Chaos Audio has launched an intriguing new Bluetooth-enabled multi-effects unit on Kickstarter called Stratus. It’s intriguing because it goes at the whole multi-effects proposition from an interesting new angle, and allows control via the Chaos Audio App for iOS and Android.
Chaos Audio Stratus
The Chaos Audio Stratus combines a multi-effects platform, looper and guitar tuner into one unit. Rather than confront the user with banks of knobs and rows of switches, the Stratus has one single parameter control – that also doubles up as an extra footswitch for the looper. The only other way of interfacing with the device is an on/off switch for the effects and tuner. So how do you set this up, then? The Chaos Audio App allows users to edit effects, download more virtual effect modules, control how they behave and all that. “Stratus is the guitar pedal re-imagined,” says Landon McCoy, founder and CEO of Chaos Audio. It’s certainly a minimalist take, that’s for pretty darn sure.
The Stratus houses only one LED panel you use for the tuner and to display the built-in metronome. That makes for a very clean, utilitarian look. The companion app does everything else, letting you delve deep into your effects setup, customise it and load virtual rigs as needed. The only other functions on the Stratus unit are a USB-C port, a pair of 1/4-inch mono jacks and a DC power input. This can be used to charge the internal rechargeable battery, which can go for seven hours of a single charge.
Let’s take a closer look at the effects and how they’re managed. The palette of effects includes all the usual suspects like overdrive, phaser, flanger, delay, auto-wah and reverbs. You can chain up to 5 effects in any order. Under the hood the Stratus uses an ARM Cortex A8 CPU with 512mb RAM and 4GB of storage. That should be more than capable handling complex effects in series.
While it feels like an advantage to be able to download new effects in the future, I feel that the Stratus should perhaps have included some assignable physical control knobs, purely for for ease of use. Chaos Audio is planning a five-button switchboard add-on that will let you activate each of the effects individually with a physical footswitch, to give you the feeling of using a faux pedalboard.
Will it fly?
You can follow and back the project using the link below. It sounds genuinely interesting! The Stratus reminds me a little of the Zoom MultiStomp* pedals in that you can add new effects. It’s an idea that has been around in various formats for some time. But if Chaos Audio can reach its goal and maintain support for the Stratus, it could be a useful unit for some musicians.
The proof will be the quality of the effects and the ongoing support for the hardware/software. Apart from the price, I think these two crucial elements will make or break the Stratus. We’re looking forward to seeing how the Stratus is going to develop in the future.
RRP – USD 249 via Kickstarter pledge
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- Chaos Audio Stratus: Chaos Audio
- Chaos Audio Stratus chains 5 effects in any order: Chaos Audio