducing it on the other. The latter intertwines the Supro’s twin chrouses in mono or stereo operation, and the confluence of oddly wobbling waveforms creates textures from classy and luxurious to odd. I have no doubt some players will drive engineers crazy capturing and applying the wobbling sounds the Supro makes in stereo. I also have little doubt some engineer will turn the results to gold. There are a lot of sound sculpture possibilities here.
Another upside to the Supro Chorus is that the vibrato does not feel like an afterthought. At moderately high speed and depth settings it does a more than respectable approximation of Lonnie Mack’s woozy Magnatone wiggle and leaves plenty of room for rhythmic articulation amid the thick modulation pulses.
While strictly mono users might find the Chorus’ $249 price tag steep, the Supro has a unique, present voice that alone could justify the cost for chorus users that dread being lost in a mix. And though there’s a decent bit of competition in the analog chorus domain in this price range, the Supro distinguishes itself with its immersive stereo effects and a lively voice that leaves room for other effects. As a very conditional and particular chorus fan, I recommend trying the Supro Chorus to see how its distinct voice and extra functionality fit into your musical world and your classic-versus-irreverent chorus orientation in particular. For a wide variety of users, though, Supro’s recipe will be a sizzler.
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