I’m not sure how happy Strymon is going to be here as Walrus Audio seems to have near enough copied their Iridium Pedal formula - blow-for-blow - they’re even priced at the exact same $399 level!
And while there are some slight differences - most of the advantages seem to lean towards the ACS1 - obviously smaller footprint - and a little more surface-accessible functionality.
The differences in real terms are quite small - but it’s neat on the ACS1 in particular how you can press on the Boost Footswitch and then adjust Volume and Gain dials to select just how much Boost to apply.
It’s also neat how easy it is to apply different Amps and Cabs across Left + Right Channels. The ACS1 has 3 footswitchable presets - which you set by holding down both Bypass and Boost footswitches - while a short press on the two simultaneously will scroll through the 3 available Presets - which is 2 more than the Iridium’s ’Favourite’. I’m not sure how relevant 6 vs 3 IR’s / Cab options are - as the important thing here really is the quality of algorithms rather than their quantity.
I’m also not entirely sure about the fact that the ACS1’s Marshall Amp flavour is purported to be Blues Breaker style, while the Iridium is the largely more preferable Plexi variety - I am rather assuming these are just differentiators really so that the ACS1 does not look too much like the straight-up copy it mostly is. The point is both of them are aiming at that classic chewy Marshall sound - so the labels here might just be something of a red herring.
I don’t think there’s too much point in discussing relevant fidelity and authenticity here either - and Strymon’s longer and more significant track-record in this area. In the end it’s down to which Amp take / tuning you prefer and how it feels under your fingers. In comparing them head-to-head there will obviously be players who prefer the sound and feel of Strymon’s Algorithms and DSP programming over Walrus Audio’s and vice versa.
In terms of a lot of the more salient practicalities - the ACS1 might have a slight edge, while I await the verdict of the proper head-to-head testing to see / hear how players generally react to each pedal’s comparative algorithms and which one’s they tend to favour. The worst outcome for the consumer is that if they perform largely the same - while you prefer say the Vox voicing on the ACS1, but the Marshall voicing on the Iridium!
Superficially - these are really close - and I’m a fan of both of these manufacturers - so it’s really tricky to call right now. Some will feel that the ACS1 maybe copies the Iridium too closely - but then the Iridium formula was nigh perfect anyway.
It will be an interesting contest to watch. I am sure eventual pricing differentials will come into play too - particularly across international borders.
The one thing that seems to be clear thus far is that Walrus Audio is the big winner of 2021 Virtual NAMM / Believe In Music Week.
What are your thoughts?
Iridium owners - are you bothered?
Fantastic proper head-to-head from Henning
Both solutions are really compelling, possibly the Iridium edges it for me on the much superior Marshall voicing and cabs - while the ACS1 is the more technically innovative and sounds a little 'livelier' overall. As Henning says - it depends largely what kind of material you play - the Iridium definitely has more gain on tap as our friend Cyril pointed out in his insights below.
As I feared - there is no clear winner here really - it will depend entirely on usage scenarios and your own preferences!