When I wrote my 9 Best Modulation Workstations feature last year, I bemoaned the lack of compact-size multi-modulation pedals. In fact the only one I was really aware of then was the TC Electronic John Petrucci Signature Pedal - The Dreamscape, which I include here again as the only one of these 6 that I currently own.
In that same previous 9 best listing, I now own 4 of those covered - the Boss MD-500, Strymon Mobius and Eventide H9 Max besides The Dreamscape. I still have a mind to get the Keeley Super Mod Workstation (probably) and the Mooer Mod Factory (almost definitely). I feel that a medium-sized modulation workstation may be the next thing that Source Audio bring out in the same format as their previous Nemesis Delay and Ventris Reverb workstations. I’m also actually waiting on the release of the Empress Zoia - which will likely unseat my Boss MD-500, which I prefer to my Strymon Mobius - although I do still use both - but alternately.
As far as compact multi-modulation or modulation workstation pedals - some I just was not aware of, and some are more recently released - like the Wavelength and Utility Knife. I always thought that TC Electronic needed a proper multi-modulation workstation pedal to accompany its superb Flashback and Hall of Fame pedals in a similar vein. And I’ve thought for a while that Source Audio should introduced a Modulation Workstation in the same form factor as the Nemesis and Ventris - as just mentioned.
As it currently stands, there are now some pretty decent compact-multi modulation pedals, and there should really be something for everyone here. My frontrunner is likely the new Alexander Wavelength which has really neat controls, presets and tap-tempo, but no stereo output. My Dreamscape is stereo - which is why I acquired is at the time, and the Nux Mod Core Deluxe is also stereo - while the others here take a more simplistic approach, although the Muza FD-800 does have presets too.
Pedals are listed alphabetically by brand:
I was really excited when I saw the Alexander Wavelength, as I though this was just the type of multi-modulation pedal that was missing - 6 core modes with lots of alternative functions, plus tap-tempo and presets - what's not to like here? Then I realised that this does not have stereo outputs, and would not be a good enough replacement for The Dreamscape, which in any case I swapped out with the Eventide H9 Max. Yet I'd really like a handy compact multi-modulation pedal that covers most of the basis, is tap-tempo, has presets, and does have at least stereo outs, but ideally both ins and outs. For mosts players - obviously those with mono rigs - this Wavelength is probably the best of what is currently available. The Wavelength covers the following modes:
A low cost Chinese brand I assume - which is very new to me, but this seems to be a pretty solid multi-tasker with plenty of options up its sleeve - and sounds pretty good too. It has 4 presets you can call upon, and stereo output. The only thing it's missing really is a tap-tempo - but for the money, you really cannot quibble. Modes covered:
Not altogether dissimilar to the Muza above - this pedal though has stereo ins and outs, and 2 x 8 modes via a Deluxe (DLX) Mode toggle which also features Tone Lock Function that allows you to freeze the dial parameters during a live performance - no presets here either, but plenty of tones! Features the following modes:
I've featured this pedal once or twice on this site before - a useful multi-modulation pedal featuring a quartet of key modulations. Obviously falls into the boutique category of pedals, and does sound pretty good, but I'm not sure you can fully justify against most of the others on this page which give you quite a bit more for less. Modes covered:
Most will know this as the compacted version of the legendary SCF Stereo Chorus Flanger - giving you dual Chorus, Vibrato and Flanger modes alongside a 7th TonePrint mode - which can pretty much handle and sort of oscillated or swirly modulation - you can pick and customise from the TCE TonePrint App. It also benefits from stereo ins and outs, but lacks tap-tempo. I've always felt that TC Electronic need to put up a slightly better competitor in this category which can sit happily and justifiably alongside the super version 2 Flashback and Hall of Fame. I used this for a short while in my rig, particularly for Chorus and Flanging - it was pretty good, but I felt it could be significantly improved. It was bumped out by an Eventide H9 Max which is of course and entirely different sort of animal. Modes covered:
Another new brand for me and a pedal that's superficially quite close to the Southampton Utility Knife above. The main difference here is that in place of a Volume Dial, the Q-Mod has a Reverb control - which makes everything sound more syrupy and lush. There's no tap-temp or stereo support here, but this one quite probably sounds the best of the bunch. Modes covered:
As I stated at the top - I was really excited when the Alexander Wavelength came out - I love the dual footswitch format with tap-tempo. But then I quickly realised that there were no stereo outputs which means that this pedal is not really suitable for my current rig. I would need it to sit in between my analogue modulations and my digital ones - and I really need stereo inputs + outputs to connect out of the Tech 21 NYC Roto Choir. So besides The Dreamscape which I already have, the only suitable candidate is the Nux Mod Core Deluxe - and that has no tap-tempo!
So in short the quest goes on! What I'm really looking for here is a compact multi-modulation - pretty much identical to the Alexander Wavelength, but with stereo ins and outs. I guess there is not so much demand for compact all-in-one modulation pedals at the moment, as none of these can really come anywhere close to my Boss MD-500, Eventide H9 Max or Strymon Mobius.
I'm guessing there's simply not enough of us stereo rig types to fully justify such a development, and TC Electronic has not yet adapted the dual footswitch format - which seems to be very much part of the boutique landscape currently.
I think each pedal here has something to recommend it for different usage criteria and along the essentially 3 different price-points. I guess most of you don't use stereo, but for me tap-tempo is key - so I would have to say that Wavelength is the main recommendation here - with the Dreamscape a somewhat distant runner-up unless you have a stereo rig.