WMD Acoustic Trauma Pedal Review
October 20, 2010
Outside the box distortion tones for those who like to experiment
|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.|
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.
Street $299 - WMD Instrument Effects - wmdevices.com
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