Review of Sonuus Wahoo Pedal -
Want two analogue filters with masses of digital control in a
compact format, complete with an expression pedal? UK MIDI
specialist Sonuus has the very thing with its just launched, 'Best
of NAMM' nominated Wahoo pedal. Tom Quayle put one of the first
production samples through its paces.
Sonuus is a UK-based guitar technology company run by boffin Dr.
James Clark. Over recent years it has made a real stir in the world
of pitch recognition and conversion for guitar and bass
players, providing a compact and budget friendly solution for
entering the world of synths and sequencing. First shown at winter
NAMM 2012 where it was nominated for a 'Best of NAMM' award, the
Wahoo is the company's first effects pedal unit and represents a
few firsts within the industry.
The Wahoo is a dual analogue filter/wah stomp box where each
filter can be configured as low-pass or band-pass and operated
independently in wah pedal, envelope, LFO, and pitch-tracking
modes. Each filter features a true analogue design, similar to
those found in vintage synths, giving the Wahoo a warm organic feel
that is very hard to achieve with digital products.
The digital front end allows for masses of control, giving you a
huge spectrum of sounds from vocal formant filters, to envelope
controlled wahs, to sequenced filter sweeps. Sounds can be stored
in up to 100 user presets and the unit ships with 100 factory
sounds to show the potential that the Wahoo provides. Sonuus has
also packed in its pitch tracking technology, allowing for some
truly unique sounds that can be controlled with pitch recognition:
a first for a filter pedal.
Construction quality is very high, as the Wahoo is made from
aluminium, housing high quality electronic components and a unique
expression pedal design, featuring a brand new type of position
sensor that allows super-fine precision control with no mechanical
couplings. No potentiometers here or optical sensors that are
susceptible to dust and wear - in fact, Sonuus claim that the Wahoo
pedal will never become noisy and will never wear out!
In use the pedal is super smooth and precise, with just the
right range of travel for all of those fat filter and wah sounds.
On the front of the unit are the controls for storing presets,
editing filter sounds and assigning the control parameters using
envelopes, LFOs, onboard pedal and pitch tracking. Having this many
options on board allows for some truly expressive sounds that can
be dialled in with relative ease. That said, this is definitely not
a plug and play pedal. You'll probably want to read the manual a
few times, but in no way is it beyond the average user to program
and come up with some cool sounds. If you want to go deep though
you really can, with mind-boggling levels of parameter tweaking
outlined very nicely in the manual and editable with a very
intuitive user interface!
Round the back of the pedal you'll find basic ins and outs, plus
a USB port for utilising the impressive looking software editor
(MAC and PC compatible), MIDI control via DAWs and uploading
firmware updates. This means that the Wahoo can be updated via new
software releases, adding new features or effects, making it truly
future proof - a great asset. The software allows full control over
all parameters in a user-friendly interface, making editing as
painless as possible and allowing storage and uploading/sharing of
user patches. Finally, a lock switch allows the user to perform
without worrying about accidentally editing their settings by
locking all controls other than preset selection and the expression
The Wahoo can be powered via USB, four AA batteries or any
standard 9v power supply, although this is not included in the box,
something that is an oversight in this reviewer's opinion, but is
certainly not a deal breaker. True-bypass operation keeps your
signal intact when the pedal is off and it's surprising how quiet
this unit is even with a ton of filtering going on.
In use the Wahoo presents an amazing array of very inspiring
sounds that are all warm and fat without the blandness and tonal
thinning associated with many digital units. Running through the
100 factory presets can be a little daunting at first but they are
arranged in groups giving you access to each filter type and
controller function. A nice addition might have been a list of all
100 presets giving you some idea of how each sound was achieved,
but simply scrolling through each sound is a lot of fun! My
favourites were the very vocal sounds using the expression pedal to
move between multiple vowel sounds and the fantastically fat
envelope filters. If you can imagine a filter sound it can almost
certainly be achieved with the Wahoo!
The really great thing about the Wahoo is how inspirational the
sounds can be - I can fully imagine using some of these sounds to
write entire riffs or songs and after all, what else do we use
effects pedals for if not to inspire us to be more creative? In
this respect the Wahoo is highly successful and I very much
recommend that you check one out!
Check out the full review inc. video of the Sonuus Wahoo
Pedal by Tom Quayle in Issue 13 of Guitar Interactive (