CompIQ MINI Pro Compressor Pedal for Bass & Guitar

195,00 

In stock

Build to order, 4-7 workdays

SKU: CIQ-2 Categories: ,


You can order this product in the USA from Gear Hero HQ.

The CompIQ MINI Pro MK2 is an exceptionally powerful analog compressor/limiter packed with unique features in an ultra-compact mini pedal format, perfect for detailed control of dynamic signal processing. It delivers outstanding results with all instruments, especially with guitar and bass. What sets the MINI apart is the groundbreaking combination of Blackmer® VCA-based selectable Feed Forward / Feed-Back compression along with a multitude of other control parameters and a precision Gain Reduction Meter. The CompIQ MINI Pro introduces a new standard of innovation in compressor pedals, delivering professional results in an incredibly small package.

Becos FX CompIQ Mini Pro Compressor review - Guitar World - Platinum Award - June 2021Functionality is top-notch, and it’s astounding that Becos can deliver such a high level of pristine compression in such a tiny housing.

Gitarre und Bass - CompIQ Mini ReviewFrom percussive sounds for tapping or funk to worn solos with volume boost and pumping bass, the device can cover everything.

Compressor Pedal Reviews - CompIQ MiniThis micro pedal packs more tweak-ability options than you would find in many compressor pedals more than twice its size.

Premier GuitarIf you crave control and nuance, then this might be the squish box for you.

 Manual V2.0 | V1.4, V1.3 | V1.2, V1.1, V1.0
 Video Demo
 Compare compressors
 What people say
 CompIQ 101
 CompIQ MINI Pro vs. other minions

Studio-quality compression in a mini-pedal format

The CompIQ MINI Pro is an analog compressor pedal primarily tailored for guitar and bass but it can be used with any other instrument. It is built around the advanced 4320 THAT Analog Engine®, which delivers studio-quality compression in the most compact form. With precise signal processing, including a true RMS-level detector and a high-performance Blackmer® VCA, this pedal offers professional compression and limiting, setting new standards for its size.

Gitarre und Bass - Becos CompIQ MINI Pro Compressor Review

I can’t think of any devices that are similarly small and can do nearly as much with studio-ready sound quality. Despite the reduced size, the CompIQ Mini adopted the essential aspect of its siblings – the clean compression. And that without compromises.

With Ratio, Threshold, Gain, and Dry/Wet Mix controls, the CompIQ MINI allows for precise manual adjustment of compression settings, resulting in a balanced and refined sound. Its Compression Knee feature, which can be set to either Soft or Hard, lets users fine-tune the compression effect for various musical styles. The Soft Knee option offers subtle and transparent compression, while the Hard Knee option delivers a more pronounced effect, particularly suitable for “country” or specific bass playing styles where dynamic output is a key effect. Additionally, the CompIQ MINI Pro serves as an excellent limiting effect or compressor/sustainer pedal by adjusting the ratio, threshold, timing, and hard knee settings.

Guitar World - A top-quality VCA-style compressor in a mini-pedal format, with every control you might need, the Becos FX has put the squeeze on the competition here.

A top-quality VCA-style compressor in a mini-pedal format, with every control you might need, the Becos FX has put the squeeze on the competition here. Within minutes it’s easy to figure out how the controls and switches affect the dynamic range (much like rack compressors) and harmoniously work together to smoothly administer the amount of compression and limiting you’re willing to feel and hear.

The CompIQ MINI Pro features a uniquely advanced side chain circuit that provides two compression modes, Feed Forward and Feed-Back, along with a Variable Side Chain Filter for precise compression adjustments, catering to both classic smoothness and modern dynamic sound.

Feed Forward processing emphasizes speed and accuracy, using a pre-VCA copy of the input signal. It can deliver subtle compression or brick-wall limiting based on control settings. In contrast, Feed-Back compression resembles “old-school” circuits, offering a smoother and more natural sound. It uses a post-VCA copy of the audio signal, preserving instrument character and dynamics without pumping or breathing.

While Feed-Back mode excels at low-to-medium compression ratios, it’s less suitable for hard peak limiting. Nonetheless, the MINI can function as a genuine Feed-Back limiter when you combine threshold adjustment, a hard knee, a higher ratio, fast timing, and a boosted control signal in the side chain filter.

It’s worth mentioning that the compression modes can partially overlap in their effect, based on their settings. The high-performance Blackmer® VCA in the Analog Engine® guarantees distortion-free operation in both modes.

The MINI features a variable side chain filter, specially tuned around the 90 Hz frequency point, which conditions the control signal. The filter’s range can be adjusted from Low-Pass to Normal to High-Pass mode. The effect of this filter on the side chain signal is opposite to that on the compressor’s output signal. In addition, it progressively compensates for the low amplitude of highs above 1kHz. This unique feature, combined with the characteristics of the RMS-level detector, helps the compressor achieve exceptional transparency and a natural sound, closely resembling human hearing.

Rotating the dial clockwise engages the High-Pass Filter, leading to the attenuation of frequencies below 90 Hz in the side chain. This results in reduced compression for these frequencies in the output signal. When the filter is set at the center of its range, the side chain filter operates in a “normal” mode, providing a more consistent control frequency range to the RMS-level detector. In this setting, compression is activated by high-amplitude low frequencies that reach the threshold first.

Conversely, a counterclockwise turn transforms the filter into a Low-Pass Filter, which amplifies the control frequencies below 90 Hz. This adjustment heightens the sensitivity of the side chain to high-amplitude lows, leading to increased compression in the output. This configuration is well-suited for applications like country music with a plucking style, bass limiting, or instruments lacking low-frequency content that can trigger compression, such as guitars equipped with thin-sounding single coils.

