Many players can be happy with simple delay, but sometimes that’s just not enough. That's where the Meris Polymoon shines above the average delay pedal.
I’m always on the hunt for a good complex delay, something that takes you to another planet with the turn of a few knobs. The Polymoon does exactly that, and has a bunch of incredible features that can turn any source into a sonic soundscape.
Watch Vintage King's Dustin McLaughlin's Meris Polymoon delay pedal demo below and continue on to read the rest of Bryan Reilly's First Listen.
The Polymoon is similar in design to other Meris pedals, as it features six knobs and two foot switches. For normal delay effects, set the time of the delay with the Time control. When turned all the way to the right, the pedal will give up to 1200mS of delay. Time can also be controlled with the Tap Tempo foot switch.
When using the pedal's six selectable Multiply control settings, each will send a different number of delay taps to the output. Just a little movement on this control will create a whole new rhythmic pattern. It’s fun to mess around with this on the fly and end up in a completely new pattern.
Use the Feedback control to dial in the number of repeats. If this is set fairly short, you’ll get the standard one to four repeats. If you turn this all the way up, you can create an infinite feedback loop. Messing around with the Time and Multiply controls while the pedal is in a feedback loop creates some explosive soundscapes.
The Mix control will dial in a blend between the original dry signal and the processed sound of the Polymoon. You can create some lush but subtle background ambiance by dialing in a long delay with a lot of feedback, then setting the mix control between five and ten percent. This will leave a majority of the signal dry so you can hear all the definition of the performance, but let through a tiny bit of what would be a massive ambient pad to add some space.
Having the Mix control all the way up will remove the dry signal from the path completely, leaving only the ambiance. If you’re stacking layers of guitars, doing a take with the wet mix at 100% can help create an ambient music bed that doesn’t get in the way of the “dry” performance.
The true power of the Polymoon lies within the Dimension and Dynamics controls. The Dimension control works pretty much like a reverb mix, the more you dial in, the more lush and pushed back the sound becomes. The Dynamics control dials in the intensity and depth of the Dynamic Flanger. When turned all the way to the left the flanger is off, turned all the way to the right can create some sci-fi effects. You can use the Polymoon as just a flanger if you turn down the other parameters.
The small button above the Bypass foot switch toggles between different sync modes for a phaser. When no LEDs are highlighted the phaser is bypassed. With slow selected, the phaser will have a fixed speed of .1 Hz. In Sync mode, the speed is linked to a quarter note of the delay time. You can engage both modes at the same time to link the speed to a whole note of the delay time.
I spent a lot of time just messing around with these basic functions. You can completely change the character of the sound with a small turn of any dial, the possibilities for sound design with these six controls and one button are endless. Then Meris takes it to the next level with the ALT functions.
By holding down the ALT button and changing any setting, the control knob has a completely different function. This can allow you to even further shape the soundscape you just created. It’s good to know what parameters you’re adjusting, when I was first doing this blind, it was hit or miss if the sound ended up “better.” If you over do one of these ALT functions, the sound can run off to outer space. The ALT functions aren’t labeled on the pedal, you have to refer to the Meris website or the Polymoon manual to find out what they do.
I thought the pedal couldn’t be more out of this world until I got the hang of dialing in the ALT functions. Each parameter does something unique to enhance the sound and a little goes a long way.
Time Control ALT Function: This blends in a triangle waveform modulation to the early delay taps. This adds some nice vibe when it’s slightly blended in, maybe like five to ten percent. If you crank this control, it will completely bend the sound to make FM effects and pitch modulations.
Multiply Control ALT Function: This adds the same modulation, but to the later delay taps. Being able to individually control both ends of the delay taps let the initial note of the performance go through without being clouded up by modulation, but then dial in more to the later taps so the tail of the notes had added ambiance.
Feedback Control ALT Function: This engages a filter to the Feedback section. If it’s set to Noon the filter will be bypassed, turning it counterclockwise will make the tone darker, turning it clockwise will make the filter brighter. This was fun to mess around with when I had some really long delays happening. While the delay was feeding back, I would sweep through the filter. It had a smaller effect while I was first sweeping, but the remaining feedback delays after the filtering were being altered.
Dimension Control ALT Function: This will activate the Dynamic Flanger Mode with three different modes. Set to the minimum setting for Envelope Down, set the dial to noon for Envelope up, or you can engage the LFO if you turn the control all the way up. The Dynamic Flanger can be a cool flavor in the sound, but this is one of the controls that can run away really fast and begin to dominate every other part of the soundscape. The ALT mode for the Dynamics control will set the speed of the Dynamic Flanger or LFO depending on what mode you have selected.
Mix Control ALT Function: This will set the gain of the wet signal. It will be at a nominal level if turned all the way up, or can be attenuated -12dB. You can engage auto-scaling so the volume will adjust depending on the blended amount by turning the dial all the way down.
I was so inspired by the sound of the Polymoon and how many different shapes it could take, I thought it would be fun to track a simple song where all the tones are somehow effected through the Polymoon. I created a Pro Tools session, brought in a kick and snare sample from one of the last projects I was producing, placed the kick on one and three, the snare on two and four and let the loop ride.
Starting with recording an electric guitar, I just left the Polymoon on the same settings from the last time I was messing around with it. I had no idea what I was going to play, I let the loop run for a couple bars and played the first chord I was feeling, ended up being Emaj7. I ended up doing a take that was a little over a minute long, had some cool improv changes in there I wouldn’t normally do, tone was killer from the Polymoon, so I decided to roll with it.
I wanted to see how many guitars I could stack before it was just too much. So I kept randomly turning the control knobs and blindly changing the ALT functions to create a new tone for each take. I ended up layering eight tracks of guitars on a tune that is less than two minutes. With the right volume blend between all of them it doesn’t really seem like eight guitar tracks, it sounds like one massive wall of sound but you can still hear the chord changes.
On top of this, I added two layers of live drums. I used a mono overhead for both tracks, for the first take I played brushes on the snare that were working with the kick and snare groove I looped earlier. The second take I also used brushes, but this time on the toms accenting the groove of the snare drum.
I thought it would be cool to send the live drums out to an amp through the Polymoon, record that and then blend it in with the dry drums. As I was tracking the reamped drum takes, I was messing around with the parameters on the Polymoon to create a one-of-a-kind ambient performance. Once blended together, the raw live drums had this ethereal quality to them, another sound I’ve never heard before but really liked.
The Polymoon costs $299 through Vintage King, which is a great price point for how massive this pedal sounds. Delays this complex are often times way too expensive, but it’s nice to find one with so much control in a reasonable price range.