There are some pedals, like the EM600, that take a lot of time for me to review because of how great they are. Then there are pedals like this one: the Behringer UC200. This is a very cheap pedal (usually less that $20 – $25 on Amazon). Because it it so cheap, i feel compiled to lower the bar and see what this pedal can offer on such a low budget. As usual, a demonstration of this pedal is provided on my YouTube channel.
As the code name implies, the UC200 is a pedal from Behringer’s early 200 series. This alone should summarize the build quality. Although I found no issues with the jacks and the knobs being decent, there is a low budget plastic feel to the pedal that improved as the series evolved. There is a single mono input, and a stereo output (two mono 6.35mm TS sockets). So at least we know the pedal will provide us with some widening of the stereo field.On the top of the front panel, there is a row of four knobs: LEVEL, TONE, RATE and DEPTH. This is all the control you have over the pedal.
According to the manual, the LEVEL knob should be something akin to a volume knob or at least control an attenuator in the output. While using it, I noticed only a minute change in volume, which I could not pin on the knob, or being just me playing the keyboard at different velocities. Indeed, this knob appears to behave more like a WET/DRY mix knob, rather than a volume knob.
The TONE knob, is also pretty useless, at least when a synth is plugged into the pedal. The region around noon provides the best results, but there is a distinctive lack of variation while turning this knob around that region. Pushing this knob too far to either the left or the right does change the tonal characteristics of the incoming sound. Albeit this knob does not provide a strong EQ (a simple adjustment of the filter cutoff on the synth is much more effective), the sound that comes from the pedal when TONE is at the extreme positions is quite unpleasant.
The RATE and DEPTH knobs are common to most chorus effect units. The former controls the speed at which the de-tuning stage is being modulated while the later controls the intensity of such modulation. The RATE knob presents a decent range of speed. Indeed, at the far left, the rate appears to be effectively zero, and the pedal work like a broken harmonizer capable of outputting only slightly de-tuned versions of the input (the de-tuning “interval” in this case is controlled by the DEPTH knob). This may be useful for some sound effects and to create some spooky ambiances. As for the DEPTH knob, it can kill the whole chorus effect at the zero position (the effect of the TONE knob remains, though), and provides almost a Leslie effect at its maximum position… so there is something good for me to say about this pedal.
Now, regarding the sound. There are some good things, and some bad things. The good is that even using very shy chorus (low rate, very low depth and TONE at noon), this pedal can filter out most of the noise generated by the delay circuit in the Volca Keys. Also, with all the knobs at noon, the chorus sound is warm and has a decent stereo width. The bad stuff is that the input of the pedal clips easily, and can greatly distort the sound. This happened to me with the Volca Keys, which has only a headphone level output. If you plan to use a synth with a Line level output, you should consider using some form of attenuation (or consider another pedal). In some settings, the de-tuned sound is as intense as the input. This can be useful if you plan to use this as an insert effect, but doesn’t feel ok for a live (or jam) session.
In summary, this is a decent bread-and-butter chorus pedal, with a decent sound with all knobs at noon and provided you don’t overload its input. is it worth it? I’d say no. There are plenty of good chorus pedals in the sub-$50 range. Indeed, even a cheap multi-effect pedal like the Behringer FX600 (available on Amazon for about $40) has a better build-in chorus effect (also with RATE and DEPTH controls). While doing this review, I really struggled to find good things to point out about this pedal. I don’t like gear-bashing, and I always found it hard to understand why Behringer ranks so low among professional musicians. As I dig into the 200 series pedals, I start to understand that some of their earlier devices were not that great, and I’m happy to witness the brand’s evolution towards a range of good quality (yet affordable) guitar pedals in the latter series.
2 Replies to “Behringer Ultra Chorus UC200: Is it worth it?”
I have been gone for some time, but now I remember why I used to love this site. Thank you, I will try and check back more often. How frequently do you update your blog?
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