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Walrus Audio Fable

Walrus Audio FableI’m a real fan of granular delays, as they can transform the most innocent of sounds into a complex and musically engaging texture. If granular effects have a downside, it’s that they can end up being quite complicated, but in the Fable pedal, US-based Walrus Audio have come up with a pedal whose five switchable preset program effect types interact with the other controls to provide a range of effects that range from smooth and hypnotic to glitchy and agitated, without becoming excessively chaotic.

The Fable is a mono-in, mono-out pedal that can accommodate guitars or keyboards. It requires a 9V DC, centre-negative, 300mA or greater power supply, ideally from a good quality regulated pedal power supply unit. All the connections are on the rear panel rather than the sides so there’s no wasted pedalboard space. A ‘hold down a switch, power on’ sequence can be used to switch from trails to no trails when bypassing the effect.

Internally, the pedal uses two separate DSP engines, each with its own analogue feedback path, and in addition to the expected bypass footswitch, there’s a tap tempo switch with flashing tempo LED — this or the Time knob can be used to set the delay time. This dual-engine approach makes it possible to combine fairly conventional tap-tempo delays with granular textures, though the function of each engine changes depending on the algorithm currently active.

There’s no system for storing programs and no USB connection for updating firmware or storing patches to a computer, but the way the preset programs have been chosen makes it very easy to quickly dial in the desired sound. Indeed, if you set all the controls to halfway and then simply run through the five program switch positions, you’ll find you still have a usable setting
for each. This is particularly important for live performance as having too many parameters, or parameters with too wide a range of adjustment, makes it difficult to get predictable results.

Some of the control functions do change sightly when different programs are selected so a quick read through of the manual is recommended. But generally, Feedback sets the gain in the feedback path of the first DSP stage, while Regen does the same for the second DSP. Modulation adjusts the depth of pitch modulation, but if you want to change the modulation rate, you need to hold down Bypass while turning the Mod knob. Mix controls the wet/ dry balance.

On the second row, X generally controls the grain size. Time sets the delay time but also affects the granular buffer size (other than in program IV where it controls time-stretching of the grains). Tone places variable frequency filtering in the effect output and the feedback paths in the form of a low-pass filter with slight resonance. At higher settings a gentle high-pass filter is added, making the repeats sound brighter and thinner. There’s also a momentary pitch Dive/Rise effect that is triggered if the Tap switch is held down. The direction of the pitch dive can be changed by pressing Bypass and Tap at the same time.

Program I sets up a reverse delay feeding into a reverse granular engine, so reversal and re-reversal occur in the feedback paths to add an organic complexity at longer grain sizes or a more pronounced stutter at shorter grain sizes. The result is something like a tape echo machine, albeit with a tape that the dog has chewed! Program II uses a forward delay fed into an octave-up granular engine achieved by playing back the grains at double
speed. These build up in the feedback path creating a shimmery, pulsating delay that becomes a little more disruptive and chirpy at shorter grain sizes.

Program III is similar except the grains are shifted down by an octave, creating a surprisingly warm and involving sound with the low end pulsing in and out of focus. Program IV runs two multi-tap granular algorithms in series, where Time controls time-stretching of both granular algorithms to produce dense, reverb-like effects underpinned by granular flutters. At the maximum grain size this can produce a very smooth reverb meets beaten-up delay effect. That leaves program V, which feeds a delay into a granular engine that produces random octave up, octave down and randomly reversed grains. Here, X sets the rate of randomisation. The result is less chaotic than it might sound and again adds a very musical, pulsing texture to the sound, almost like the sound a tape makes when being fast wound while still in contact with the play head.

I should also mention the Mod control, as adding around 30 percent modulation adds warmth and movement to all the programs. In most cases setting the Mix control at between one quarter and one third up produces the most musical results, but there are no rules here — if it sounds good then it is good.


While most pedals tend to target guitar players, granular processing of this type can add a lot of character to basic synth sounds too. I also found that the Fable worked particularly well with Ebow guitar for ambient improvisations. It could be argued that some granular pedals, and certainly many granular plug-ins, provide a greater range of treatments but I think that Walrus Audio have done the right thing here by providing a very usable set of preset programs that can be adjusted over a fairly wide range but without allowing the user to get into too much trouble. Excessive granular processing can easily produce a disjointed, glitchy wall of noise but I suspect that isn’t what most users would want from a pedal that is designed to be controllable in a live environment. The more I play with the Fable the more I like it, and it would slot beautifully into my live performances and ambient soundscapes.

£299 including VAT.


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