Feb 21, 2018

Is it possible to reinvent the distortion pedal?

Canada’s Nanolog Audio thinks so. The Edmonton, Alberta, pedal maker has introduced the WaveFunction, a versatile pedal that uses both traditional and innovative techniques to produce a range of overdriven tones.

At the heart of the WaveFunction is a new approach to signal clipping. In traditional distortion pedals, the effect is produced by clipping diodes. They follow in the circuit after tubes, transistors or op-amps, which amplify the input signal so that it can be clipped by the diodes, thereby creating the distortion sounds guitarists know and love.

Over the years, pedal makers have used different types of diodes to create a variety of distortion textures. Germanium varieties sound smooth, silicon diodes are harsher, and LEDs—the familiar light-emitting diodes—produce even gnarlier tones.

The WaveFunction expands the palette further still. In addition to offering conventional germanium and silicon clipping, it features what Nanolog calls “Nanolog Device Technology.” According to the company, “The technology is built on carbon molecular junctions that allow for a new palette of sounds not available with silicon diodes. It lets us fine-tune the types of sounds that can be achieved in a way not possible before.”

This technology is featured in the WaveFunction’s N1 and N2 settings. The first, N1, sounds like a slightly fatter silicon diode, while the second, N2, is considerably more aggressive.

Both settings are chosen using the WaveFunction’s Clip Toggle, whose four selections include conventional germanium and silicon clipping using the familiar 1N34A and 1N4148 diodes, respectively. The pedal’s other controls include Volume, Gain, Treble Cut and Bass Cut.

Nanolog isn’t the only company taking a fresh approach to the standard distortion pedal. As we reported in early February, Gamechanger Audio debuted the Plasma Pedal high-voltage distortion unit at Winter NAMM 2018. Whereas the WaveFunction focuses on clipping technology, the Plasma Pedal employs a new means of amplifying the signal ahead of the diodes, using high-voltage plasma discharges within a xenon-filled tube.

The Nanolog WaveFunction is available for $219. Go here to order.

To hear the WaveFunction in action, check out the two videos below. In the first, Ryan from 60 Cycle Hum explores its various settings and tones. In the second, Nick from JustNickMusic takes you through the pedal’s features and digs into the innovative technology behind it.

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