Walrus Audio is an American company based in Oklahoma that manufactures effect pedals and audio effects. They have achieved quite a popularity during the last few years with their most popular releases. Their guitar pedals are built with high-quality components, built to last, with amazing artwork and original sounds that inspire musicians all over the world to compose and play amazing music.
I have owned several Walrus Audio pedals such as the Julia (chorus), the Monument (tremolo), and the ARP-87 (delay), and while all of them felt incredible to use and explore, I have to point out that the Mako Series R1 Reverb is a notch above everything else I had played from Walrus before.
In this Walrus R1 Reverb Pedal Review, we are going to dive deep into this powerhouse of a pedal, capable of doing anything from vintage-oriented, classic spring reverb sounds to dramatically large ambient trails with modulation and other inspiring effects.
Bottom Line Up Front
Walrus Audio has achieved an amazing product with the Mako Series R1 Reverb. Like all pedals in the Mako Series, it is packed with interesting and inspiring functions, it has MIDI connectivity, and it manages to fit a lot of processing power into a small stompbox with two switches that will fit on anyone’s pedalboard.
It contains 6 studio-grade reverb algorithms (Spring, Hall, Plate, BFR, Refract, and Air), controls for Decay, Mix, and Swell, as well as two special knobs (Tune and Tweak) that control a variety of parameters depending on the selected algorithm and a couple of switch’s positions. You can connect it in stereo to make the most out of these reverb engines.
I can’t recommend this pedal enough to players who want to be able to quickly dial gorgeous, lush, and musical reverb tones for any context, whether you need a more vintage, traditional vibe, or something more experimental and modern. The fact that you can save a total of 9 presets onboard without having to acquire any extra gear also makes this an excellent choice for gigging guitarists. It also sounds beautiful on other instruments such as bass and keyboards!
The Sustain feature is also very fun and usable in a practical context. It is worth noting that it allows you to play over your frozen sound with the same reverb patch you were using before, something that some pedals with an infinite decay feature cannot accomplish.
Walrus Audio Mako Series R1 Reverb Main Features
Let’s start this review by checking out the main features of this killer reverb pedal.
6 Studio-Quality Reverb Algorithms – Spring, Hall, Plate, BFR, Refract and Air
The R1 Reverb features a wide variety of reverb algorithms that are all very usable, tweakable, and musical. I hadn’t been a huge fan of big, spacey reverbs, even while I owned the Strymon BigSky which I eventually sold. However, I was very inspired by the BFR, Refract, and Air algorithms, and ended up using them on a few songs live.
In any case, my go-to mode in almost every reverb pedal is Plate, unless I am going for a very specific sound like a dripping spring reverb when I need a surf-rock or western kind of vibe.
Since the R1 allows you to save 3 presets on each of its 3 banks (A, B, and C) you can easily dial a trio of distinct reverbs on each bank that could be recalled during songs, even if you don’t have any kind of MIDI controller. Pushing both switches at the same time scrolls through your 3 patches.
I like having a subtle reverb that doesn’t get in the way, a slightly bigger one for any leads or ambient parts that could benefit from more space, and the third one depends on what I’m using that bank for. Sometimes I just don’t save anything in specific, and others I’ll have a crazy patch to make the most out of the Sustain/Latch feature.
The 6 algorithms that you’ll find on the Mako Series R1 Reverb are the following:
As you’d expect, the Spring algorithm emulates the spring reverb tanks that were typically found on famous tube amplifiers of the 60s like the Fender Deluxe Reverb. It can be used as a subtle tool or you can really exaggerate the effect to get into surf-rock territory.
In this program, the X knob controls how much saturation you hear along with the reverb.
No great reverb pedal is complete without a good Hall algorithm, and the R1 Reverb has got that covered. You can sound as if you were in a small to a medium-sized club, all the way to a concert hall or a full-sized arena. While it isn’t the reverb type I use the most, I can see its usefulness in certain contexts.
The X knob controls the size of the room. Rotate it clockwise to increase the size.
Plate reverb is one of my favorite sounds, and it is all over the records that we’ve grown up listening to. Walrus Audio took inspiration from famous plates such as the EMT 140 to design this algorithm. It is by far the one I use the most in the entire pedal.
In this algorithm, the X knob adds a little grit to the reverb, similar to its function when you’re using the Spring reverb.
From now on, we’re entering R1’s collection of atmospheric reverbs made with the ambient guitarist in mind. BFR stands for Big F_____ Reverb (I’ll let you fill in that word yourself) and it takes you to a whole other dimension at the click of a switch.
