The Flanger Lab FX Chain provides a wide variety of effects, from traditional flanging to psycho-acoustic panning, and can even incorporate some mid-side mojo—it all depends on how you set the controls. Originally, I had planned to include a control panel for Studio One Pro users, but there are simply too many options to fit into eight controls. It’s more fun just to open up all the effects, play with the knobs, and be pleasantly surprised.
The FX Chain itself is fairly straightforward (fig. 1): A split into two Flangers, one preceded by a Mixtool to invert the phase, and a Dual Pan at the end.
Figure 1: Flanger Lab FX Chain block diagram
Now let’s look at the effects (fig. 2).
Figure 2: Effects used in the Flanger Lab FX Chain.
The audio example, with stereo program material, uses the settings shown in figures 1 and 2. However, this is just one possible sound. Flanger Lab is equally effective with mono distorted guitar, stereo string pads, and more.
Here are some tips on how different control settings affect the sound.
Flanger Lab works with mono or stereo audio.
Because the Mixtool is inverting the phase of one split, as the flangers approach the same audio in both channels, the mid cancels (which gives through-zero flanging), and you’re essentially just hearing the sides.
Choosing Normal split mode instead of Channel Split accentuates the mid cancellation. This can produce a dreamy, ethereal effect with instruments that you want to have come in and out of the mix in interesting ways.
Offsetting the Mixtool gain by even just a little bit will reduce the cancellation when the audio coincides.
Offsetting the Flanger Delay controls changes the sound—for example, there’s quite a difference between having a delay of 1 ms for one Flanger and 5 ms for the other, compared to the default of 2 ms for each one.
I prefer offsetting the Speed controls so that one is slow, and the other faster. This helps randomize the sweeping effect.
LFO Amount and Mix do what you’d expect.
Setting Feedback to the same negative percentage has less intensity than setting them both to the same positive percentage, but try setting one for negative feedback, and the other for positive feedback.
Altering Input Balance on the Dual Pan, with both Pan controls centered, changes the proportion of the two flangers in the audio output. When set fully to the left or right, the sound is like traditional flanging, based on the flanger settings in the left or right channel respectively.
Centering both Dual Pan controls gives a traditional, mono flanging sound, with through-zero cancellation. Spreading the controls out further products psycho-acoustic panning effects that will make your head spin on headphones, but translate to speakers as well. Also when spread fully to the left and right, mid cancellation doesn’t happen. With playback over a mono system, the panning goes away, and you just get flanging.
The controls interact—for example, changing the delay time will change the effect of the panning mentioned in the previous tip.
The bottom line is you can play with the controls for hours. Well, at least I could! If you come up with a cool sound, save it as a custom FX Chain. Given the variables, you might not be able to find that sound again.
Finally, there seems to be persistent confusion about how to handle downloaded FX Chains, like where to store them, and how to put them in custom folders. For answers to these and other questions about FX Chains, please check out the Friday Tip Fun Facts about FX Chains.