The folks at Walrus Audio are building a small range of products. Based in Oklahoma, this collective is working on a balance between art and performance in sound manipulation. Needless to say, the pedals are built by hand. Open one and you will find a high quality build, everything is neat on the inside. The enclosures are finished with very striking graphics, I love them! Besides pedal builds they also do modifications and rehouse your pedals. Check out their website!
The Voyager is an overdrive pedal that will work well as a boost pedal, overdrive pedal or tone shaper. It has a very straight forward set of controls. Vol, Gain and Tone don't need a lot of explanation but they are very interactive. The build is solid, the controls feel great and you can that this isn't a cheaply build pedal. The graphics are so nice, one could be afraid of stepping on the pedal!!
The pedal in use
With the huge amount of overdrive pedals available these days, it is sometimes hard to hear what is different from this pedal and the next one. With some tweaking, you can find some good tones in most pedals. The pedals that stand out are usually either doing a lot of things very well or one-trick-ponies doing that particularly trick extremely well. The Voyager falls into the 1st category.
IMHO, the keyword for this pedal, and the review, is “clarity”. As much as ‘transparent’ must be the most overrated character for pedals, clarity must be the most underrated. Clarity is key to a guitar player's tone because you are working in the mid frequencies and they host a fierce battle for their territory. The way to stand out in that battle is clarity; not to be confused with brightness!
So starting with the Voyager's controls set at 12:00, you have a moderate amount of gain going for a nice crunch tone. The pedal responds well to different guitars and pickups, it allows the tone of the guitar to come through. Flicking thru pickup positions, you will notice that the pedal has a nice high mid/treble content that allows bridge pickups to have a nice spank without being too bright and neck pickups to have the right amount of clarity. The tone control has a good range to fine tune the pedal to fit your guitar and amp. Turn up the gain on the pedal and you will get into classic rock territory with humbuckers. It is not a high gain pedal, it has a moderate amount of gain! The tone will smooth out a bit but it retains the clarity. Even with the tone control fully off, it is not muddy, dark sounding yes but no tonal schmear.
After these tests, I had high hopes for the Voyager to perform well when used as a boost. And there was no need for disappointment at all. In fact, using this pedal as an overdrive is somewhat selling it short. It certainly sounds great and has a very nice crunch tone. However, I feel that this pedal is an outstanding booster. I tried hard to find a situation where it did not deliver as a booster but it was just excellent. Boost pedals often put their own tonal footprint on your tone and your guitars and amps will start to sound the same. This is a good thing if that pedal nails the tone you want. The Voyager, far more than others, lets the tone of your guitar and amp come thru. Yes, even with high amounts of gain, you will notice that it works it magic and the clarity it brings to the table is marvelous. I wouldn't say it is a transparent pedal but the way it changes your tone ever so slightly is just right. It seems to tickle the right frequencies to make your tone stand out.
When I try a new pedal, I sometimes find myself “loosing” several hours testing it. This is a good sign, just me, a guitar and an amp and hours of fun. The Voyager managed to pull this trick not once but several times. Yes, it is THAT good!
- More info: Walrus Audio Voyager