What is the Boss Dimension C Chorus and How Does It Work?

The Boss Dimension C is the stuff of legend – its swirling 3D quality takes the chorus effect to uncharted depths. Since being discontinued in 1989, it’s become as elusive as it is sought after. So how does it work and why is it so popular? Let’s take a closer look…

Sam Beattie

Sam Beattie

Produced and sold between 1985 and 1989, the original Boss Dimension C was relatively short-lived. But in its 4 years of production, it made a sizeable impression on the world of guitar effects. Like all Boss pedals, it was rugged, compact, easy to use and reliable. But a combination of trailblazing tones and rarity cemented its place as one of the most sought-after modulation pedals ever made. With Boss resurrecting the Dimension C in the form of a Waza Craft-designed version, we felt it was only fitting to explore the magic behind the original Boss Dimension C.

How Does the Dimension C Chorus Work?

The Dimension C is an all-analog Chorus pedal, though its functionality and sound set it apart from the crowd. It used a BBD (Bucket Brigade Device) circuit, a type of circuit that delays signals by routine periods of time. It also uniquely uses two modulated delayed signals alongside a dry signal. These delayed signals are out of phase with each other to spare you the motion sickness. This circuitry gave the Dimension chorus effect a more subtle, ‘motionless’ tone.

The immediately striking thing about the Dimension C is the lack of knobs. You’re instead presented with 4 buttons – and that’s it. These 4 buttons represent the 4 modes, with 1 being the mildest and 4 being the most extreme. Each mode could be described as varying the ‘rate’ and ‘depth’ parameters. With each step up, the rate gets faster and the effect becomes more prominent.

This simple interface is one of the biggest selling points of the Dimension C. While many gearheads demand as many tweaking options as possible, it simply didn’t matter in this case. Every mode sounded good. A mono input and stereo outputs allow you to make maximum use of the Dimension’s signature wide sound. What’s not to love?

How does the Dimension C compare to other chorus pedals?

The Dimension C’s schematic is slightly different to the usual chorus formula. As mentioned above, its use of two delayed signals – out of phase – combined with the BBD circuitry offers a motionless but broad sound. It’s unmistakable.

Chorus pedals, for the most part, combined your dry signal with a second signal that’s often delayed (via an LFO) and/or pitch shifted. This makes for a swirling, watery sound that’s also instantly recognisable. But the fact that the Dimension C offered a slightly different take on the chorus effect, as well as a simple 4-button interface, seemed to capture the imagination of guitarists everywhere.

Famous Dimension C users

Don’t take it from us – take it from the major players who actually use it! The Dimension C’s reputation is both a cause and effect of the hype that surrounds it. Here are a few examples of famous players who use the Dimension C:

  1. John Petrucci, Dream Theater – Petrucci used a Dimension C as part of his live rig for Dream Theater’s 2014 ‘Along For The Ride’ tour.
  2. Chino Moreno, Deftones – Moreno has stated that a friend of his gave him his Dimension C after a long search for classic ‘80s chorus sounds. He now takes it everywhere he goes!
  3. Justin Meldal-Johnsen – notorious gear-nerd Meldal-Johnsen uses a Dimension C alongside a classic Boss Chorus CE-2 for the best of both worlds.
  4. Reeves Gabrels, The Cure – Gabrels uses the Dimension C as a pivotal part of his live pedalboard. He uses its stereo outputs for massive width, giving him a much broader platform for more pedals.

The Dimension C vs. CE-5 Chorus Ensemble

The Boss CE-5 Chorus Ensemble is a more conventional chorus effect. As mentioned earlier, it uses a second signal that’s delayed and pitch shifted offering whatever amount of swirl you desire. As with many modern Boss effects, it also features in-depth filter/EQ controls that allow you to hone in on your sound.

By comparison, the Dimension is ultra-simple. No knobs, no filter, no rate or depth controls. Just 4 simple modes that sound great. We’re firm believers that guitarists could almost be divided into two crowds: those who want maximum control, and those who just want to plug in and sound great. The Dimension absolutely appeals to the latter!

What is the Roland Dimension D?

The Roland Dimension D (SDD-320) actually came before the Dimension C, and was a major influence on its design. This effect unit provided stunning analog warmth and unprecedented width, making it an instant classic.

Roland SDD-320 Dimension D - Andertons Music Co.

The Dimension D was known as much for its stereo enhancement and incredibly spacious sound as much as it was for its chorus tone. It came in the form of a rack unit, and quickly became a mainstay of studios worldwide. The Dimension C took the best bits, particularly on the chorus side of things, and squeezed them into the classic Boss stompbox enclosure.

Boss Dimension C Clones & Alternatives

Over the years, many manufacturers have attempted to clone the Dimension or create viable alternatives. As mentioned above, Boss themselves released the CE-5 Chorus Ensemble to fill the void that the Dimension C left behind. While it wasn’t the same, it satisfied guitarists’ desire for a similarly rugged, reliable chorus pedal. Beyond that, here are a couple of alternatives:

  • TC Electronic 3rd Dimension – part of TC Electronic’s Analog Armada Series, the 3rd Dimension also replicated the 4-button design. And it’s purple!
  • Line 6 M Series – the Line 6 modulation library features a setting called Dimension Chorus. Many have likened this, naturally, to the classic Dimension C tone.
  • TC Electronic Corona (Dimension-M Toneprint) – the TC Electronic Corona is among the most popular chorus pedals on the market. Using their handy Toneprint technology, they developed a setting called Dimension-M, which many users agreed managed to get pretty close to the desired effect.

Special Mention: The Boss Waza Craft DC-2W Dimension C Chorus

As mentioned earlier, Boss have resurrected the Dimension C in the form of a Waza Craft-designed guitar pedal. It still has the 4-button design, with mono input and stereo output, but it also features a mode switch. This allows you to go from classic Dimension C sound to a stunning replication of the Roland Dimension D, all in one stompbox!

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Want to know more about Waza Craft? Check out our article on it here!

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Sam Beattie
Sam Beattie
Sam is one of our content writers, as well as being our resident southpaw and synth enthusiast. He spends his free time composing for music libraries and playing in a post-rock band. Sam's desert island gear would be his Mexican Tele, Strymon El Capistan and Teenage Engineering OP-1.

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