Chaos Audio crams a virtual pedalboard into a single stomp
There are guitar players who prefer pedalboards packed with floor stomps, and there are a good number of software suites and apps that allow players to tap into an almost infinite arsenal of digital effects. The Stratus is a combination of both, a kind of Swiss Army knife FX multi-tool.
"As a broke college student, I found it extremely difficult to afford a bunch of pricey guitar pedals," said Chaos Audio's Landon McCoy. "That's when I had the idea to create a multi-effects platform to help guitarists like me get access to the full pedal board experience without breaking the bank."
Developed by McCoy and fellow engineering students from Florida State University - Panama City, and currently raising production funds on Kickstarter, the Stratus is described as an intelligent, all-in-one multi-tool for electric guitarists.
As well as allowing digital effects to be wirelessly loaded into the pedal's internal memory from an iOS/Android mobile app over Bluetooth 5.0, the Stratus is also home to a guitar tuner, looper and metronome. As such, it's pitched as a pedalboard of sorts, but one that's contained within a single stomp unit.
The app taps into an online library of audio effects, including distortion, flanger, reverb, fuzz and delay. The physical unit can be used to replace any missing effect in a signal chain, without having to rush down to the music store and order one, but the app allows players to set up a virtual pedalboard of up to five effects, with stomp order and parameter control all undertaken on the screen of the mobile device running the app.
The footswitch on the pedal engages all active effects in the chain, but individual virtual units can be turned on or off via the app, and there are plans to develop a five-button Bluetooth controller to work as a pedalboard substitute, too. The Chaos team says that more effects will be added to its online library regularly, but users can also craft their own.
The physical control knob on the face of the pedal serves as the looper switch and parameter control. Above this sits an LED lightstrip that's used for the tuner function, offering a simple visual cue to show when strings are in tune, or to serve as an eyes-on metronome to keep you in time. The Stratus pedal can store previous session settings, and the tuner and metronome can be used without firing up the app.
The system is built around ARM Cortex-A8 processing brains, supported by 512 MB of RAM and 4 GB of storage, it rocks 16-bit/44.1-kHz audio, and has a built-in 3,000- mAh Li-Po battery that's reckoned good for seven hours of continuous use – though you will need to plug in over USB-C or via the traditional 9-V power port at the back to recharge.
Kickstarter pledges start at US$199 for the first 100 pedals, rising to $239 for the next 200, and $249 thereafter. If all goes to plan, shipping is estimated to start in July 2021. The video below has more.
Source: Chaos Audio