The heritage of Boss chorus effects is hard to capture without losing something of its significance. To put it in perspective, this week Dan & Mick lined up a set of famous Boss gear that attest to the ongoing history of innovation and sonic brilliance that has extended over almost forty years. From the Boss Dimension D SDD-320 rack effect, to its initial stompbox version, the Boss DC-2, and now to the reimagined Waza edition, the Boss DC-2W, Boss has proved that sometimes the best new ideas are based on something very old.
To understand the pandemonium around the latest Boss DC-2W, it’s important to know where this pedal fits in the larger effect empire of Boss as well as how it achieves its unmistakable modulated sound.
The Multiple Dimensions of Boss Chorus Effects
As Dan described, the Dimension D rack effect is coming up on its fortieth anniversary. In 1979, Boss released this piece of studio gear that, honestly, looks a bit more like a VCR unit than it does a groundbreaking effect. But, as always, with gear it’s the sound that counts!
The Dimension D sits in a class all its own. With four push buttons to select preset sounds, the Dimension D chops, modulates, and reconstructs your signal in a non-traditional way. As Dan explained, unlike a typical chorus which splits the signal and modulates one line of the sound before mixing it back in, as its name suggests, the Dimension D does this multi-dimensionally. The Dimension D “splits the signal multiple times and then each phase line is modulated individually…but depending on which setting is selected you get different lines fed back into each other.”
Fast-forward a few years and, as Mick noted, Boss distilled this sound down into its compact pedal format with the Dimension DC-2 in 1984/85. This pedal meant the studio sound of the rack effect could sit underfoot in any playing environment. Despite its promising sound, however, the DC-2 had a relatively short production run and has since existed in the shadow of the more popular Boss CE-2.
The Sound of the Waza Rendition Compared Against the Originals
While most other Waza pedals are contending against but a single effect in the past. The DC-2W, however, has to prove its worth against two major effects in its lineage. So how does it fair?
Functionally, the DC-2W is both vintage and modern. One of the biggest assets of the new DC-2W is that it retained that iconic four-button style of the original analog effect yet made it possible to depress two buttons at the same time rather than just one. This means that the DC-2W opens up an entirely new set of creative effect combinations that were unknown in this latest iteration.
Sonically, the DC-2W benefited from some fine-tuning in circuit delivery. Right out of the gates, Dan remarked “the new one [DC-2W] is cleaner, the old one’s a bit crunchier.” Depending on how gritty you like your sounds, this is a plus or a minus. The added clarity certainly will be of interest to pilots of modern pedal boards that are enemies of hum.
The Chorus for People Who Don’t Like Chorus?
Maybe it’s because I grew up on 90s grunge and was weaned on punk rock, but I’ve always struggled with knowing what to do with chorus. I’ve dabbled with the Boss CE-2W but haven’t really connected with chorus until this new Dimension DC-2W. Why? To my ear, it’s a chorus for those who don’t get chorus.
As both Dan & Mick noted throughout the episode, the Dimension choruses are different than traditional choruses. Of course, they’re modulation-based, yet they function almost as a broadening and thickening agent for the sound. This chorus effect, then, is less a washy, warbley wave, than it is a way of adding texture and space to your tone. It’s something that once it’s on you get used to hearing and almost don’t realize is there until it’s gone!
No matter what your chorus needs—old school, new school, or somewhere in between—head over to Riff City online or in store to find your best effect fit. Boss DC-2W pedals are currently on pre-order, so click over to get yours!
TPS Rig Rundown:
Guitars: Macmull S-Classic, PRS Silver Sky, Gretsch G6118T Players Edition Anniversary.
Pedals: D’Addario Pedal Tuner, Wampler Pantheon, ZVEX Box of Rock, Boss CE-2W Chorus, Free the Tone Tri-Avatar Multi-Dimensional Chorus, Boss DC-2 Dimension C, Boss DC-2W Dimension C, Boss SDD-320 Dimension D, Dunlop EP-103 Echoplex.
Amps: Fender Hot Rod Deluxe III, Supro Black Magick.