By Jake Behr –
Review of: Adventure Audio Whateverb
Reviewed by: Jake BehrRating:4.5On April 14, 2017Last modified:April 14, 2017
Before the dual realities that I have virtually no hands-on electronics experience and extremely shaky hands had set in, it was a personal and far off dream of mine to build effects tailored to my exact guitar needs in the hopes that someday I could tailor effects to the needs of others. I haven’t quite given up the shadow of this dream, but I’m not salty about not having attained it yet either. There’s so much to appreciate about the effects market today that I can’t help but just be grateful for the people who invent the building blocks for the sounds we make, even if those people aren’t me. The collective consciousness that permeates the atmosphere of effects building is so strongly amplified by the Internet that I can practically have a fever dream about a particular sound or pedal concept and it’ll be available for purchase within months. If you need one example of a company making pedals that sound like distortion from the dream realm, check out Adventure Audio.
Adventure Audio is a relatively new pedal company founded in Philadelphia, PA and now based out of Rochester, NY, both harboring incredible music scenes, the latter of which being only about an hour and a half from where I live. Given my proximity, I can guess with some semblance of certainty that this builder has likely been sculpted by Central New York’s harsh winters and deep talent pool and inspired to develop products for the ultimate indoor past time: riffs. They’re only four pedals deep in their musical journey, but the pedals they’ve created so far aren’t just well-developed experimentations and variations on unexpected effects; they’re quickly earning their place as some of the highest quality and sonically inspired pieces available today. Also, judging only by the headshots on their “About me” page, I can already tell I want to be their friend. Their simple vision is to inspire the world, and that’s just what they’ve done with their latest release, the Whateverb. Guess what kind of effect it is!
- 5 knobs, with backlit LED trim pots for the Warp and Blend knobs (2 are variable control Knobs)
Blend controls the wet/dry blend
Decay determines the length of the reverb trail
Warp controls the pitch and overall potential length of the reverb
- 3 Voices:
This is a reverb with controls for the speed and depth of a flange effect.
That emulates room reverb with high and low-pass filter controls.
Otherb is a shimmer with controls over the dissonance and volume of the shimmer.
- Soft Touch Relay Bypass
- Top-Mounted Power and I/O
- Buffered Bypass
- 9V DC Power
The first thing you notice when you plug in the Whateverb is the fact the clear Blend and Warp trim pots illuminate a brilliant cool-white upon activation. That is one memorable way to say hello! The sparkling white chassis sports blue text and a light grey line pattern; for size reference, the Whateverb is about the size of standard EarthQuaker Devices’ pedals. There is a comically tall voicing switch in the center that controls the voices which I was initially afraid would break, but so far it’s proven to be very sturdy. The Buffered-Bypass nature of the Whateverb implies that the trails of the reverb will continue long after you have disabled it. This is a matter of taste for most guitarists, but I could see how some might want a switch to toggle between active and non-active post-bypass tails. Personally, I love letting my reverb trail die out naturally, so the lack of flexibility here means very little to me. Founder and facial hair doyen Christian Terjesen was originally inspired to build the Whateverb by the Roland Space Echo, which as we know is the industry-defining tape echo that has time and time again produced unique progeny in the pedals inspired by it. It seems there is still a little bit of juice, somehow exempt from the more derivative works that have cropped up in the past, to be wrung out of the Space Echo.
Check out Adventure Audio for more details about the Whateverb!
SOUND & PERFORMANCE:
Let’s dive into these voices.
On the left of the voice-select toggle we have This, which is a clean reverb paired with flangey chorus, or chorusy flange, depending on your perspective on which direction the tone leans. To my ear, it’s the former. The top left knob controls the depth of the modulation, which can range from non-existent to whistling. In this voicing the Warp knob seems to bear more control over the tonal nature of the chorus, as opposed to pitchshifting; though there is a just noticeable almost-pitchshift when we change the warp knob’s positioning, what I hear most are the peaks of the comb filter getting farther apart, essentially changing range of the Rate knob on the top right.
The center of the voicing switch opens the door to a room whose size is variable in accordance to your will via the Warp and Decay knob. Though That is the most tame of the three voices, it is still an amazingly lively space to be inside of, the depths of which I was eager to find. I was not left wanting. The High Tide and Low Tide knobs are high and low frequency controls to tweak the tone of the reverb, which sounds super rudimentary but actually makes for overtone-dense, beautifully spacious bliss. With the Warp set toward full-clockwise, I was rewarded with sweet slap-backy vibes that were made much more prominent with the High-tide cranked. The opposite configuration yielded massive, hall-like wash that was truly massive with the Low Tide cranked. Though that seems dichotomous, the Low Tide and High Tide actually work well together no matter how high you set one in relation to the other.
Welcome to… the Otherb. An atmospheric ‘board is not complete without a good Shimmer, and the pristine sonic crystals generated by this voicing push the Whateverb way past the threshold of “Good Shimmer.” The top left knob controls how thick the harmonies that are generated by the shimmer are; the top right knob controls how high the volume of the shimmer is. With the Shimmer knob maxed, the octaves are almost unbearable, but dialing the volume back makes this shrill keening not just tolerable, but a sonic tool to add to swells and sparse strumming. This voicing is where the Warp knob really shines; rolling clockwise sounds like a carnival melting in a fry-oil fire. I really would have liked to see an expression pedal out on the Whateverb for the sole purpose of manipulating the Warp in realtime.
I just reviewed the EarthQuaker Transmisser, which also features a “Warp” knob that serves as a system slew to pitch-shift and tighten/mellow out the tone of the overall effect. While I won’t draw any further direct comparisons between the two pedals, as they are distinctly different units, I will say that it would be easy to draw parallels between the Warp knob on the Transmisser and the Warp knob on the Whateverb, which prompts me to predict that we’ll see similar features start to crop up elsewhere in the industry. In my mind, the Warp knob as it applies to the Transmisser and the Whateverb is really the “Time” knob, determining the amount of time we’re working with to create whicheverb effect the Whateverb is generating at the time. (I had to.) The pitchshifts we’re hearing when the time knob is rolled are actually time changes, much like the pitchshifts we hear when changing the tempo on an analog delay. When we’re working with effects like this, it’s important to remember that Reverb and Chorus/Flange are time-based effects, being that it is fundamentally several delays colluding in a way that simulates space. The Whateverb maximizes this relationship in creative ways that flatter the more atmospheric shades of the Roland Space Echo, its spiritual catalyst.
The Adventure Audio Whateverb is evidence of the democratic nature of the effects pedal world; we’ve all wanted something like it, and here it is. Like I said, I really would have loved an expression input on this bad boy, but the Whateverb makes for a perfect addition to round out Adventure’s otherwise distortion-heavy catalogue. It could replace a single mode reverb pedal you own, or it could add it to your already burgeoning collection of weird noise makers; I’ll likely be keeping this on my pedalboard despite already having a dedicated reverb simply because the flavor is so unique from most of the reverbs on the market today. If you haven’t seen Adventure Audio’s work and you’re looking for an escape from a musical rut, I highly recommend the Whateverb. You won’t be disappointed… everb.
That concludes our Adventure Audio Whateverb review. Thanks for reading!