Purchased from: Sonuus
Ease of Use — 9
Moving in and out of any of the effects involve nothing more than stepping on a switch, moving the pedal, etc. Developing unique sounds is more challenging, or would be more challenging with a typical pedal - and with so many options available on the Voluum, dialing into sounds and fine-tuning them is only somewhat straightforward initially. Sonuus took care of this for the non-gear-nerds like me and with their integrated software. With the Voluum connected via USB to your computer, it communicates to user-friendly and highly intuitive software so that you can edit the Gate, Compressor, LFO (trem), Volume, and Limiter effects easily and with zero experience - you can see and hear the results in real-time and save the patch if desired. Within minutes I was able to tweak some of their factory settings to my preferences. The manual also is spot-on... clear, precise with easy to find information. However, with the software the Voluum is easy enough to use that you likely will not refer to the manual much.
Sound — 10
This stomp box for guitar and bass uses a patent-pending sensor (superior to optical sensors), which means no pots to wear, no scratching, no popping... no noise except the pure signal of your guitar. It also offers a transparent-true-bypass or a buffered-bypass (ideal if using long stage cables when you want to preserve tone). In a nutshell, the sounds are superb because the Voluum is so crystal clear and without altering the original signal, which brings up a vital point: typical volume pedals act like the volume knob on your guitar, altering tone as you ascend or descend in volume; conversely, the Voluum does not compromise tone and lets you cut or boost the signal to any level you desire, including upward of a 30dB boost above normal level - and the Voluum's foot pedal can be adjusted depending on how you prefer to map the volume change. For example, you can have complete silence when the pedal rocks back only half way, or you can increase the volume by 10dB when pressed all the way forward.
This is only the beginning since this pedal also has a Gate, Limiter, Compressor and LFO (tremolo) functions that can be included or excluded in patch settings, all at the same time or in any combination, thus making it highly diverse - more of a multi-effects stomp box than a one-trick pony as its name (Voluum) implies. And more than just the volume can be affected by the foot pedal. For instance, you can adjust how much compression your signal has (and change the attack and release times of the Compression) and even give your guitar a signal boost in the process (ideal when switching from rhythm to lead). Each function also can be adjusted with a wide range of parameters, e.g., determine how quickly the Gate/Expander reacts and how much the signal should be reduced, soft-limit the signal peaks with the Limiter, etc. In other words, take any quality gate, limiter, compressor pedal and think of any editing possibilities and the Voluum can match it. Therefore, although this pedal is larger than many other volume-based pedals, it offers all those additional function that can allow you to clean up your pedal board.
And this brings us to the LFO/Tremolo function, which is the true icing on the cake. Nearly every pedal board has some type of modulation or tremolo pedal, but the Voluum has taken this to new heights. You can have either one or two LFOs (waves include sinusoid, triangular, square, saw up, saw down, trapezoid and random), their measures could be of any value, and you even can alter the dB (volume) of the oscillations involved. Think about it; whether using the pedal or creating a fixed envelop, you have the ability to modulate among hi and lo settings for non-static and very exciting transitions/sounds. The possibilities are almost limitless, from basic 1960s surf music to synth-like effects, which is why the Voluum pedal has 39 pre-sets to showcase both a number of volume and compression applications, along with a few dozen of tremolo-type effects, as well as 100 user pre-set spots for your own custom effects. The Voluum also includes a tap tempo function if you would rather not key-in the BPM settings. On that note, the YouTube video below demonstrates various BPMs over a song that is 70 BPM (some tremolo responses are 70 BPM, whereas others are a multiple of that number, e.g., 140 BPM, 21o BPM, etc.). The Tremolo function does include a "clock multiplier," but I altered the effects manually and saved them as patches:
Reliability & Durability — 10
Made from heavy-duty cast aluminum, the patent-pending sensor is not of the optical variety, the latter of which are susceptible to dirt and often do not respond as fast or as sensitively as you will find with the Voluum pedal. There also are roller bars to protect the knobs and buttons from foot stomping, as well as a "lock" mechanism so that you do not alter any saved settings while gigging. And although I don't gig my gear, the Voluum can use 9V or high-capacity AA batteries along with a regular power output for uninterrupted signal response. However, I use the USB connection, direct from my computer, so that I don't have to bother with additional adapters.
Overall Impression — 10
When Sonuus brought out their Wahoo (wah) pedal, I was blown away - every conceivable wah variation you could think of, and the ability to customize beyond that and save another 100 pre-sets. The Voluum pedal is no different, and it is far more than a volume pedal - this is high-end gear that affects "volume" and the signal output in as many ways as your imagination allows. Besides what I've described, other functions include a MIDI interface (to send and receive messages and to sync up with a sequencer), the ability to see your patch and metering levels live (gate, volume and compression) and to adjust the LED brightness (great on-stage gear), completely silent transitioning of the effect when using the foot pedal and if switching between a clean signal and the Voluum, low battery indicator and free firmware updating (OSX and Windows). This is one of those five-star pedals that need to be on a wish list.