The spirit of the CE-1 and CE-2 live on in a MN3207 chip -driven chorus and vibrato that moves in rich, rippling waves.
Behold, The Fates! Inspired by the Japanese Chorus pedals of yesteryear, The Fates is the first modulation pedal by Mythos.
Utilizing the iconic MN3207 chip, this BBD Analog Chorus has all the swirly tones you'd expect from those classic 80's units. We wanted to put our spin on that iconic sound and create an homage that lived up to the Mythos standard. The Fates features finely tuned Rate and Depth controls so that you have the most musical range of sounds. We added Vibrato mode that turns off the clean mix portion of the Chorus but didn’t stop with just that simple mod. The Vibrato mod has been finely tuned to shift select components so that it does not have that extreme warble from the depth pot. Both the Chorus and Vibrato modes will run the gamut of swirly shimmer to rotary speaker like vibes.
The Fates features a JFET buffered bypass/input stage which helps keeps the noise down but also helps push the signal. This JFET stage gives you a sweet output bump and EQ voicing that plays well with both clean and driven sounds. On the face of the unit is Rate LED that will flash in relation to the Rate setting. This Analog Chorus is not for those who want presets, infinite controls, and other modern feature sets. The Fates is for the player who wants to plug in and enjoy the simplicity of iconic Chorus tones with ease.
So many varied ways to phase for days.
Sweet, distinct phase voice. Resonance, mix, range, and volume controls expand tone-shaping possibilities significantly. High quality.
Spaceman effects tend to be cherished, treasured, and, in some cases, driven to insane resale market prices because they reliably sound fantastic. But Spaceman pedals are also rare creatures. And even its most popular pedals tend to come and go—often disappearing before real players can beat collectors to the punch. The analog, 6-stage optical Explorer phaser, however, is the unusual Spaceman pedal that is reappearing in the wild after a hiatus. It returns in a more compact enclosure. But this time out the Explorer offers access to six additional waveforms that build on an already expansive modulation vocabulary.
Not So Simply Red
I love one-knob phasers. They are a sure-fire means to mindless fun, and one less thing to worry about when drifting off amid some psychedelic-jam reverie. That mindlessness comes at a cost, of course. A classic Small Stone or Phase 90 tends to sound just like it’s supposed to and little more. So while you can extract everything from rotary speaker sounds to staccato pitch shifting with such a circuit, they’re usually imprinted with a specific voice and phase coloration—what you hear is what you get.
The Explorer brushes aside those constraints in very cool fashion. For starters, the mix control helps you render the phase effect nearly subliminal. That enables you to use pretty extreme phase voices in low-key ways—a beautiful means to apply the effect to add motion in a spare mix. The Explorer also comes with an output volume control. This means you can overcome any perceived volume loss when using intense waveforms. But it also gives your signal a slight—and slightly dirty—bump even when the effect mix is low. The volume gives you options in that direction, too. And although there probably won’t be hordes of players dying to use the Explorer at less than unity gain, the ability to do so opens up interesting arrangement possibilities in which you can move from straight-ahead clean passages to quieter effected chapters in a song without missing a beat. It also gives you a means to mate the Explorer more easily to an unruly or unpredictable fuzz.
The Explorer’s wave-shaping options are abundant and powerful. The rate control generally falls in line with most classic analog phasers in terms of range—moving from molasses sweeps to insectile stutters. Resonance, of course, adds vowelly emphasis to the waveforms. Its effect is strong enough that I tended to leave it in a modest 8 to 10 o’clock range. But it can also help put a phase over the top in a crowded effects mix and help add rhythmic emphasis. The Explorer’s range control is, perhaps, the hidden gem. There’s nothing magical about it. It’s essentially a filter that enables you to thin out or add a low-end bump to the signal. But the extra low end can be a beautiful sweetening agent with slower phase rates (which get chewier and dreamier with more low end) and gives you extra wiggle room for tailoring the Explorer to different guitars, amps, and effects in your chain.
The extra low end can be a beautiful sweetening agent with slower phase rates.
The Explorer isn’t the only contemporary phaser with the option for multiple waveforms. But there is something about the essential sweetness and clarity of its voice that makes the differences among these wave types feel more distinct. The sine wave is smooth-snaky and sounds dreamy at slow rates and sitting low in the wet/dry mix. Ramp-up and ramp-down waves have a pronounced “reset” pulse at the peak of each wave that tends to reinforce certain rhythm-based approaches. Triangle generates pretty, precise, and steady heartbeat pulses that make lots of room for picking detail at dryer mix levels, but it also sounds awesome at more stroboscopic rates and higher intensities. The square wave at a 50-precent rate and with a healthy heap of low end from the range control is another favorite—and with the resonance just right, you can get a very bubbly auto-wah effect. The alternate phase patterns, which are accessed by powering up while holding down the footswitch, are all worth investigating as well. And the arpeggiated phases, in particular, are especially cool—lending textures that evoke everything from bouncing ball bearings to tinkling glockenspiels.
The Explorer often distinguishes itself by living at a cool intersection of organic and mechanical precision pulses and sounds. But the abundant tone-shaping options mean you can fine tune these tone crossovers like a surgeon. It’s fun, too. The right sound rarely feels out of reach or impossible on the Explorer, so the search seldom feels like work. For anyone that has suffered the limitations of 1-knob phasers but been intimidated by more complex alternatives, there are a lot of cool compromises here. The Explorer is expensive. But it’s a high-quality U.S.-made pedal that reflects a lot of thought and experience. It may just tempt you to sell the rest of the phasers in your collection, too—a smart, constructive way to offset the cost, if you ask me.