This reverb uses several multi-tap delays to create a gigantic sound cushion that can be adjusted to feel more textured or smoothened out via the X knob.
The Refract algorithm is centered around a heavily diffused reverb that contains glitch-like textures that you can tweak using the R1’s X knob. Out of the 3 bigger reverbs found on the R1, Refract was my least favorite, but it is still very fun to explore.
The Air algorithm was designed to sound huge and diffused while keeping clarity and sharpness as priorities. The result is a gorgeous reverb that drastically transforms any melody or chord, without getting in the way of what you are playing.
My favorite way to use this reverb is to add a little bit of the Swell effect to have a slower build-up. The X knob controls the amount of “wind” and shimmer effects added to the reverb. I like to keep this one between 10 o’clock and noon.
Presets – Onboard and MIDI
With the Mako Series R1 Reverb, you can store up to 9 different presets onboard, which are split between 3 banks: A, B, and C.
Within each bank, there are 3 presets which can be toggled between by pressing both switches simultaneously. This causes one of the LEDs to switch colors, indicating you’re in a different preset. The LED will cycle between red, blue, and green. If you change any parameter on a saved preset, the LED changes to a purple color to indicate that it is no longer the exact same preset that you have saved.
If you want to go even further, you can access up to 128 presets via MIDI. While it is much more than what I need, I can see how useful it is for people who have a lot of patches to get specific tones during performances with several songs.
For me, the best part about using different presets with the R1 Reverb is the fact that they always spill over, meaning that when you switch to the next patch, the first reverb will gradually fade out while the new one comes in. This avoids awkward cuts when cycling between reverbs with contrasting values of decay and mix.
High Level of Customization
Some reverb pedals only have a Tone knob to adjust the reverb’s EQ. The R1 Reverb certainly doesn’t fit into this category, because you can tweak a lot of parameters on this pedal. I can’t say that you have as many possibilities as you have on the BOSS RV-500 for example, but that one can even be a bit overwhelming with all of its options. The R1 Reverb is easy to use and explore, but there is definitely an advantage in getting comfortable with how its controls interact.
The Decay and Mix knobs work the same way as they do on other reverbs. One controls how long it takes for the reverb to totally fade, and the other controls how much of that reverb is being mixed into your signal.
Swell allows you to have your reverb fade in automatically, almost as if you were using a volume pedal to create swell effects. This can come in pretty handy if you need that kind of sound without carrying a volume pedal around.
The Tweak knob controls the Rate and Depth of the modulation, as well as the Pre-Delay. To select which one you want to edit, there is a small switch located under the knob.
The Tune knob works identically, controlling the Low and High frequencies of the reverb signal, as well as “X”, which changes depending on which reverb algorithm is selected.
Sustain/Latch Switch for Momentary Functions
The switch on the right side of the pedal engages the Sustain feature, making your reverb trail infinite. There are two modes: you can either press and hold the switch, and let go when you want the reverb to fade normally, or hit it once to toggle the freeze effect and press it again to disengage.
The best part about this feature is the fact that you can keep playing over the frozen reverb trails with the same patch you were using before. This is a point in favor of the R1 if you compare it to the BigSky, which only lets you play with no reverb once you engage the infinite decay.
Different Bypass Modes
The R1 Reverb features three different bypass modes, allowing you to determine how the reverb trail fades:
- True Bypass: Relays are used to bypass the pedal
- DSP+ True Bypass: Relays are used to bypass the pedal only after the reverb trails completely fade
- DSP Bypass: The pedal locks the relays on and uses the DSP to bypass the pedal.
It comes from the factory in True Bypass mode, but you can change it by powering on the pedal while holding down the Bypass switch, and then using the Sus/Latch switch to cycle between the three modes.
Red, Green, and Blue correspond to True Bypass, DSP+, and DSP Bypass respectively. After you select the desired mode, press both switches at once to confirm.
Walrus Audio Mako Series R1 Reverb Complete Specifications
You can check the full specifications of the Walrus Audio R1 Reverb below.
