Take a spin in an ambient washing machine.
The Meris website describes the Polymoon as a “mathematical dream state.” That description might not pass muster in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, but in essence, it’s true.
The Polymoon produces everything from simple slapback delay to dizzyingly complex and animated echo clouds. It’s an inspiring tool for ambient/textural players. The sound quality is stunning, thanks in part to 24-bit A/D convertors and 32-bit floating-point processing.
Washing Machine in a One-Note Wonderland
One of the pedal’s goals, says the manufacturer, is mimicking the sound of cascaded hardware delays. That is, not just sustaining echoes, but submitting them to successive rounds of delay. When you have a complex web of closely spaced echoes, it starts to sound like reverb because, well, that’s what reverb is.
One way to evaluate a digital delay/reverb is by listening closely to the effect’s final decay. Graininess is easiest to detect when levels get low. Here, the echoes fade into silence with gorgeous detail and clarity.
Even though the delay time maxes out at out 1.2 seconds, the ambient sound clouds can seem to drift forever via cascading and regeneration. Factor in a dimension control that smears delay attacks, and you get sounds you’d expect from a pedal with “reverb” or “freeze” in its name.
You can generate ridiculously complex textures from ridiculously simple input. Just a note or two can trigger long, lush, washes. Someone with no guitar skills whatsoever could simply pluck a string and create something lovely.
These sounds are stupendous in stereo. Yes, you can get cool sounds within a standard mono signal chain, but damn, those wide images! I tracked the demo clip in stereo, connecting the Polymoon directly to an audio interface, and then using software amps.
The Polymoon also has a clever phaser/flanger. You can control its sweep by LFO or your playing dynamics. Polymoon isn’t a Mu-Tron III-style envelope filter, but its funky, dynamically responsive phaser sweeps sometimes make it feel like one. The LFO mode can subtly animate long washes, or unleash detuned cacophony. The tap-tempo switch sets the delay time and LFO speed.
You can craft your clouds in detail. A clever tilt EQ control darkens or brightens via a single knob. There are multiple LFO waveforms, from a gentle triangle to noisy frequency modulation. You can even assign separate waveforms to early and late delay taps.
With a controller pedal plugged into the Polymoon’s expression jack, you can assign different sounds to the toe and heel positions, and then morph between them. You can also use this jack to connect an external tap-tempo switch or receive MIDI messages. While Polymoon can store 16 patches in memory, you need a MIDI control device to recall them, or a compatible four-button footswitch to select from a single four-patch bank. You can’t access stored sounds solely from the pedal.
The Polymoon is nicely built inside and out. It runs on any standard 9-volt power supply. And it’s made in Los Angeles.
It may take a while before you can use the Polymoon’s controls intuitively. Yes, the controls do seem perfectly straightforward at first glance. But they’re not always so.Most of the Polymoon’s knobs and switches have triple functions. The functions printed on the pedal are one set. You hold a button when powering up to accesses another set of global controls (instrument/line levels, mono or stereo, and so on). Then there’s an entire set of “alt” parameters. Unlike the set-and-forget global functions, you need these controls to get the most from Polymoon. However, the alt function names don’t appear on the enclosure. You’ll have to memorize them, or consult the printed cheat sheet. I’d gladly swap some design cleanliness for better visual info on the pedal itself.
If you dig immersive ambient textures, you’ll probably love the Polymoon. The effect quality is stunning. The editing options are deep, clever, and musically inspiring. The build is solid, and the price is more than fair for a sophisticated U.S.-made pedal. But it may take a while to learn your way around—especially without key functions labeled on the enclosure. Patience is required, but amply rewarded.