The Pedal: Walrus Audio Voyager
The Point: Versatile boost and low to medium gain overdrive
The Cost: $189
The veritable three-knob overdrive pedal is back again this week. Last week I reviewed the CMAT Mods Butah, a low gain overdrive pedal that I thoroughly enjoyed. It was simple to dial in, and worked great. This week it’s the Walrus Audio Voyager. It’s finished in a unique pale green finish, with a cool “Voyager” graphic on it. It’s true bypass and easily powered by a 9v battery or almost any power supply. One might come to expect that these two lower gain overdrives might sound somewhat similar. Wrong, they sounded completely different.
The Tale of Two Pedals
In full disclosure, I’m a big fan and owner of another Walrus Audio pedal, the Mayflower. The Mayflower, for those not familiar with it, has separate controls for bass and treble, flat mids and a gain structure that goes from low gain to medium gain. It does not have a distinct sonic personality; rather, it blends in with your amp instead of changing it. I love it.
The Voyager and Mayflower also don’t sound anything alike. So what does the Voyager do differently? Well, it really is almost like two different pedals in one box. With the gain turned off and the volume up around noon or more, it has a warm, almost tube- like sound, very organic if I can use that cliché. The tone control will give you more treble if you need it, or reduce it for a somewhat thicker tone. Notes seem to bloom out of your amp. When you turn the pedal off, your tone might come off as somewhat flat sounding.
But the Voyager takes on an almost Jekyll and Hyde type personality with the gain turned up. Maybe it’s my amp, a Vox AC15 in this case, which is already somewhat middy sounding to begin with, but the Voyager added another layer of mids to my tone. And because of this, I seemed almost to lose some of my high end. And the bass, while not lacking, was again overshadowed by the midrange. Tweaking the tone control helped some, but the added mids still seemed to dominate the rest of my tone. I will go out on a limb here and say if you have certain Fender amps that are often characterized as having more of a scooped mids tone, the Voyager might be a welcome addition in giving you a more even, fuller tone.
Another reason the mids seem accentuated is because the gain structure is very uncompressed, and I was also surprised by how much gain the Voyager actually had. Even with the gain cranked, it remained uncompressed. Overall, the Voyager just has a very different character than either the Mayflower or the Butah. This isn’t a bad thing, either. Everyone has their preferences, and I generally like an overdrive that doesn’t boost the mids too much (nor do I like them very scooped either).
One More Trick
Lastly, I decided to try the Voyager as a stacking pedal. I really do like the Voyager on its own as a clean boost pedal. But when I stacked it with the Mayflower with the gain set around noon, the notes were richer, fuller, dirtier. On its own the Mayflower is fairly neutral sounding with more compression, but with the Voyager engaged, the added mids gave it more personality and made the combined pedals sound fuller and meatier. This was a lovely combo. In fact, having both of these pedals in one enclosure might be a great idea!
Unlike the CMAT Mods Butah from last week that was simple to use, the Voyager is a bit quirkier and it might take time for you to dial it in for what works best for your amp and different guitars. Be patient and try all combinations. Finally, you might want to try both Walrus Audio pedals, and see which one works best in your rig. But be warned, you might just end up keeping both.