The Stratus from Chaos Audio returns less than a year into its release, updated, refreshed and once again posing an existential challenge to the pedalboard. Here you have a single compact, with one footswitch and a dial on top, and it can house your entire signal chain.
The idea is simple. Pair it via Bluetooth to the mobile app, access Chaos Audio's online library of digital effects, arrange them how you like them – fuzz, distortion, delay, whatever – and then send the virtual pedalboard wirelessly to the Stratus. You can chain up to five effects and position them anywhere on the signal path.
And that's it: no extra patch cables, no hunting down meddlesome DC power cables that have come loose. Now, many of us won't be decommissioning our pedal collections any time soon; they are, after all, our sound, and hard won at that. But in the age of digital transformation, having an all-in-one effects solution is intriguing.
There are a plenty of effects to play with. For fuzz, you've got digital emulations based on the Fuzz Face and Big Muff Pi. There are two flavours of overdrive, one modelled on an amp-style drive, the other on the venerable Tube Screamer.
Elsewhere, you've got a simple gain boost, a distortion modelled after the Boss DS-1, reverb, phaser, flanger, auto-wah, and a more outré offering in the form of the Bitdowner, which will degrade your guitar signal so it sounds like an 8-bit arcade game.
There is also an onboard tuner, a five-minute looper, and the app's UI returns new and improved for this second edition of the pedal. The pedal itself is a simple affair. The enclosure has been redesigned and features an LED light at the top to help you with the looper feature, a single knob with a push function for adjusting parameters and looper recording, plus a footswitch for toggling between tuner mode and the effects. It has a USB-C connection and two 1/4" input/outputs.
The Chaos Audio Stratus project is on Kickstarter right now, where Chaos Audio has already exceeded its goal, so we'd expect these new units to be in production as soon as Chaos Audio can get everything in order. Early bird offers for the project's supporters will bag one for $219 (approx £155), with the RRP of the finished units $299. Alternatively, back the project to the tune of $995 and receive five units.