Eventide Instant Phaser Masterclass
This is the Eventide Instant Phaser Mk II, a recreation of the world’s first rack-mount phaser and arguably pro audio’s first electronic effects box. This new version is an accurate recreation of the sound of the original and can be heard on legendary songs such as Led Zeppelin’s Kashmir.
The Instant Phaser was built with eight all pass filters, each of which varies the input audio’s phase relationship over a specific range of frequencies. We’re going to look at the features of the plugin, which faithfully recreates the subtle details and enhances the original by allowing full automation and a few other tricks.
The first thing to look at is the modes of the phaser. The original Instant Phaser had two outputs, a main and an aux out and each one different slightly to introduce phase differences. Each mode represents a different output configuration and the results are shallow, deep and wide modes.
The output of the phaser is a combination of the phase shifted signal and the input signal. The depth knob controls the amount of the input signal, as the two signals are closer and amplitude. The notches in the output spectrum are deeper at 0% the output is solely the phase shift is signal and you will hear a slight detuning effect at 100% the output is the addition of the phase shifted signal and the input.
Now let’s look at each of the modulation sources and how the effect the sound of the phaser. Each source will move the frequency at which the all-pass filters are operating and each affects the signal differently. Choose oscillator and the oscillator knob will change the rate at which the LFO moves the all pass filter. The sync switch is used to sync the LFO to the temple of the session. The oscillator rate is then set in subdivisions ranging from one 64th of a note to 16 bars. The re-trig switch restarts the LFO.
A trick is to automate this at the start of the phaser effect to ensure the LFO starts at specific times. Manual corresponds to the big dial in the center, which must be moved manually to change the voltage being sent to the filters. The manual knob is great for automating small phrases with phasing. Check out this trick for making one lick stand out over the others.
Envelope follower uses the amplitude of the signal to affect the phase shift. Similar to how a compressor tracks levels. This mode uses the change in level of your signal to move the all-pass filters. Unlike the oscillator, which changes the signal up and down because it’s a waveform, the envelope follower will instantly jump to the maximum phase shift and then fade out if it doesn’t continue to receive a signal at that level. The release knob adjusts the amount of time it takes to fade back down to no phasing.
The side chain switch allows an external signal to trigger the envelope follower. Remote mode enables mini control over the phase shift. Note that in addition to selecting the mod source, the remote knob must be set to on remote is great for live use as you can modulate the phase shift using the modulation wheel on a keyboard without reaching for the mouse.
The age knob controls the age of the electrical components that make up the Instant Phaser. The physical world is not precise, but the digital world is, and when you emulate physical hardware using digital code, you’re creating something that can exist in the real world because the Instant Phaser contained eight stages of all pass filters, there was variation. Age takes it one step further by aging the original non-precise components.
Discover some of the creative ways that the Instant Phaser has been used in recording history starting in the 70’s!