Compression is one of those effects that you don’t miss until you have to live without it. Or, to flip the equation a little bit, one of those effects that you don’t realise you need until you try it. On paper, the role of a compressor is clear: it lowers the volume of loud sounds and raises the volume of quiet ones. This keeps everything in a nice musical range, helping you to fill out a mix and making sure your quiet notes aren’t too quiet.
GIMME A SQUEEZE
Compressors can be as simple or as complex as you want them to be, but TC Electronic has pulled off quite a revolutionary feat with the Spectracomp. It’s a full-featured multiband bass compressor – meaning you can dial in different compression levels and ratios for different portions of your signal – and yet it’s all controlled with a single knob that governs a whole bunch of behind-the-scenes settings. On the surface there’s just that single knob, a true bypass footswitch, in and out jacks and a 9v DC power jack. There’s also a USB jack, which hints at the Spectracomp’s true potential. All of its deeper controls live on the free editor, where you can take control of parameters such as compression blend, crossover frequencies, threshold and knee.
So how are you going to use this little beastie in a musical context? One great trick is to dial in a very squished low end so you’ve always got a very full, subby bass thang happening. Then have a bit more space in the midrange while leaving your high end to roam free. This lets you force notes to jump out in the mix when you need them to while keeping the overall feel of the track intact. Or you can go the other way: really clamp down on the high end while keeping the lows a little more open. Or compress the heck out of the upper mids to emphasise pick attack in a metal band. This is also a great pedal for moving around in the signal chain, and you’ll get different things out of it if it’s feeding an overdrive compared to if it’s following one.
Ok so it’s a minor pain in the butt to know that if you want to change a crucial setting in the middle of a gig you have to whip out your iPhone and beam 90s modem noises into your rig, but putting that concern aside, this is an extremely powerful pedal that can easily adapt to any situation.
For more info on TC Electronic products, visit www.ambertech.com.au.
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