MXR M234 Analog Chorus Review
The analog tone is the real deal powered by a bucket brigade circuit and without any form of digital signal processing. It sounds incredibly warm and natural, giving you a true analog modulation at the $100 price point.
MXR's M234 is one of the best-selling chorus pedals on the market.
Once we dug in, it made sense why.
With an all-analog circuit and a warm, vintage layer of modulation, it gives you a ton of value at just $99 retail. In this article we review the M234 chorus going over its features, sound quality, and a full breakdown complete with a weighted ratings table.
Each category is given a percentage rating, then added up to give you a point total on a scale of one to 100.
The MXR M234's final rating is 92.4, which is in the table below and reflected in our chorus pedal roundup page.
Point Value (%)
1. Overall Tone Grade
3. EQ Comprehension
5. Noise Control
6. Additional Filtering
7. Build Quality
8. True Bypass
9. Tone Quality Bump
To review the pedal we've tested it first hand, researched thoroughly, and drawn on years of playing experience from multiple guitar players. For testing the pedal, we used a tube-driven Mesa Rectoverb amplifier with a clean tone and a Fender Thinline Telecaster with Lindy Fralin pickups.
MXR M234 Comparison Section
In this section we've put the M234 chorus in a table with several other comparable chorus pedals. These chorus pedals are in a similar price range and some of them we've reviewed separately.
Also note that we link to Sweetwater as a means of supporting Guitar Chalk, yet at no extra cost to you.
Thanks for trusting our reviews.
MXR M234 Analog Chorus
Walrus Audio Julia Chorus
TC Electronic Corona Chorus
Boss Chorus Ensemble CE-5
In this section we've linked to Jim Dunlop's own review of the MXR M234 chorus pedal. Jim Dunlop actually owns the MXR brand and does a great job with their YouTube demos.
IDEAL FOR: Guitar players that run tube amps with a lot of clean tones, and modulation layering.
You can achieve a really deep, shimmering sound, which I like with the rate turned down lower. You can also get a more erratic, pitch-shifting type of sound with the depth control. It's a great tone for dressing up a clean chord progression or a melodic fill.
On more intense settings, the shift in pitch gives you almost a detuned sound, which is a dramatic departure from the subtle layering that you get in lower control settings.
This distinction is pretty common with most modulation controls, and both extremes sound good in the M234.
We like the smoother layer of modulation better, which doesn't seem to intrude too much on the amp's clean tone.
Good chorus pedals give you a transparent layer of modulation that allows your amp's clean tone to still be the primary focus of the sound.
Turning the Level knob down on the M234 reduces the mix in the effect and gives you more of the clean signal. You'll want to experiment with the Level control if you feel like the effect is too saturating or if it's "covering up" your guitar and amp's natural tone.
The M234 is at its best with a low rate and high depth setting, giving you a thick, but natural-sounding modulation. It's profile is warm, like you would expect from an analog circuit, and certainly sounds better than most digital comparisons, especially given the M234's price range.
Higher notes sound brighter, though the M234 has its own EQ so you can cut that down and make it more or less harsh.
The M234's control panel looks busy, but it's really simple. Low and High controls are an EQ for the effect's wet signal, which allows you to EQ separately from your amplifier (i.e. just the effected tone).
As we've mentioned, the Level knob controls the wet/dry mix, while Rate and Depth are your two common modulation controls.
Turn up depth to increase the cut of the waveform modulation and to create a deeper, more de-tuned chorus sound.
Rate controls the speed of the waveform, giving you a slow simmering effect on the lower settings, or a fast, swirling sound on the higher settings.
Here's a quick breakdown of all five controls, top to bottom:
I also like the smoothness of these smaller knobs. Somehow they're easier to work with than the larger knobs, like the one on the Phase 90. Considering many chorus pedals are limited to only rate and depth controls, it's surprising to see MXR give you a five-part scheme on a pedal as small as the M234. It's also a bit unusual to see this kind of versatility on an analog chorus pedal. MXR did everything right with this one.
Cost and Value of the M234
We've already been clear that the $99 price tag of the M234 is a huge selling point.
To be honest, it's surprising that MXR doesn't charge more, as chorus pedals with a similar stat line easily go for $199 or more.
- Completely analog
- High level of control and functionality
- High standard of tone quality
Getting all this for $99 isn't common.
Usually, you have to forgo analog tone quality or the high level of control. Since both are present in the M234, it's one of the single highest-value chorus pedals we can recommend.
It might even be one of the highest value pedals overall, regardless of category.
There aren't really any situations where we wouldn't recommend the M234, assuming you have a need for a chorus pedal. It's great for guitar players that use a lot of clean tones, perhaps best suited for rhythm electric guitar players that focus on lower gain levels and less distortion.
But unless you're a pure beginner without a need for this type of effect, it's a fantastic pedal for any and all situations.
For anyone needing/wanting a chorus pedal, this is our first pick.
If you're running an analog-only rig, it's a no-brainer.
In this section we're answering a couple FAQs that we've seen come up, regarding the MXR M234 chorus pedal. If you have questions about it that we haven't answered, leave a note in the comments section and we'll check it out.
Is it true bypass?
Disappointingly, between the Sweetwater entry and Jim Dunlop's product page, we've seen no mention of the M234 being true bypass.
M234 or one of the Boss chorus pedals?
The M234 is often compared to the Boss CE-2, CE-2w, CE-5, and CH-1. Aside from arguments that could be made on behalf of the CE-2w, we'd argue that the M234 is a better value than any of these pedals. Boss chorus pedals are solid, but they don't give you as much as the M234, plus they're more expensive.
Where can I download the user manual?
You can access the M234's product manual here.
If you have lingering questions about the MXR M234 or our review process, leave them in the comments section below. I'll jump on and help out as much as possible, plus there are other Guitar Chalk readers that have been joining in and helping out as well.
It's a good place to extend the conversation and make these pages more valuable to people who might come across it in the future.
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