FAC Chorus review – classy chorus app in an AU format

Download from iTunes App StoreI’ve mentioned a few times here on the blog that modulation effects are perhaps not something I use a lot in my own music making. Some of this might be a bit of a hangover from listening to too many ‘classic’ guitar sounds recorded in the 70s/80s when chorus/phaser/flanger pedals were a novelty that (to my ears at least) becomes very old, very quickly.

Don’t get me wrong though; used a little more tastefully, modulation-based effects can serve a very useful and creative role. However, I generally find that, in order to dial that tasteful end result in, I need something more that the two or three controls often found on a classic guitar stomp-box. Thankfully, the target of this review – Fred Anton Corvest’s FAC Chorus iOs music app – offers just that. So, is FAC Chorus the iOS chorus to overcome my ‘too much modulation’ phobia?

FAC Chorus – a well-featured chorus effect in an AU plugin format.

Modest mod

FAC Chorus arrived on the App Store a few of weeks ago but received it’s first major update about a week or so ago and this was what finally nudged me into taking an overdue look at the app. In terms of basics, the app is universal, requires iOS 10.0 or later and is a modest 19MB download. It is also modestly priced at just UK£2.99/US$2.99; very much in the casual purchase price range.

What’s perhaps less modest is the feature set. As shown in the various screenshots (and I’ll get to in more detail in a minute), the apps offers a rather nice ‘studio rack’ graphical look and, thankfully, a control set that reflects that studio look (and would seem to go much further than your average stomp-box in terms of control options).

What’s also welcome is that, aside from stand-alone use (welcome, but most folks probably would not wish to use the app in that way), then app is primarily intended to be used as an Audio Unit v3 plugin. This is great to see and – finally – AU seems to be getting the attention it deserves in the majority of new effects appears now appearing on the App Store.

FAC Chorus is intended for use as an AU plugin… as shown here within Cubasis.

Chorus of approval

I rather like the graphical look of FAC Chorus. The studio rack look is modern and tastefully done and, even within the modest dimensions of a typical AU sub-windows in hosts such as Cubasis or AUM, the controls are clear and pretty easy to use.

Aside from the rotary knows, you can also select between different Character and LFO options.

The signal path runs through those controls from left to right starting with the Input Gain control. This section of the panel also lets you flip between mono/stereo use and offers a bass boost switch if you want to use it. Next in line is the Delay/Mod section. This includes four rotary controls that are pretty typical of a more sophisticated chorus unit – Delay, Feedback, rate and Depth – plus two ‘switches for Character and LFO shape. Tap either of these two latter controls and a small selection panel pops up allowing you to choose between various settings. Rather nicely, as you make changes to any of the rotary controls, the exact values you are setting are displayed within the sub-panel to the left of the knobs; this makes precise setting of values much easier.

In the Output section you get a Mix (dry/wet) control, output gain and stereo width control. The Mix control is very welcome as this means that, even when used as an insert effect, you can choose to blend the dry and the processed signal if you are chasing something really subtle. The Width knob allows you to control just how far the modulated sound is spread across the stereo field. For bass sounds (for example), don’t overcook this but, applied to mid/high frequency sounds, you can really add some interest to the edges of the stereo image with this.

Three different LFO styles are provided.

Get tech

I had no technical issues using the app and, while it worked fine standalone, most iOS music makers are going to slot in the AU plugin into their favourite AU host. I tried the app with Cubasis and AUM without any problems…  and I would assume it would work just as well with other popular AU hosts.

The presets system also seemed to work well and there is a good selection of presets included with the app that demonstrate what it is capable of. I’ll say more on that in a minute….  but you can, of course, also save your own presets.

Multiple instances of the app worked fine…. as shown here within AUM.

Sound spread

What about the sound? Well, I gave the app a spin with some drums, bass, guitars, synths and vocals, both as an insert and as a send. I have to say that this is one of the nicest modulation/chorus effects I’ve ever used under iOS. What I really like is that you can do super-subtle – and FAC Chorus does that with ease while sounding very good indeed – but, much to my surprise, the app also somehow manages to do more obvious treatments that still sound tasteful and not overblown. OK, you can get to the point of too much detuning and things can sound a bit off-whack (take care with that Rate knob!)….  but, actually, there are some very useable ‘special effects’ at this end of the spectrum also.

But it was those ‘in-between’ sounds that impressed me most. Even with much more effect than I’d usually apply with a chorus, I felt the effect produced something very useable. I particularly enjoyed experimenting with the Delay control when the app was applied to a lead vocal. Setting the Delay time over the 15ms mark created a very nice ‘auto double tracked’ kind of effect with the particular project I was testing with.

The preset system worked well, including the ability to add your own presets.

Add just a touch to a drum mix or a bass and you can enhance the stereo image without making the sound lose too much impact or solidity in the centre (the Mix knob is your friend here). In contrast, with guitars or keys/synth, you can push a little harder and perhaps give a mono source a bit of extra spatial interest. Oh, and if you really want that cliched 1980s stereo chorus guitar sound…. well, yes, you can easily do it :-)

In summary

I’m not sure there is much more to add other than to conclude that FAC Chorus is a classy app. Even if only for very occasional use, I can see lots of iOS musician wanting to find a spot on the iOS device for it. The sound is polished and the control set very flexible. As a fully-featured, and fairly conventional, chorus effect, this is as good as I’ve used under iOS. Fred tells me that there are other iOS music apps in his development pipeline. Here’s hoping they are as good as this first one :-)

And, at UK£2.99/US$2.99, it is very much in the casual purchase price range. FAC Chorus therefore comes highly recommended so check out the two demo videos below and then hit the App Store download button to find out more.

FAC Chorus

Download from iTunes App Store

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    1. Audio Damage is to relese equivilant ..
      wonder how they go?
      Buy both nerherless : }

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