Walrus Audio has launched the Badwater, a preamp and DI pedal for bass, named after the Badwater Basin in Death Valley, California. What else other than the lowest point in the United States to name a pedal that’s all about the low end?
“Like the basin it’s named after, the Badwater holds the foundation for the lowest frequencies and saltiest licks in song creation,” says Walrus Audio. Well, the Badwater certainly serves up a lot of options for low-end adventurists of all persuasions.
Plug your bass guitar into the Badwater and the first circuit it will encounter contains an always-on optical compressor, controlled by a single Sustain dial. Set fully counterclockwise, the compressor is barely there, but as you turn the dial the transients are smoothed over, sustain is enhanced, and the typical tone-gussying magic of the compressor takes hold.
The signal then enters a drive stage of the pedal where you have a three-way toggle switch for selecting your overdrive voicing. This offers a choice of three settings that determine which frequencies enter the drive section.
Like Walrus Audio's Eras and Ages Five-State pedals, there is a Blend control allowing you to dial in how much of overdriven signal you want in the mix. Finally, a Level control sets the overall output from the drive stage.
Thus far, the Badwater has effectively presented us with compressor pedal and an overdrive pedal. Now for the EQ stage. Here we have a four-band EQ offering +/- 12dB of boost or cut on the Low and High frequencies, with +/- 10dB available for Low and High Mids.
The exact frequency of the Low Mid and High Mid dials can be dialled in using the LMF and HMF knobs, with the LMF offering selectable frequencies between 500Hz and 2.4kHz, and the HMF’s sweep ranging from 3.5kHz to 7.5kHz. Finally, there is a Volume dial to round out the enclosure’s controls.
Around the side of the pedal you will find 1/4” and balanced XLR outputs, the latter with ground lift to nix any noise issues when going direct. The former allows you to run the Badwater as a supremely powerful tone-shaper going straight into your bass amp.
Walrus Audio promises all the bass tone food groups are found in its Badwater – “warm cleans, gritty chords, punchy drive, or bright and crisp slap”.
You can also run both outputs simultaneously so your signal is going straight to the PA and to your amp at the same time, which is a handy option to have when playing live. Indeed, the Badwater looks like a handy pedalboard option for bass players, with that blendable, switchable gain surely squaring the circle in finding bass-friendly grit without sacrificing articulation.