Walrus Audio Mako M1 review – A stunning collection of modulation in one stompbox
Could Walrus Audio’s compact multi-mode modulation box be the all-in-one answer to your biggest pedalboard dilemma?
Walrus’s Mako Series has quickly established itself as a big fish in the digital stompbox aquarium – and the latest offering in the line is this, the M1 High-Fidelity Modulation Machine. Like the other Mako models it’s packing a bunch of modes in one unit, and in this case that means six very different flavours of modulation: chorus, phaser, tremolo, vibrato, rotary and filter.
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Selected via the colourful switch in the middle, each of the effects has an abundance of effortlessly tweakable options – including storing your favourites in nine easy-access preset slots, expandable to a more-than-copious 128 with MIDI.
The depth and rate controls on this unit are self-explanatory; but with three variations of each main effect on offer, the ‘tweak’ and ‘tune’ knobs take on a range of diverse options depending on the chosen model.
And arguably the best bit, if you’re still a bit of a digi-sceptic, is the intriguing ‘lo-fi’ dial. This is essentially a global mix control for six tweakable parameters that can be applied to any effect, governing drive, envelope control, warble, age, noise and even an ambience-enhancing reverb labelled ‘space’ – very much taking this pedal into new sonic territory.
Dual-use footswitches, a microUSB socket for future firmware updates, MIDI in and thru plus stereo in/outs round out a remarkably full feature set for a compact stomper.
Snuggling up between a Strat and an old tweed Deluxe, the M1 wastes no time in unleashing a sonic smorgasbord of modulation delights – from familiar classic tones to otherworldly oddities. Flipping the A/B/C bank switch and stepping on both footswitches simultaneously is the best way to start, as this scrolls through the nine factory presets to get a great overview of the M1’s abilities.
‘Versatile’ can be an overused adjective in describing guitar effects, but surely Walrus has redefined the term with the astoundingly wide gamut of beautiful wide-screen sonics available here.
Highlights include the sumptuously warm tri-chorus, full of watery depth and detail; and the amp-like tremolo, which ranges from traditional amplitude waves to buttery harmonic quivers and stuttering synthy patterns. Warm, soupy two-stage and four-stage phasers evoke 70s tones aplenty, while the brilliantly wobblesome Uni-Vibe – especially in stereo – will spin and warp your tone around the room in a deliciously addictive manner. The rotary tones are equally superb for those of us who can’t quite fit a real Leslie cabinet on our pedalboard, and the vibrato modes add everything from a subtle Bigsby-esque shimmer to full-on grungey wobble.
Any complaints at all? Well, while the filter effects are fun (if perhaps less obviously useful than the others), we would have preferred some more universally guitar-friendly flanger sounds to really complete the set.
While the M1’s intuitive UI means getting great sounds straight out the box is an easy and highly gratifying task, it’s worth delving deeper into the manual as many of the controls have second functions and there are some nice surprises for experimentalists. Hours if not days can be lost roaming through all these eclectic lo-fi sonic textures.
Would the M1 replace a huge, expensive board full of analogue classics – or even a real Leslie if we could afford one? Possibly not if we’re being purist about it; but for sheer tonal breadth and ease of use in such a brilliantly compact form factor, the M1 is pretty much peerless.
- PRICE £319
- DESCRIPTION Stereo digital multi-mode modulation pedal
- CONTROLS Rate, depth, lo-fi, tweak, tune, six-way mode dial; toggle switches for shape/division/type/envelope/drive/space, tone/symmetry/X/age/noise/warble and preset bank A/B/C, two multi-mode footswitches
- FEATURES 9 preset slots, 128 via MIDI; stereo in and outs, MIDI in and thru, microUSB for firmware updates; powered by 9V power supply only (300mA minimum)
- DIMENSIONS 125 x 64 x 99mm
- CONTACT walrusaudio.com