A cross between classic and ethereal, Dark Waves allows you to add echo… or chorus… or both. Considering the Echo first, it is not an expansive delay with long tails; rather, it produces a warm delay that stands out in the mix without sounding muddy. The best way to describe it is an extensive and modified slap back response (you can hear 3-4 repeats), although it is not snappy in its delivery. It very much coordinates well with its Chorus counterpart and how they respond together. The Chorus aspect is very good and not shrill. Some chorus pedals, particularly as you increase the mix, depth and rate can sound somewhat edgy and even grating to the ears – settings you likely would never use. With the Dark Waves chorus feature up full (with Depth, Rate, Volume/Mix up full and the Filter completely counter-clockwise) you get a strange ray-gun-like sound, as though some vibrato had a bout of nervous laughter. Lastly, the Volume knob controls the extent of the chorus, which is very much a mix knob since the loudness of the pedal does not seem to increase (or if it does, it is subtle).
Sounding great with guitar, Dark Waves also has been engineered for use with Bass and Keyboards. At a very reasonable price of $129 it is an excellent buy considering you get two effects in one that work very well together. The Echo is straight forward, but it performs as intended (you will not get a spacey result, but it is solid sounding and its pulse synchronizes with the Chorus). The Chorus is rather good and in a number of ways. First, as with any quality Chorus, you can make the effect rather subtle and barely audible, which is ideal for lead playing when you want to add some dimension or thickness to a tone. Second, there are some very nice parameters and usable ranges with the Rate and Filter knobs, to control how rapid the chorus sounds, but also how smooth or edgy you would like it. Third, even with all the knobs turned up full you still get interesting chorus results that don’t sound unpleasant. Idiotbox produced the Dark Waves Echo/Chorus pedal with a focus on ‘Instant Death Rock’ (and there’s a good in-house demo video on its site) although it likewise sounds awesome with acoustic strumming and traditional or classic rock playing. The warm yet punchy echo certainly compliments the chorus and Dark Waves definitely is worth considering if you’re in the market for a highly-functional Chorus with the added bonus of an Echo.
You get a nice hint of the Chorus effect with volume set at 12-noon, while remaining behind the main signal and without overpowering it. With Volume up full there seems to be an equal mix of the original signal and Chorus. The Depth knob controls how deep the chorus effect is or its ‘reach,’ whereas the Rate controls the speed or shimmering of the Chorus (up full and it still sounds good rather than a chorus out of control, if you know what I mean). The Filter shapes how subtle or extreme the chorus effect is: fully clockwise produces a very smooth sounding chorus, whereas fully counter-clockwise creates more aggression in the effect. There’s also a Swell knob that produces a quick rise and a slow fall in the effect (fully counter-clockwise), a slow rise and quick fall (fully clockwise) or anything between. The Echo knob is what it is, and about 12-noon produces a nice subtle effect that floats softly in the background, whereas cranked full makes the echo very noticeable, but not overpowering. A setting of about 12-noon to 1-o’clock works well when playing some heavy riffs, whereas slower more ambient passages sound good with the effect up full or nearly so.
Dark Waves Echo/Chorus is a standard pedal size, measuring approx. 122 x 62 mm (4.7 x 2.6 inches). Encased in a 125B sized solid steel chassis, the purple sparkle paint on black gloss appears to be of good quality and its looks certainly portray the atmosphere of this pedal. Likewise the six control knobs and their pots are both smooth and of high quality when turned. The foot switch produces a solid click under foot, but remains noiseless in the signal when switching on-and-off. The footswitch also is far removed enough from the control knobs that damage should not occur from a stomping foot; regardless, the knobs feel very solid and should take some abuse. Both input and output are located in the back, whereas the power input is located along the right side and next to the footswitch (exercise some modest care, and so no heavy drinking and stomping). Dark Waves accepts a 9V battery or it can be powered by a standard 9V DC ‘center negative’ 2.1mm BOSS style input while drawing 100mA.