Digital-control-enabled features makes Walrus’s already immersive modulation machine a scalpel for carving precise waveforms.

 

Ratings

Pros:
Many bold and subtle variations on vibrato and chorus textures that facilitate precise modulation shaping. Powerful, sensitive, and interactive controls.

Cons:
Tap tempo switch is very close to bypass switch if you don’t use external tap switch.

Street:
$249

Walrus Audio Julianna
walrusaudio.com


Tones:


Ease of Use:


Build/Design:


Value:
 

My younger, more reactionary self used to think of chorus as a chilly, artificial effect. These days I have a lot more appreciation for how much life chorus can bring to the simplest musical surroundings.

I spent a lot of time testing the new Walrus Julianna chorus and vibrato during a chilly, rainy week, when not much of anything sounded good to my weary ears. But plugging in the Julianna, turning up the depth, and exploring the pedal’s fun and intuitive controls well and truly cut through the fog—enlivening basic folk-rock chord sequences and elevating them to something much more grand.

Fashion and the times aside, it’s little wonder that so many U.K. bands rooted in folk-rock, like the Cocteau Twins and Smiths, embraced chorus back in the ’80s. It has a way of coaxing blue sky from the dreariest songs (and grayest English skies) without stripping a bit of what makes them haunting in the first place. I have little doubt that Johnny Marr or the Cocteau’s Robin Guthrie would love the way the Walrus Julianna walks that line.

Sisters of the Sea
The Julianna is a more feature-rich evolution of the Julia analog chorus and vibrato. One of the most fundamental differences between the Julia and the Julianna is the latter’s introduction of digital LFO control, which leaves the analog modulation circuit more or less unfettered, but enables the addition of tap tempo, wave shape selection, an awesome drift control that automatically varies the modulation speed, a ramping function that generates Leslie-like accelerations and weirder fare, and tap division controls. The Julianna may not look worlds more complex than the Julia, but the musical possibilities are more expansive.

Just like the Julia, the Julianna has controls for rate and depth, and another cool modulation-shaping control called lag that shifts the modulation wave’s center to achieve extra-woozy textures at high depth levels and even convincing, organic, 12-string-like sounds at lower depth and lag levels. The other less-conventional dial is a dry/wet ratio control labeled d-c-v (dry-chorus-vibrato) that enables cool blends between dry and chorused tones or chorused and vibrato tones.

Dry/chorus blends can be a bonanza in the studio when you’re trying to get that just-right touch of subtle animation without sacrificing note clarity.

There aren’t zillions of blended shades on tap, but drier dry/chorus blends can be a bonanza in the studio when you’re trying to get that just-right touch of subtle animation without sacrificing note clarity, and vibrato-heavy blends can really color a chorus tone and add demented movement to fuzz solos. Julianna adds an awesome second function to the d-c-v knob, though. When you run the pedal with stereo output (which I highly recommend), the d-c-v knob splits and blends the chorus, dry, and vibrato signals in various combinations to generate wet, widescreen modulation.

The Digital Depths
The Julianna’s two most obvious digitally-enabled features, the wave shape control and tap tempo-with-subdivisions, aren’t knock you-over-the-head, mind-blowing additions, at least in terms of sonic shock. But they are very effective for shaping your modulation in very specific ways—a task the Julianna excels at in general.

Differences between the wave shapes can seem subtle at low depth settings—particularly between the sine and triangle waves. At more pronounced depth settings, however, you clearly hear the differences and their respective musical merits. The sine wave setting is softer around the edges and sounds more expansive and airy. The triangle wave setting is much more focused, with perceptible peaks that seem especially responsive to high-mid frequencies. Put a fuzz or overdive in front of the pedal at this setting, crank up the rate, and add a generous dollop of lag, and you can get a very cool, Leslie-fied twist on the Jimi-with-Uni-Vibe sound that will slice through a dense mix. The random wave setting, meanwhile, adds strong hits of tape wobble that can be accentuated to very cool ends by the lag control. The drift function, which is enabled by holding down the bypass, contributes even more woozy randomness by automatically varying the speed between settings you determine with the depth control. Combined with vibrato-heavy settings, it can be spectacularly queasy.

The Verdict
The Julianna isn’t merely versatile as a modulator. It sometimes feels like a surgical tool for adding chorus and vibrato to your signal in very specific ways. It’s simple enough that you can use this sound-tailoring power on stage without risking calamity. But I suspect the Julianna will really shine in the studio, where this wealth of rich modulation colors, and the power to hone them to fit in a mix just right, could make it a go-to wave-making machine.

Watch our First Look demo:


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