Boss PH-3 Review (Phase Shifter)
The biggest consideration when looking at the Boss PH-3 is how you feel about the added control. The PH-3 Phase Shifter gives you control but no analog circuits, while most phaser pedals go the opposite direction. Yet, the PH-3 sounds great and gives you flexibility, making it hard to complain much about an invisible interior circuit.
The Boss PH-3 is one of the most popular phaser pedals available, sporting seven phase modes, an expression pedal pedal control, and a three-band EQ.
This is our full Boss PH-3 review, conducted with the Phase Shifter pedal in-hand and based on a first-hand account. Note that we did not test the expression pedal functionality, though we have no reason to believe there are any concerns related to it.
For our Boss PH-3 review we tested to pedal with two different electric guitars, through both a solid state and tube amplifier, and primarily with a clean, undistorted signal.
If you have additional questions about our review process, hit us up via the comment section below and we'll be happy to answer.
In this section we've setup a small table to compare the Boss PH-3 to a few other phaser pedals that are in a similar price range.
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Boss PH-3 Phase Shifter
Walrus Audio Lillian Phaser
EHX Small Stone Phaser
MXR Phase 90
In this section we've added some ratings for the Boss PH-3 with a simplified four-part ratings system. We've also cited some broad pros and cons for this particular phaser pedal that we think are most relevant to potential buyers.
IDEAL FOR: Any time you need a highly controllable layer of modulation.
Sound Quality and Tone
The PH-3 has a more modern edge to it, almost like a 90s or early 2000s phaser sound, especially compared to the older PH-2. Though it still has a lot of warmth and organic appeal, comparable - on certain settings - to the tone we get out of the analog MXR Phase 90.
With lower depth and speed settings, it creates a subtle layer of modulation that does a good job of dressing up a clean tone.
Lower settings on the PH-3 work well with the following scenarios:
- Clean chord progressions
- Ringing, sustained chords
- Short, single-note fills
- Short melody lines
We found the PH-3 to be most effective as a clean layer, which is consistent with other modulation effects. The PH-3 just gives you a lot more control and ways to tweak your sound than we see in most comparable phaser pedals.
Control and EQ
The control scheme in the PH-3 centers mostly around the mode selection, which affords you the following digitally modeled options:
- 12 stage
- 10 stage
- 8 stage
- 4 stage
From there, you have a three-band EQ that allows you to manipulate the effect:
- Res (resolution)
The only disappointment here is the lack of a mix or wet/dry control. Boss often leaves this knob out though, perhaps in favor of making room for the mode selector. The controls they do have are responsive and effective, giving you plenty of room to work on either the lower or higher intensity levels.
We thought the PH-3 performs best on the lower, more subtle settings, but definitely has some use on the more intense settings as well.
Boss PH-3 VS Phase 90
The PH-3 hovers around $135 retail, which is considerably more expensive than the MXR Phase 90 (one of its main competitors). However, the PH-3 gives you a lot more control and flexibility than the Phase 90 does. It's a matter of whether you value the control of the PH-3, or the analog circuit of the Phase 90.
In most cases, analog phaser pedals will give you better tone but less control.
Digital phaser pedals, like the PH-3, will give you more control but lack the analog tone profile.
Since the PH-3 gets you a surprisingly good digital tone quality, we still like it a little better than the Phase 90.
If you're looking for the Boss PH-3 user manual, you can download it directly from Roland Corp.
- Pedal Type: Phaser/modulation
- Inputs: 1 x instrument
- Outputs: 1 x 1/4"
- Power Source: 9V DC
- Batteries: 9V
- Height: 2.4"
- Width: 2.9"
- Depth: 5.1"
- Weight: 0.9 lbs.
As I mentioned earlier, the Boss PH-3 is compatible with expression pedals via the EXP/CTL jack. Here's a list of confirmed compatible expression pedals:
- FS-5U footswitch
- Roland EV-5
The Boss PH-3 Phase Shifter has a current draw of about 40mA, with an expected battery lifespan of 9.5 hours, assuming a 9V alkaline battery.
If you're prioritizing control, the Boss PH-3 is a good fit.
If you're more interested in a set-and-forget type of phase pedal, it might be better to re-assess and go with something like the Phase 90 or Walrus Audio Lillian phaser. Overall, the PH-3 is a fantastic modulation pedal with plenty to offer in most situations and all skill levels.
It's hard to find much to complain about, outside of the omission of a wet/dry mix, but we can overlook that for the plethora of additional control.
Do you have questions about our Boss PH-3 review or the review process? If so, drop a line in the comments section below and we'll chat.
Se you there.