Smart interface design makes exploring traditional modulation tones and deeply tweaked sounds an intuitive joy.
Gazillions of possible modulation tones from trad’ to bizarre. Well-designed interface. Rich basic sounds. Easy to use in conventional settings.
Some study required to maximize pedal potential. Some weirder lo-fi sounds betray digital artifacts.
Walrus Audio Mako M1
Depending on your appetite for adventure, the Walrus Audio M1 modulation machine can look like a thrill ride or a very nasty little thing. The knobs and switches—as well as the graphics and text that describe their function—are packed like sardines onto the face of the pedal. And depending on your settings, the two bright LEDs can pulse like an entire Fillmore liquid light show stuffed into two little fish eyes.
If simplicity is your muse for the moment, M1 might not be the best travelling pal. But before you move on too fast, plug the M1 in. Twist any one of those knobs any direction you’d like and play a simple D chord. My guess is that, as terrifying as the M1 might look, it’ll take just that one strum to hook you. Because the M1 is fun. Lots of fun. And even if you never use its deep and impressive sound-crafting tools to fullest potential, the M1’s sounds and smart design still make it a cornucopia of easy-to-source, immersive modulations.
Walrus Audio Mako M1 Review by premierguitar
- Three chorus voices: Traditional, dual chorus, and tri-chorus, each played at various depth and rate settings with occasional tweaks to lo-fi and tone settings.
- Three vibrato voices: Traditional vibrato, vinyl record, tape vibrato, and pattern tremolo each played at various depth and rate settings with occasional tweaks to lo-fi and tone settings.
- Three tremolo voices: traditional tremolo, harmonic tremolo, and pattern tremolo each played at various depth and rate settings with occasional tweaks to lo-fi and tone settings.
Damn the Navigation Aids! Full Speed Ahead!
I could spend most of the space in this review describing the primary and secondary functions governed by the M1’s 11 switches, knobs, and toggles (not to mention the stereo I/O, MIDI in/thru jacks, and a USB jack for firmware updates). But the M1 is deep enough that the job is best left to the thorough, downloadable manual available on the Walrus web site. This excellent piece of documentation is worth cruising even before you buy the M1 to see if the deeper functions merit your investment. However, if you choose to take the plunge and explore M1 as intuitively as possible, the manual is a well-written map for your trip through modulation wonderland. Should you meander too far from the trail, it’ll likely get you back on track fast.
At the M1s core are six modulation voices. Chorus, phase, tremolo, vibrato, and rotary speaker sounds are all represented along with a modulated filter setting. Each voice spans pretty and demented sounds, and each is full of surprises. In their most traditional incarnations, the digital emulations of analog effects are beautifully accurate and replete with rich overtone detail. Secondary functions abound on the M1 and making the most of them really does require some study of the manual. But one of the best things about the M1’s designs is that if you get into the weeds with these secondary functions, it’s generally easy to get back on track using the pedal’s rate and depth modes, which lends a sense that it’s OK to proceed fearlessly.
Even in small measures, many of the lo-fi sounds can shape straightforward modulation in very cool ways.
Diving for Pearls
If and when you do get the courage to explore M1’s deeper possibilities, there’s much to enjoy. The primary path to this deeper functionality comes via the tweak and tune knobs and their associated switches. Both controls change function depending on what you select with the switch below. Tweak enables you to choose between sine, triangle, and square waveshapes; quarter-note, triplet, and eighth-note tap divisions (there are a wealth of subtle rhythmic textures here); or one of three modes for each basic program. These modes include tri-chorus in chorus mode, different horn/drum virtual miking configurations in rotary mode, tape- and warped-vinyl-inspired vibratos, harmonic tremolo, and high, low, and bandpass filters in the filter program, just to name a few. On the tune side, the 3-way switch enables the knob to be configured for adjustments to tone, wave symmetry, or “X” functions that include everything from stereo phase effects to phaser feedback and tape flutter. Should you start to worry about losing your place as you get into these deeper realms, remember that the M1 has the capacity for nine onboard presets (easily accessed using the A/B/C bank switch and the two footswitches in concert) and 128 total presets via MIDI.
Yet another realm of tone possibilities lives in the lo-fi strata of functionality. Accessing these functions on the fly is a little more cumbersome as they require selecting a function via the 3-way switch, holding down the bypass footswitch, and then using the tweak or tune knob to add the lo-fi element to taste. Not all these functions will serve all players. A lot of them tend toward the noisy, junky, and weird side of the sound spectrum. But even in small measures, many of the lo-fi sounds, like age, space (reverb), drive, and noise, can shape straightforward modulation in very cool ways. Once set up it’s easy to mix in these textures with the lo-fi knob. Don’t be afraid to set up highly weird sounds and add them incrementally.
One of the M1’s great achievements is that it can serve two muses—the obsessive, micro-level sound designer, and the reckless, intuitive sound tripper—simultaneously. This is no insignificant thing. And Walrus deserves praise for accomplishing this design feat in a compact stompbox. But the highest praise may be due for Walrus’s ability to make M1 so much fun and so sonically satisfying. And Walrus’s ability to walk this engineering and design tightrope makes the otherwise steep-looking $349 price a relative bargain.