In this post, I’ll list some of my favorite chorus effects plugins. As a reminder, you might want to check out the stock plugins included with your DAW too, as almost all DAWs include free chorus and distortion options. It’s a good way to get started and doing so will give you a baseline for comparison.
As with the delay and reverb post, this is not meant to be an exhaustive list, but these are some of my personal favorites for chorus plugins, ranging from free to pricey.
The Best Chorus Plugins
UAD Studio D Chorus ($149)
The Studio D Chorus by UAD is an authentic emulation of the renowned Roland Dimension D hardware chorus effect unit. Originally released in 1979, the Dimension D offers incredible simplicity, with just four mode buttons to operate. Each mode offers a subtle but distinct spatial and modulation effect. Mix engineers love this piece because it has the ability to enhance your tracks, like a vocal, without being obvious. There’s only one real downside — since it is part of the UAD ecosystem, you’ll need either a UAD audio interface or UAD DSP Accelerator in order to take advantage of this sweet, subtle chorus plugin. On a personal note, I find myself reaching for this on most mixes.
Valhalla UberMod ($50)
Valhalla UberMod is, in many ways, the opposite of the UAD Studio D Chorus. As you can see from the user interface above, it offers a wide range of customization options. Not only can UberMod create dimensional choruses, but it also offers tape and BBD (bucket brigade delay) effects as well. You can dial in a wide range of effects with parameters that go beyond traditional chorusing. Some of the more novel features include a drive section (for emulating tape saturation and analog delays), powerful EQ with bright and dark color modes, and a WARP InputPan that offers a number of stereo imaging alterations. At just $50, it’s arguably the best value on this list.
Waves MondoMod ($79, on sale for $29)
MondoMod by Waves might be the oldest plugin on this list, but it still has plenty of utility. And as of this post, it’s on sale for $29, so it won’t break the bank either. MondoMod combines AM, FM, and rotation modulators to offer an array of chorus effects. Although it’s not the most modern user interface, MondoMod does come with some useful presets to get you started. I don’t find myself reaching for this too often, but it’s an inexpensive alternative to the others on this list.
Avid C1 Chorus ($4.99)
The C1 Chorus from Avid is a simple modulation plugin (for Pro Tools only) that emulates the classic sound of the Boss CE-1 Chorus pedal. It offers two modes, chorus, and vibrato, and features a really simple user interface, just like the original hardware. The C1 Chorus offers a warm tone and at only five bucks, I would have been remiss to not include it in this list. The one bummer is that it is only compatible with Pro Tools.
D16 Syntorus ($39)
The D16 Syntorus offers a true-to-life emulation of a high-quality analog delay line. By emulating two delay lines, each with its own set of parameter controls, you can achieve some uniquely rich and deep choruses compared to plugins that utilize a single delay line. And as with most of the plugins on this list, you can sync with your DAW’s tempo so that your chorus effect is happening in sync with your track. One limitation of the Syntorus is that it is only compatible with AU and VST host applications, so if you are a Pro Tools user, it is a rare instance where this plugin is not for you.
A brief note on plugin compatibility: AU and VST plugins are not compatible with Pro Tools, but you can use a piece of software called Blue Cat Patchwork which allows you to run virtually any VST or AU plugin in Pro Tools.
The TAL-Chorus-LX is a very simple chorus effect plugin. It only works on stereo channels and offers two modes. TAL says that it models the behavior of a Juno-60 chorus, an effect on the legendary Juno-60 synthesizer. It’s a pretty basic plugin, but it’s also free and still gives you some decent control over your chorus effect’s parameters. Did I mention it’s free?
Chorus Effect Plugin Roundup
Chorus effect plugins are typically used to thicken and provide depth to the source audio signal. They can be applied in varying intensities, from subtle amounts on a vocal to a heavy, wide chorus effect on electric guitar.
My personal favorite is the Studio D Chorus from UAD, for its analog-like warmth and ease of use. It’s like the equivalent of a ‘set it and forget it’ piece of gear.
For those who aren’t able to make use of the Universal Audio ecosystem (or don’t want to spend $150 for a plugin), my runner-up is the Valhalla UberMod. It sounds great, offers a ton of flexibility, and is priced just right. If you’re after a particular chorus sound, chances are you can achieve it with the UberMod.
While the Avid C1 is a nice delay and modeled on a famous stomp box, I don’t find myself reaching for it too often. At five bucks though, it’s still part of my library — a deal too good to pass up.
That leaves us with the D16 Syntorus and free TAL-Chorus-LX. Both are useable plugins in their own right. The Syntorus does exactly what it’s advertised to do, offering an analog sound and two, distinct delay lines. The TAL-Chorus-LX sounds good, though I rarely use it since I have other options at my disposal, and indeed it is rather limited when it comes to adjustable parameters.
In conclusion, if you’re just starting out, toy around with the stock chorus effects built into your DAW. Next, try the TAL-Chorus-LX. After that, it becomes a matter of budget and personal taste. The plugins from UAD (Universal Audio) are simply the best, most authentic emulations available, but the Valhalla offerings are really quite impressive, and significantly more affordable.
In my next article, I’ll share some plugins for one of my favorite effects categories, distortion. In the meantime, what is your chorus plugin of choice?