With the help of Bieke I finally finished this review, it took me a while as I was flooded with news and had a series of technical problems with the site.
Bieke has been passionated about pedals for over 25 years and is very well known on the Harmony-Central forums, especially for his great posts about new, weird or obscure pedals and brands. Together we also do effects workshops in Belgium with some theory about effects history, types,... and the possibility to try lots of different effects of different types, eras and countries.
The concept of combining chorus/flanger into one pedal is not new and there are already some very good pedals available, like the Fulltone Choralflange or the TC Electronics Stereo Chorus Flanger, to name just two. So what about the new T-Rex Twister 2?
The Twister 2 has a noiseless true bypass footswitch and a purple status LED. It has controls for Level, Depth, Regen, Tone, Rate, a Chorus/Flanger toggle switch, and a side-mounted, push-in/push-out Gain control with a dedicated red LED to adjust the ingoing signal for a cleaner sound or for a more oversaturated sound. There is a single input and stereo left and right outputs on the top side. Power is via a Boss style 9V DC barrel adapter plug or a 9V battery (though battery life is only 30 to 60 minutes according to the manual).
The pedal has a nice design with a functional layout, perhaps a little difficult to see the control settings on a dark stage. The controls are very responsive, with a sturdy feel. Top notch quality and super solid construction.
When I switched the pedal on it took me a minute to realize why there was no sound at all: the side-mounted gain control was turned all the way down. This is one of those set and forget controls, so this one needs to be set first. At about 1 o'clock, strumming vigorously triggered the peak LED, which is what the recommended setting is according to the manual, but the gain control is also very useful to go for more Hi-Fi subtle sounds on lower settings, or thick and rich sounds on higher settings. On top of that, the level control allows to set the overall output volume, from unity gain or below all the way to a hefty volume boost.
According to T-Rex, the Twister 2 can deliver both vintage as well as modern chorus sounds. So I was hoping to be able to dial in the good old CE-1 Chorus Ensemble sound, but the Twister 2 didn't really nail it. Or actually, it did it pretty well but without the noise and hiss and tone sucking, all very much part of the vintage CE-1 charm. The Tone control is where it's at, turning it counter clockwise makes the effect sound darker, turning it clockwise breathes life into the effect and fully clockwise makes the chorus sound cold and digital with a lot of shimmering sounds to be had in between. On the higher settings I could even hear a slight short delay effect creeping in.
The Depth control determines the degree of modulation, ranging from subtle to extreme chorus sounds. It will yield those typical subtle chimey chorus sounds on lower settings and it goes all the way up to thick and syrupy chorus sounds.
The Rate knob controls the speed of the chorus effect, it has a vast range from excrutiatingly slow to extremely fast and wobbly.
The chorus doesn't do pitch vibrato, nor could I find a convincing Leslie sound, the first being quite obnoxious anyway and not really useful, the latter being virtually impossible to achieve in a stompbox format. With rate control set pretty low and the depth about halfway up, a nice rotating sound can be had anyhow, it just falls a bit short to recreate that faithful vintage Leslie vibe.
Most chorus pedals have an over the top effect sound, the Twister 2 excels in subtle chorus sounds, making it very useful for acoustic guitar and most likely for electric piano as well. For the electric guitar player, there are plenty of classic chorus sounds to be had as well, it's also very good at those shimmering and sparkling chorus sounds, reminiscent of the eighties, considered by many as the golden age of the chorus effect. Great for recreating those classic new wave sounds. I really preferred the subtle and light character of the Twister 2 chorus. Pristine voicing, Hi-Fi quality.
The flanger mode on the Twister 2 can be set to taste with the same knobs as the chorus, plus the Regen knob. The Regen control adjusts the amount of feedback of the flanging effect, it will go from a smooth jet flange to an extreme “rubber band” effect. The Tone control, even more effectively as in chorus mode, allows to colour the flanging effect from vintage – no problem to dial in that typical lush and mellow sound of the Electro-Harmonix Electric Mistress flanger for example – to a more metallic and digital flanging sound.
The Depth control allows you to adjust that typical flanging swoosh, from very subtle to omnipresent. The Rate control lets you tweak the speed of the swoosh, it is a wide range control that allows very slow sweeping flanging effect up to space gun sounds. I can imagine this flanger would certainly appeal to the synth crowd as well.
Also, much to my surprise, increasing the Rate with the Depth down and a bit of Regen gave a rather convincing Leslie-type effect.
And does it do Through Zero Flanging? I think it does pretty well with the rate control all the way down.
- Did I mention this pedal is dead silent? As with the Reptile 2 this is really remarkable.
- The Twister pedal is equipped with all the right controls, functionalities and features to give you a wide range of chorus and flanger sounds.
- The Twister 2 has a mono output and stereo outputs for the studio or live stereo setups. Using the chorus mode in stereo was particularly pleasing.
- A wide variety of sounds are available by varying the Gain, Level and Tone controls. You can make this pedal go from a bright, clean, and transparent setting to a thick and throaty growl.
- The Level control really helps you match the volume to get unity gain or even boost the effect. The Gain control adds a lot of dynamics, allowing me to play softer or more aggressive tones, simply by using a softer attack or by strumming or picking harder. Brilliant !
- If there is one particular feature that I liked best about this pedal – I'm sure I will not be the only one - is that it absolutely loves distortion. Those subtle chorus settings I mentioned earlier sound truly phenomenal on an overdriven amp, adding a lot of texture and expressiveness to the distorted tone. You have to hear it to believe it. The flanger allows to contour your distortion sound, adding a fair bit of shifting harmonics and pushing at the edge of feedback, reminiscent of the classic Van Halen flanging sound. It also does a most convincing jet flanging effect. And a lot of over the top and extreme craziness.
Bottom line : possibly one of the best and certainly one of the most versatile modulation pedals available today.
The Points : 9/10
- Construction : sturdy, top notch, a perfect 10.
- Price : not cheap, but not too expensive either considering it's a 2-in-1 pedal, it gets an 8
- Ease of Use : it is great for endless twiddling and fiddling, yet easy to dial in, I'll give it a 9 because of the rather odd placement of the Gain control, from some angles you won't be able to see the peak LED, not a biggie though
- Sound : well I'd give the chorus an 8, and the flanger a 9, in stereo mode the chorus deserves a 9 as well, and since both chorus and flanger sound stellar with distortion, 10. Definitely lots of points for sounds.
- Customer support : 2 year warranty, that's a 9 as well.
For more info, demos and links, have a look at the product page: T-Rex Twister 2