When we use the term “chameleon-like,” we’re normally referring to something that fits into many different surroundings. But let’s consider the transformation process: Have you ever watched a chameleon change colors? It’s totally psychedelic. You could take a still photo and see that within each shift, there are many subtle variations, each of which are awesome. Now, imagine if this process were a guitar tone and you’ll probably have a good idea what the Walrus Audio Polychrome flanger sounds like—solid modulation tones that sit comfortably within their surroundings while shifting in trippy, immersive, fun ways.
Shape and Soak Your Tone
The Polychrome’s all-analog design gives users plenty of control for sculpting flange tones. The rate knob goes from extraordinarily slow to ridiculously fast. The depth and sweep controls are interactive and require practice to properly fine-tune, but ultimately yield tight, focused tones. The feedback control can be quite subtle or really drench your sound. A 3-way shape switch allows you to select between sine wave, triangle wave, or a random LFO wave. I enjoyed all of them, though I generally stuck with the most predictable options. A 2-way voice switch selects between a wide frequency range and a mid-focused notched sound. A dry-flange-vibrato blend control—labeled “D-F-V”—goes from completely dry to completely wet. At some totally soaked settings, I perceived a little volume drop, but the effect is still totally usable. The soft-relay switch, by the way, features momentary functionality when you hold it down. Jacks are top-mounted.
“At slower rates and high feedback settings, I discovered a gooey, underwater- sounding version of the old whooshing jet-flange effect that was the Polychrome’s most warped and unique sound.”
Plenty of Floyd and Sco, Fewer Airplanes
While the Polychrome offers a wide pallete of sounds, it excels at subtlety. Rather than just favor the noisy, brutish airplane sounds I associate with the flangers of my youth, this pedal excels at adding a warm neon glow without ever getting harsh. Once you get the hang of the controls, you can summon just about any flanger tone you could want, as well as excellent phaser- and chorus-like tones.
With so much range in each of the controls, it’s no surprise that I worked primarily within the middle-range of the rate, depth, and sweep knobs. There, I found Gilmour-style goodness that shone like a crazy diamond. At slower rates and high feedback settings, I discovered a gooey, underwater-sounding version of the old whooshing jet-flange effect that was the Polychrome’s most warped and unique sound. I could easily imagine zoning out on this vibe all day long. At the other end of the rate knob, hip ’90s-Scofield faux-Leslie-style tones had me clinking out funky ii-V chord vamps to no end. If funky organ jazz was my gig, I’d have this on constantly.
If you’re looking for a modulation pedal that delivers everything from subtle always-on style tones to totally submerged flange sounds, the Polychrome covers it all. The pedal’s analog circuit offers plenty of organic warmth and extensive control. Sure, it eschews some of the noisier sounds of classic flangers, but I’d argue that the extra flexibility means you’ll probably use it more often than your old jet-whooshing standby.
Walrus Audio Polychrome Demo – First Look
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