Walrus – Deep Six Compressor REVIEW

Walrus Audio creates some beautiful pedals. The artwork is always compelling, and the Deep Six compressor pedal is no exception, but what really matters is of course the sound. Let’s find out if the Deep Six is as pleasing to the ear as it is to the eye…

This compressor pedal is not made particularly for bass, but neither is the Empress Compressor, the Wampler Ego or the Mad Professor Forest Green and all of those pedals sound great on bass. So, I will approach the Walrus Deep Six with an open mind, not holding it against it that it was developed with guitarists in mind.

 

 

walrus-deep-six-control-knobsThe Deep Six has a fairly simple control interface, featuring 4 knobs, an LED and a footswitch. Walrus claims to have merged the performance of an 1176 studio compressor unit and the simplicity of a classic Ross/MXR compressor pedal. This is almost true, but the original Ross comp only had two knobs, so the Deep Six might be slightly less simplistic. Not a problem, though, and the flexibility that it does indeed add is well worth the extra knobs on the UI.

The top right knob is named SUSTAIN and controls how much you squeeze the signal. The knob right below is the ATTACK control that slows down the attack time the more you turn it clockwise.

The lower left knob is the BLEND control that allows you to mix in your clean signal, which is also known as ‘parallel compression’.

The last knob is the LEVEL control that sets the overall master output volume. By nature, a compressed signal is decreased and a bit of counter-adjusting may sometimes be needed.

 

 

white headphone with rhythm symbol

There are 4 rounds of sound clips in this review:

  • Sustain
  • Attack
  • Slap smack
  • Extreme settings

 

NOTE! Please use headphones or ‘real’ speakers. You simply can’t judge low-end material on laptop, tablet or phone speakers…!

NOTE! If you are on a mobile device, please turn it to landscape mode to see the knob settings of the pedal for each audio clip.

BUTTON-SOUND-CLIPS

 

 

The Deep Six is very versatile. It allows you to create a wide range of useful compressed tones – from subtle always-on tones for some gentle smoothening of dynamics to tight, punchy and ear-slapping tones. I could easily find good use for this pedal in most situations. It even has some of that fattening, yet clear, quality that you can add to your fundamental tone at very gentle settings with no dedicated dynamic control in mind.

There is not a lot more to say about this pedal in terms of versatility other than the fact that I really like it a lot.

 

 

The quality seems very high. As is usually the case when the review target is a brand new pedal, it’s hard to say anything solid about long-term reliability, but you can get an idea about the ruggedness and expected lifetime after having fiddled around with a pedal for some time. The Deep Six from Walrus left a very good impression on the usual suspects such as firm knobs, tight jack connectors and a nice feeling to the footswitch.

As mentioned in the introduction, the visual design is smooth and compelling with tons of attention to detail. But just in the same way that audible qualities are subjective, so is the visual counterpart. Well, I like the pale green color and the detailed graphics of the casual life under the sea.

When it comes to the internal design, Walrus also made some nice marks. For instance, the power supply input is flexible, which means that it accepts 9V regardless of whether the polarity is minus or plus on the tip. And once the 9 volts are in the house, the voltage is doubled to 18V for added headroom.

Had it been an issue, I might have mentioned the lack of independent control over release time, but the pedal is nicely tuned and I never missed it during the testing. The same goes for a dedicated tone control, which is sometimes very useful when a hard-squeezed signal looses top end, but again, in this particular case it was not an issue at all.

The blend feature is great. It is becoming a more and more common feature on compressor pedals, but still, I often mention this as the option for parallel compression opens a whole new tonal territory where you can monster squash the living hell out of your tone, but only blend it in softly, which creates a completely different type of tone than if you compress more gently across the full signal.

One thing you might miss is visual indication of the compression going on, as there is no gain reduction metering of any sort. I used to not really care about this feature, but have also come to see some of the benefits after having tried some pedals with visual feedback. However, I still wouldn’t consider this a deal breaker in any way. At the end of the day, the sound is all that really matters.

 

 

Today (2016), a Walrus Deep Six retails at $199, which puts it somewhere in the upper-mid range of the price spectrum. But quality, design and tonewise it also resides in that area, so the price is definitely justified. In fact, I would take it one step further and say that the Deep Six represents great value for money.

 

 

The Deep Six may not appear to be the most flexible comp pedal around, but the baked in tone and the way the controls behave and alters the sound is fundamentally great and I never missed anything with regard to flexibility. I never longed for a release time control or separate threshold and ratio knobs, as the tone is pure and punchy.

The price is in the upper mid range, but it is mostly justified and if you are looking for a compressor pedal a step or two above the mainstream choices available, you should definitely give the Deep Six a try.

 

PROS

Sounds (and looks) great

Very high quality

Very versatile

Great value for money

Adds a pleasant character even at super subtle settings

 

CONS

No visual feedback
(really not a big deal, though)

 

SCORE

SOUND: 92

VERSATILITY: 87

BUILD QUALITY: 90

DESIGN & USABILITY: 89

VALUE FOR MONEY: 86

TOTAL SCORE: 88.8

 

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