Walrus Audio Polychrome review: An analogue flanger with a rich range of tones
The heady swirl of a flanger is something of a niche guitar effect – could this pedal of many colours convert the naysayers?
The latest addition to Oklahoma company Walrus Audio’s portfolio of cutting-edge stompboxes is the Polychrome Analog Flanger. Positively bristling with features inherited from the acclaimed Julia chorus and Lillian phaser, the Polychrome promises the impressive audio quality synonymous with the brand and comes complete with multicoloured lizard graphics. Of course it does.
The majority of guitarists perhaps regard flange as something of an occasional flavour, and the functionality offered by most analogue stompbox flangers is correspondingly limited. However, the Polychrome provides the user with the kind of options rarely experienced outside a digital or even laptop-based signal chain.
The control panel boasts five knobs. Rate and depth are for the LFO driving the flanger, while sweep shifts the frequency range to which filtering is applied, giving you a spectrum of sound from traditional to tight and chewy, to more extreme deep-flange textures. The feedback knob controls the amount of affected signal being cycled back through the circuit, and the more you add the wilder things are likely to become. We make a mental note to crank this one to full when we plug in. Finally there’s a Walrus calling card – a mysterious blend knob which labelled d-f-v for dry, flange and vibrato respectively.
Walrus has also sneaked in a pair of mini toggle switches: shape gives you a choice of sine, triangle or random LFO waveforms, whereas the voice switch toggles between a full-frequency flange and a notched flange with less bottom. While this is admittedly a lot of features to pack into one compact pedal, we’re not done yet. That is no ordinary footswitch – it’s a smart momentary bypass switch, which in bypass mode will keep the effect activated for as long as you keep your foot on it. How debonair!
There’s a characteristic richness to every Walrus Audio pedal we’ve encountered and the Polychrome is no exception. Yes, the sheer amount of tonal options on offer is impressive but they mean nothing without a good, or in this case excellent, core sound to build upon.
The main areas of interest of most flange-curious players will be in wobbly chords and/or jumbo jet takeoff whooshes. The Polychrome offers a cornucopia of these textures, from subtle shimmers to not subtle at all and almost ring-modulated madness.
In the life of a stompbox aficionado, it’s an increasingly rare occurrence to be able to say, “I’ve never heard this before”. Yet these words left our lips on several occasions, including one particularly glorious experience when we could discern upper partial harmonics sliding into fleeting moments of feedback during an arpeggiated chord sequence like they had a life of their own. If your flange needs veer towards the basic you may feel this is overkill, but we would recommend the Polychrome to even the most casual user. Once again the Walrus team have given us something new and delicious to explore.
- PRICE £179
- DESCRIPTION Analogue flanger pedal, made in the USA
- CONTROLS Rate, depth, sweep, feedback, dry-flange-vibrato blend knobs, shape and voice mini toggles
- FEATURES Soft switch relay bypassing, 9V DC mains power only (50mA minimum)
- DIMENSIONS 115 x 66 x 59mm
- CONTACT face.be, walrusaudio.com