- Circuit Type: Digital Reverb
- Presets: 9 User Presets (3 per bank), more accessible via MIDI
- Reverb Types: Spring, Hall, Plate, BFR, Refract, Air
- Inputs: 2 x 1/4″ (L/Mono, R)
- Outputs: 2 x 1/4″ (L/Mono, R)
- MIDI I/O: In/Thru
- True Bypass: Yes, switchable to DSP with Trails/DSP + True Bypass Trails
- Additional Features: Sustain/Latch Momentary Switch
- Power Source: 9V DC 300mA (not included)
- Dimensions: 2.52″ x 2.64″ x 4.9″ (Height x Width x Depth)
- Other: Firmware updates available via www.walrusaudio.io
Other Pedals to Check Out as Alternatives to the Walrus Audio Mako Series R1 Reverb
The R1 Reverb is undoubtedly a powerful tool that can cover a lot of ground without taking up too much space on your pedalboard. However, the variety of reverb pedals in today’s marketplace is astonishing, and it wouldn’t be wise to make a purchase without comparing it with some alternatives that aim to do the same job.
Here are a few of my current favorite reverb pedals that I would consider good alternatives to the Walrus Audio Mako Series R1 Reverb. Some of these might not be a great choice for players looking for a smaller pedal due to their larger designs.
My main criteria for this selection were the presence of several reverb algorithms, the degree of customization (how many parameters you can adjust), the ability to save and recall presets, and MIDI.
The Meris Mercury7 was designed for guitarists who love ambient sounds. It was inspired by Blade Runner‘s soundtrack by Vangelis, which means you’ll find a lot of space, modulation, and ethereal reverbs with effects such as pitch shifting and features such as MIDI control.
I wouldn’t recommend this one to a player who wants to have a bit of everything on a reverb pedal, such as spring and plate with other less traditional algorithms. However, if you want a pedal that can create huge soundscapes that you can extensively tweak and control with MIDI, the Mercury7 is an excellent candidate.
It also has an auto-swell function that works identically to the Swell knob found on the Walrus Audio Mako Series R1 Reverb.
You can find the Meris Mercury7 for a price of around $300.
Red Panda Context 2
The Red Panda Context 2 brings a lot of customization options to the table. It is one of the most versatile reverb pedals out there, boasting 8 different reverb algorithms, an echo, and other controls like modulation, delay and tremolo.
A pedal that can produce such a diverse palette of tones wouldn’t be complete without the ability to save and recall presets, and the Context 2 allows you to recall your favorite preset with the left side footswitch, but up to 127 additional presets can be accessed via MIDI.
The Context 2 features the following reverb algorithms: Room, Hall, Cathedral, Gated, Reverse, Plate, Spring and Grain. Some of these are more traditional sounding, but you can get really creative with engines such as Gated or Grain, an awesome granular reverb that is as interesting as it is unpredictable.
It also features an infinite hold feature similar to the R1 and the BigSky.
You can generally find the Red Panda Context 2 for a price of around $330.
Universal Audio UAFX Golden Reverberator
Universal Audio is known for making some of the best equipment in the music industry, and that goes beyond their famous audio interfaces. The UAFX Golden Reverberator quickly became one of the most highly regarded reverb pedals among guitarists.
Whether you’re laying down tracks at the studio or gigging, the Golden Reverberator is able to bring studio-quality reverb to the tip of your toes. It comes equipped with only 3 algorithms, but they are all top-notch. You’ll find Spring 65, Plate 140 and Hall 224. Upon registering your product, you can also claim two additional effects: Plate 224 and Chamber 224.
It boasts features such as modulation, stereo or dual-mono, spillover when changing patches, and a lot more. The UAFX Control app (available for both iOS and Android) grants you even more control over your reverb sounds.
The Universal Audio UAFX Golden Reverberator can be found for a price of around $320.
The BOSS RV-500 is one of the most complete reverb pedals I have ever seen and owned. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who loves spending hours exploring the different tones that a pedal can produce, especially if you’re good at EQing.
It has a total of 12 reverb algorithms, among which you can find pretty much every famous BOSS reverb, such as the RV-5 and the COSM modeling of the Fender Spring Reverb. All of these quality sounds are powered by a powerful 32-bit/96kHz processor.
You can connect it in stereo and use it with more instruments other than guitar, like bass or keyboards. It has space for 297 presets, which frankly is more than anyone probably needs, but it is great if you want to save a lot of sounds over time.
Aside from reverb, there are also delay effects that can be blended into your signal, making the RV-500 one of the most versatile and powerful options in the entire list. There is a tap tempo switch to control the repetitions as well.
You can find the BOSS-RV500 for a price of around $400.
Source Audio Ventris Dual Reverb
The Ventris Dual Reverb by Source Audio caters to players who want to have as many options as possible. With a total of 14 stereo reverb algorithms, you can create almost any sound that you can think of.
The programs found on this pedal are the following: Room, Hall-L, E-Dome, True Spring, Plate, Lo-Fi, Modverb, Shimmer, Echoverb, Swell, Offspring, Reverse, Outboard Spring and Metal Box.
