||Download Example 1
DI Industrial distortion
||Download Example 2
Telephone-line thin distortion
||Download Example 3
Sweeping through EQ
|Godin Redline HB for all samples. DI into Pro Tools for clip 1, clip 2 and 3 into Axe-FX ultra set to clean Bogner Shiva sound with Royer R-121 on Celestion V30s.
Most every pedal built by Colorado-based WMD is designed on the principle
that a device should be as versatile as possible. It’s a cool philosophy
that makes every WMD pedal a tool of impressive creative potential.
And the aptly named Acoustic Trauma analog distortion stompbox—
which can generate everything from mellow preamp overdrive to seriously
sick sonic damage—is a beautiful embodiment of the company’s
ambition in the form of a wide-ranging distortion/overdrive device.
Built to Tweak
At first glance, the WMD can seem a little daunting. A total of 17 knobs
are arrayed across the face of the black box, which is adorned with red-and-white punkified graphics and control names written in typewriter
font. The input, output, and 18VDC inputs (the Acoustic Trauma ships
with a power supply) are located on the right side of the unit, adjacent
to a true-bypass switch and red LED indicator.
Because the unit is built around two preamps—Cool and Hot—there
are Gain and Level controls for each on the upper left. Just below
these is a Preamp Blend knob for mixing the two preamp signals.
Most of the pedal’s upper right area is occupied by a unique, fully
parametric, 3-band EQ. Each band features a center-frequency knob,
a “Q” control that adjusts the filter’s sharpness and resonance, and
gain knob. There are also knobs for Gate Threshold, Noise Reduction,
and Output Volume.
Warm to Radical
Using a Les Paul, I plugged the Audio Trauma into my Marshall Super
Bass, as well as directly into Pro Tools. In both environments, the preamps
could be a little hard and grainy sounding, though by dialing the
Blend knob for as much Cool Preamp signal as possible and rolling off
the volume on my Les Paul, the tone cleaned up nicely.
This is not the case when cranking up the Hot Preamp, which dishes out
far more gain than you’ll ever need—even to the point of overloading
on itself and achieving a very cool, but out-of-control clipping effect.
But some of the coolest tones come from blending clean and dirty
signals from the two Preamps and taking advantage of the frequency
cancellation that happens as a byproduct of the filtering.
The EQ is a thing of beauty. It has a fairly extreme range—more like
a mixing console than a pedal—that spans frequencies from 40 Hz to
15 kHz. Turning up the resonance with the Q knob and diming the
High Band’s gain turned the pedal into a sonic weapon, summoning
everything from whistling feedback sounds to intensely abrasive and
ear-piercing screams. The EQ’s Low Band can pump out massive sounds
that are both punishing and satisfying. It’s easy to crank out enough low
end to justify firing your bassist.
Though the Acoustic Trauma is well suited to the digital environment
of direct Pro Tools recording, it was most at home in front of the Super
Bass, which rounded out the tone and coaxed milder and more manageable
distortion tones from the pedal.
One thing to note is that all controls have a very wide throw, so if you
bump a knob slightly, you can drastically change the sound you’ve carefully
dialed in. And while some players who switch settings on the fly might
consider such sensitivity a negative, I found myself constantly exploring the
virtually limitless variations of the Acoustic Trauma’s basic sonic fingerprint.
While the Acoustic Trauma is capable of some very rich—even warm—distortion tones, this beast from WMD is designed for going against the
grain. It can be a mighty weapon for the sonically adventurous player.
And while there’s a learning curve to go with the impressive array of
tone controls, in the end, the Acoustic Trauma is a very sensitive and
flexible pedal. The only thing missing in the box is a voucher for a free
tetanus shot—because yes, it can be that filthy.
you’re into sonic decimation and out-of-the
ordinary experimental distortion.
gain and tone knobs are all you need in
a distortion unit.