TWA MM-01 MiniMorph Review
An envelope overdrive that can go from filthy fuzzy to faux Moog filter freakouts.
Wide range of wacky, ear-perking sounds. High-quality build. Great dynamic sensitivity.
Envelope sensitivity fast exposes poor technique. Some learning curve.
Totally Wicked Audio MM-01 MiniMorph
Ease of Use:
Totally Wycked Audio, more commonly known as TWA, describes the MiniMorph (which is derived from its larger brother, the DynaMorph) as an “envelope dependent drive” and “dynamic waveshaper.” And just as these names suggest, the MiniMorph, with its dual cascading preamps, is much more than just a dirt box with a few extra textures.
In fact, MiniMorph is its own instrument in many respects. And because input level determines the characteristics of the overdrive and saturation, your playing dynamics–even your pick angle–will significantly impact how the pedal reacts. The results span the gamut from filthy fuzzy to faux Moog filter freakouts.
The MiniMorph’s relatively simple control panel hints at the unusual sounds within but reveals little about how kooky and dynamic it can get. Drive, gain, and level controls behave more or less as they would in an overdrive pedal–apart from the fact they determine the reactivity of a filter that can mangle your signal in very un-overdrive-like ways. The output is also shaped by the morph knob, which regulates how much distorted effect is present. The dry knob controls the amount of dry signal that’s blended in.
There are “normal” dirt sounds to be found in MiniMorph depending on how you approach it. For example, if I picked lightly with drive at 1 o’clock, level at 9 o’clock, gain at 2 o’clock, dry at 7 o’clock, and morph at 1 o’clock, I got many relatively clean sounds. But it didn’t take too much additional picking intensity before the pedal took on a brassy, ’80s synth-like timbre. And depending on my attack and pick angle, bending high notes yielded everything from wah-type sounds to lo-fi synth rumbles to acid-fried Hendrix octave-fuzz. If I held long notes, wavering siren-like tones appeared as the note decayed, but with more intensity than the oscillations in amplifier feedback. If I hit the strings really hard, things got very unpredictable, with chaotic sputtering being the dominant sound.
The MiniMorph is sensitive to volume attenuation. And if I lowered my guitar’s volume knob by half and repeated the same steps, I could still get a range of dynamic envelope-activated sounds. And while the volume-attenuated effects were less intense, they were much easier to control, inspiring ideas about how MiniMorph could work in otherwise conservative musical settings that require just a peppering of chaos.
With most of the controls south of their mid-point settings, MiniMorph is easier to tame. And you can readily create sounds that could stand in for, say, a blues solo if you want to throw a twist at an otherwise straightforward phrase. But even at these more subdued levels, the MiniMorph is still sensitive to dynamic shifts. And if I applied considerable picking force, I could still summon many of the fuzzed out, brassy sounds you hear at advanced settings.
A lot of pick-hand control is required if you want to utilize MiniMorph’s dynamic potential consistently. Learning to walk the fine line between clean tones and synthy filtered glitch takes time—especially if you’re unfamiliar with envelope-based effects. And if you have a high opinion of your technique and picking precision, the MiniMorph can quickly bring you down to Earth. Even the touch of your fretting hand will yield different sonic results. Forceful hammer-ons and pull-offs will result in drastically more aggressive tones. Careful picking and fretting technique, however, can be the ticket to many unique musical experiences.
The MiniMorph is the rare pedal that genuinely brings new sounds to the table. Like its big brother, it’s not subtle. Nor is it meant to be. If your tone needs range from psychedelic Sabbath fuzz to Space Invaders, the MiniMorph is like a magical ring of power. But even if you just need the occasional drastic shift within otherwise conventional contexts, the MiniMorph delivers with style.