One of the most unique features of this pedal is its ability to stack two different reverbs and use them at once. Pair that with its huge collection of algorithms and you have nearly infinite sounds at your disposal. There is spillover when changing between reverbs, and you can go as far as customizing how long it takes for the reverb decay to fade out.
Source Audio also developed an app called Neuro Editor, which lets you fine-tune parameters from your smartphone or computer. It also lets you save up to 3 custom presets.
The Ventris also supports MIDI and can be used with the Source Audio Neuro Hub (sold separately).
You can find this powerhouse of a pedal for a price of around $430.
Strymon BigSky Multidimensional Reverb
The Strymon BigSky is undoubtedly one of the most popular reverb units in the entire music industry. You’ve certainly seen this pedal on many famous musicians’ pedalboards, often accompanied by other Strymon pedals such as the Timeline and the Mobius.
The BigSky features 12 different styles of reverb that should be enough to satisfy even the most demanding of players. You’ll find traditional sounds such as Spring, Hall and Plate, and also some more daring algorithms like Chorale and Magneto.
There is space for 300 presets which can be accessed by MIDI, or you can navigate through the pedal’s banks by using footswitch combinations.
I always found it easy to get great sounds out of the BigSky, something that doesn’t seem to be as easy with some of the other high-end reverb pedals I have been able to explore and own. It doesn’t mean that the others are less capable, it is just that it feels easier to craft a studio-ready or stage-ready sound with this one.
You can find the Strymon BigSky for a price of around $480.
FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions About the Walrus Audio Mako Series R1 Reverb
Question: Is the Walrus Audio Mako Series R1 Reverb a Versatile Pedal?
Answer: Absolutely. With 6 studio-quality reverb algorithms and a wide variety of parameters that you can tweak, there are nearly infinite reverb sounds to be obtained with the Walrus Audio Mako Series R1 Reverb. It is one of my favorite pedals in this category because it is packed with interesting and musical features while keeping its size very modest. I get lush, dripping spring reverb sounds, gorgeous plate reverbs and huge ambient sounds with the less traditional algorithms preset in this pedal.
Question: Would the Walrus Audio Mako Series R1 Reverb be a Good Replacement or Alternative to the Strymon BigSky?
Answer: The R1 Reverb is an extremely capable BigSky alternative, especially for players who would rather have a smaller pedal with no screen but that still has all the power and possibilities that MIDI grants you. Since you can use a controller to access up to 128 different patches, you can have a huge library of reverb sounds while taking up a small space on your pedalboard.
The R1 does not have as many reverb algorithms as the Strymon, but all the tweakable parameters allow you to craft nearly unlimited reverb tones anyways. I also prefer the Sustain feature on the R1 in comparison to Strymon’s Freeze/Infinite Sustain for the simple fact that the notes you play after you freeze your sound still have the original reverb patch on them, as opposed to sounding completely dry.
Question: How do you Perform a Factory Reset on the Walrus Audio Mako Series R1 Reverb?
Answer: In order to reset everything on the pedal to its factory settings, you must press both switches at the same time, and then power on the pedal (plug it into a power source). Keep pressing them for 10 seconds, release them and the pedal will have reset back to factory settings.
Question: Can you Power the Walrus Audio Mako Series R1 Reverb With a 9V Battery Instead of Using an External Power Supply?
Answer: No. Since it does not have a battery compartment, to power the Walrus Audio Mako Series R1 Reverb, you have to use a 9VDC power supply with at least 300mA.
Closing Considerations About the Walrus Audio Mako Series R1 Reverb
In summary, the Walrus Audio Mako Series R1 Reverb is a serious pedal that shouldn’t be overlooked by anyone who is looking for power, versatility, stereo, MIDI, and a wide array of interesting features that help players find new and inspiring songs to either compose new material, revamp songs that are already written, or just explore it and see where it takes them.
It is also built with extremely high-quality materials, and Walrus Audio offers a lifetime guarantee. I have used it myself on a couple of different pedals and I was over the moon with the care and attention of their customer service.
I’ve used mine in countless contexts, from rehearsals to studio sessions and live performances, and it always delivered masterfully. The fact that it is so small makes me grab it much more often than other bigger and heavier pedals. I have never felt like I was lacking functions or sounds in comparison to when I’ve played with pedals such as the RV-500 or the BigSky, so it is a no-brainer for me.
There are still many interesting options within the same price range, and I’d recommend you give them all a try before you pull the trigger.
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