Product

ROLAND PH-830 STEREO RACK PHASER RSS

Brand: roland

Categories: Processors & Effects

The Roland PH-830 is a veritable behemoth of a rack phaser and another big favourite here at Soundgas....

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The Roland PH-830 is a veritable behemoth of a rack phaser and another big favourite here at Soundgas.

The price includes 20% VAT – customers outside the European Union pay the tax-free price of £1110 – please ask before buying.

This unit is in very good condition indeed and has been serviced and calibrated by our tech. It’s working superbly and sounds stunning (click on the photos to zoom in).

One of the rarer members of the Roland Studio Series family of rack effects – (see our other Signal Processors listings for others in the series).

The excellent Mode Zero review (reproduced below) covers pretty much everything you need to know.

This phaser is capable of turning the weediest, least-inspiring sound into a sand-kicking monster.

There are a few minor scuffs, dings and scratches to the case, and small areas of paintwork have been touched-up round the edges/rack ears: it looks superb when racked.

Some minor crackle is possible when pots and switches haven’t been used for a while, but this quickly clears with use.

It originally sported massive handles, but these are no longer present.

It is a 100v Japanese model and will run fine on North American mains 115/120v without a transformer (we run all our tests using 120v power); a step-down transformer is recommended for extended use.

A step-down transformer is required in the UK/EU.

We do not recommend using cheap generic Chinese mains transformers and can supply a high quality UK-made unit if required.

From the Mode Zero Roland PH-830 review:

(click on the link for pictures & mp3 samples)

Roland’s PH-830 stereo analog phase shifter was part of their late 1970s “Roland Studio System” (RSS), consisting of several hefty rackmount devices, including the classic RV-800 spring reverb and two very large graphic equalizers.  All were equipped with chunky metal rack handles, a bulletproof front panel, big toggle switches, multiple front and rear panel inputs and outputs, and excellent specs.  In 1979, the list price for the PH-830 was $795 US.   It is not often found on the used market.

Although perhaps not as quirky or bizarre as some phasers, the PH-830 might in some ways be considered an analog “reference phaser,” with a classic phasing tone, very low distortion and silky smooth sweeps, even at extreme settings.  The stereo signal path consists of two eight stage phase shifters in parallel, with independent inputs, outputs, and CV inputs.  Each channel has controls for intensity (LFO depth), shift frequency (30 Hz – 10 kHz), and resonance (feedback).   If the intensity controls are set to 0, the shift frequency controls can be used to manually set the phase shift for each channel.

As the intensity controls are turned up, both channels are modulated by a single LFO, although an invert switch inverts the phase of the LFO waveform on the second channel, for panning stereo phasing effects – it’s very tempting to leave it enabled permanently.  It would be nice if the PH-830 had independent LFOs for each channel, although it can be driven by external LFOs.   But the PH-830’s single LFO is well specified, with a choice of sine, triangle, and sawtooth (ramp) waveforms, and rates from 1 cycle per minute up to 10 Hz.   There is also an LFO trigger (sync) input, and in general the i/o is what you would expect of a piece of gear meant to be used with a modular synth.

Internally, the PH-830 is typical of late 70s / early 80s Roland products: very solid both mechanically and electronically, with beautiful large circuit boards, beefy components and immaculate assembly quality.  The phaser allpass stages use optocouplers, like the Mu-Tron Bi-Phase and some other phasers, but the Roland uses additional circuitry to obtain a 1V / octave control voltage response, while maintaining the low distortion and smooth modulation response of an opto design.  As a result, the LFO sweep sounds natural and musical at all speeds. Although the Vactrols don’t completely tame the edges of the sawtooth LFO waveform at low rates, at faster LFO speeds the Vactrols’ smoothing effect is just right, enabling asymmetric vibratos and raygun noises.

One characteristic of a great phaser is that it sounds good at both high and low regeneration (a.k.a. resonance or feedback) settings, whereas a poor phaser sounds weak unless the regeneration is cranked up, but then sounds gimmicky.  The PH-830 sounds exceptional even at zero resonance, and its high-regen behavior does have a “Roland sound” – intense but controlled, tasteful rather than nasty.  While perhaps not as over-the-top as some phasers, the PH-830’s transparent yet strong sound allows it to be used in a wider range of applications.

 

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