The Waveformer Destroyer is the latest deceptively simple offering from Brooklyn-based mad scientists Death by Audio. With Oliver Ackermann at its helm, since the beginning of the boutique boom, Death by Audio has been at the forefront of providing strange, new and interesting offerings by way of thinking outside the box and not being afraid to get a little messy. The Waveformer Destroyer is the latest in their line of sonic weirdness—it’s a combination fuzz, filter, boost, and “blast” pedal, with one master volume knob to control it all. Let’s get fuzzy.
The Waveformer Destroyer is quite a unique pedal with a unique sound, look, and operation. It has four switches on the front, and one Master volume knob. The graphics are reminiscent of DBA’s other pedals; and utilize a scientific/technical sort of look, with an image of a clipped sound wave at the bottom. The pedal has four circuits, which are not independent, meaning you can’t use the filter or boost on your clean tone, which is a shame because could have sounded lovely. Engaging the pedal by itself gave me a basic distortion tone, with a nice low-mid growl. Stomping on the Boost opens up the tone, and instead of having a low-mid emphasis it gave it a lift in all the frequencies, making it sound more full-range. The Filter scooped out all of the mids, turning the tone into a fuzz-faced war hammer. The Blast sent the distortion smashing through my signal with reckless abandon. It utterly destroyed everything and sent the pedal into clipping; so much so my speakers and amp couldn’t handle it. Admittedly, I am playing mostly at bedroom levels, and I imagine you are going to need a very high headroom amp to make this setting sound good. Experimenting with different combinations of the switches yielded some interesting results. I found my favorite to be the combination of Boost and Filter, so much so that I nicknamed this tone “The Great Wall,” reminiscent of a certain expansive wall in Asia. Adding some digital delay, this tone can seemingly go on for miles, and it sounds positively colossal. Under the surface of the pedal is a myriad of DIP switches, two for each circuit, which makes this a tweaker’s heaven.
The Engage circuit can be adjusted to clip clean and reduce gain, or make the pedal have an “extreme sound,” in DBA’s own words. The Boost can either let only high frequencies enter and no transistor limiting, or do a full frequency boost with an additional bass booster. The filter can be adjusted to a twin-T notch EQ setting, or an even deeper notch (the deep notch can sound thin at some settings). It can also shift the center frequency or keep it normal. The Blast section can either be adjusted to use clipping diodes and correct biasing, or full gain and “crazy intense.” You can mix and match all of these settings as much as you want, and the handy guide Death by Audio provides with the pedal goes into further detail, and even provides some presets for you to try. They went the extra mile as well by providing “analog preset save,” or empty templates you can color in to save your own favorite settings. This pedal is the definition of set-it-and-forget-it, for easy stage operation, and can offer a cornucopia of different settings and responses available for more experimental sessions.
By the way, if you are a Death by Audio fan, I highly recommend reading the interview Tape Op did a few months ago with its CEO, Oliver Ackermann. It gives you a very interesting look into the origins of this very DIY, hands-on sort of company that is almost the template for the boutique market today, as well as giving you some insight into the design and the philosophy behind these pedals.
What We Like: Dead-simple operation with many different tones on tap. Untamed and wild, while maintaining musicality. Internal DIP switches add a ton of options for many different tastes.
Concerns: Other parts of circuit not independent from main distortion. More extreme settings need very high headroom amps to sound good.