Badwater - Walrus AudioJun 08 2022
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The Badwater Bass Preamp and D.I. by Walrus Audio is the equivalent of a pocket knife for your bass sound.
The feature set is designed so it has just the right tools at your disposal:
- D.I. and line-out (one can go to front of house, one to your amp)
- EQ with parametric midrange control
- An optical compressor
- Drive section with blend control and 3 voicings
- Ground lift
If I could make a wish for a potential V2 (the Goodwater, haha), it would be a headphone out and probably an effects loop, just for inserting a cab sim before the D.I. out.
The amount of knobs on the Badwater might be intimidating at first glance. But if you play with it for a few minutes, everything makes perfect sense real quick.
I always lean towards a slightly driven bass sound. That just sits better in a mix. Dialed in correctly, you should be able to hear the bass line melody without it overpowering the mix. It should make the whole track feel better, and not just be another guitar one octave lower.
The Badwater makes it easy dial in a sound that fulfills these criteria. The drive section adds a nice presence to the sound. You can dial back some of the harsher overdrive frequencies with the "high" and "blend" control. The voice toggle affects which frequencies are being emphasized by the drive (high, mid, and low frequency).
The compressor is quite subtle. Playing without other instruments in the track, it's more of a feel thing for the player. Turning up the sustain, especially for cleaner sounds, makes the bass sit better in the mix.
The parametric EQ for the mids makes this a tone shaper. It really helps to bring the bass forward, or make room for a busy guitar part. However, the choice for the mid frequencies seemed odd to me:
- Low mid sweep: 500 Hz - 2.4 kHz, +/- 10 dB
- High mid sweep: 3.5 Khz - 7.5 KHz, +/- 10 dB
From my limited knowledge of mixing bass, low mids around 200 - 300 Hz is where the money is for "weight". 500 Hz - 2.4 kHz is where the guitars live usually. I'd use the Badwater probably to cut this band to make room for guitars.
Finally, around 3 kHz is where I like to boost. This makes the bass come forward in the mix without muddying up the guitars. The EQ of the Badwater has a gap here.
It makes up for this with the different drive voicings, which tend to add harmonics in the upper midrange.
All that said, it was easy to dial in a good sound with the Badwater that mixed nicely with the backing track.
- Fender JMJ Mustang, Fender flatwounds, played with pick, tone 100% up
- Iridium, preamp section bypassed, cab sim with an OwnHammer AMPG cab as demoed here. The cab mix I chose was a 4x10 cab with "fat" voiced microphones.
I wanted to make the bass sound as untreated as possible so you mostly hear what the Badwater does. I really can't stand overdriven bass without a cab sim behind it. That's why I have the cab sim as the last stage for all sounds you're hearing.
You don't need an Iridium for that, there are free IR loader plugins for your DAW. This was just the most convenient way for me.
Also, I can't tell you how this sounds through a PA on a live stage, D.I. without cab sim. It might be fine, I just lack live experience as a bass player.
Atmospheric pad sounds
You can hear this best in the intro part of the loop.
- K'mo Memphis Std., T-style neck pickup
- Just a two-note interval played once into the Walrus Audio Slö in dream mode with the endless sustain engaged
- Into the SS/BS Mini on a low gain setting
- Then, on another track, same interval played into the CBA Mood, which plays back an ambient, lo-fi micro loop
- Again into the Mini on low gain
- Both into the Iridium in chime mode, mixed to taste to get this dreamy, lo-fi pad.
Main Guitar (arpeggios)
- K'mo Memphis Std., middle position
- Mini (low gain)
- Walrus Audio Polychrome on a "spicy chorus" setting
- Slö in dream mode, medium mix and modulation
- Iridium (chime)
- Two takes, panned 20% left and right
Guitar Overdubs (strummed chords)
These are a little buried in the mix. They're just strummed chords that accentuate the main guitar arpeggios. You probably can't hear them, but you would notice it if they were gone. They add another dimension for that 80s reverb feel and add more weight to the arpeggiated notes of the main guitar.
- K'mo Memphis Std, neck pickup
- Mini (low gain)
- CBA Mood for lo-fi reverb
- Iridium (chime)
- Two takes, hard-panned left and right
- GarageBand Drummer Gavin (indie rock) on the Brooklyn kit
- Kick and snare treated with a stock Rat-style pedal plugin and mixed in to make the drums more gritty
- Some compression
Everything was mixed with a exciter, subtle compression and limiter on the master track to glue everything together.
- Get detailed specs on Walrus Audio's website