Premier Guitar - Becos CompIQ MINI Pro Compressors Quick Hit Review

It’s easy to see how the CompIQ Pro would be a welcome addition to any board—cramped or not. If you crave control and nuance, then this might be the squish box for you.

The Dynamic Auto Attack & Release Timing circuitry eliminates the need for a dedicated attack switch or manual controls, offering precise timings for all playing styles. It provides two timing options: Fast and Slower, accommodating both attack and release timings.

Fast timings deliver a modern, crisp, punchy sound, especially effective with a hard knee compression setting for limiting effects. When using the blend knob, it’s ideal for parallel compression, also known as the New York compression style.

In contrast, Slower timings are better suited for slower musical phrasings like bass lines or arpeggiated chords. However, experimentation is encouraged, as the ear is the ultimate judge. The dynamic auto-timing ensures high sound quality, quickly releasing fast transients while maintaining a slow decay for steady signals. The release time typically ranges from 10-15 times the attack time in each setting.

Compression level, or gain reduction, is visually represented by a 5-LED display, offering real-time feedback on the extent of signal reduction during compression.

In its inactive state, True-Bypass routing maintains the integrity of the bass or guitar signal chain, ensuring no alteration, whether the pedal is powered or not.

Extensive review of CompIQ MINI Pro Compressor on TalkBass.com Forum

There are other small format compressors on the market but I’m not aware of anything that comes close to the punch Becos packs into the CompIQ MINI Pro. It works great with bass. This little pedal rivals many full-featured compressors on the market at a fraction of the size.

Pristine audio processing

The CompIQ series of compressors preserves the unique tonal characteristics of the input signal. They provide pristine audio compression and offer a high dynamic range, which enables clean, natural-sounding tones with minimal noise and no artifacts or distortions in any settings.

Key features 

  • Blackmer® VCA / RMS-level Analog Engine® ensures professional compressor/limiter function
  • Feed Forward / Feed-Back compression
  • True RMS-level detector
  • Ratio 1:1 to inf:1 (limiter) in Feed Forward mode; 1:1 to 10:1 in Feed-Back mode
  • Threshold -40dBu to +10dBu
  • Make-up Gain -6dB to +20dB
  • Hard / Soft compression knee
  • Fast / Slower dynamic attack and release timings
  • Variable Side Chain Filter (raises or lowers control frequencies in the side chain ±12dB @ 90 Hz, 12dB/oct. imparting an opposite effect on the working signal at the output of the compressor)
  • Dry / Wet mix
  • 5-LEDs compression display
  • True analog bypass
  • High-end quality Burr-Brown FET audio ICs, low tolerance metal-film resistors, Panasonic, Kemet, Cornell Dubilier plastic film audio capacitors, Gold-plated PCB, Gold-plated micro-switches
  • Black powder-coated Hammond aluminum enclosure
  • 9-12 V DC external power supply (not included), center negative, 12mm long barrel plug
  • 3-year premium warranty (direct to manufacturer, international, transferable)
  • Hand-assembled in Vienna, Austria

Note! Optimal configuration of the CompIQ MINI for studio recording or live performances typically necessitates a solid understanding of audio compression.


 

Reviews

For more reviews, mentions, and information, please visit our Blog.

CompIQ MINI Pro Compressor reviewed by Guitar World Magazine

Guitar World Magazine Platinum Award 🏆 Functionality is top-notch, and it’s astounding that Becos can deliver such a high level of pristine compression in such a tiny housing. It’s so essential and good, I can’t take it off my pedalboard – actually, I refuse to take it off.

CompIQ Mini reviewed by Gitarre Und Bass Magazine

Not long after the comprehensive CompIQ Twain & Stella review published in June 2020, Gitarre & Bass is now following with a new review in the December 2020 Issue – this time for the CompIQ Mini.

Best high-end MINI Compressor Pedals - Delicious Audio

CompIQ MINI included in the Best High-End Mini Compressor Pedals of 2021 by Delicious Audio

The Becos CompIQ MINI Pro is a studio-grade mini VCA-style compressor pedal providing essential controls and also a Soft/Hard compression knee option. Dynamic Auto Attack & Release Timing circuitry replaces the need for a dedicated attack knob, with a toggle switch allowing to pick Fast or Slow dynamic response.

CompIQ MINI Pro Compressor for Bass

A comparative analysis of 6 compressor pedals: Becos CompIQ Mini, Smoothie, Keeley Bassist, FEA DE-CL, Duncan Studio Bass, MXR 143 (80’s red box / AC cord)

A comparative analysis of 6 compressor pedals – Becos CompIQ Mini, Smoothie, Bassist, FEA DE-CL, Duncan Studio Bass, MXR 143 (80’s red box / AC cord) – made by two users on Talkbass Forum finds the CompIQ MINI Pro Compressor a winner.

Atsushikubo CompIQ MINI Review

CompIQ MINI Pro extensive video review-demo made by Atsushikubo 🇯🇵

はい、こちら、ベコスのコンプIQミニ、こんなちっちゃいんだよ、このミニサイズ、もうピント合わないくらいミニサイズなんだけど、このサイズなのにめちゃめちゃいろいろセッティングできます、そして出てくる音が、超ナチュラル、尋常じゃないぐらいナチュラル、はい、もうね、コンプかかってるかわからないっていうね、表現、よくあるじゃん、ナチュラルなコンプレッサーで、まさに、まさにわからないくらいかかる、いて、がっつりかけることもできるだから、いろんなセッティングがね、パラメーターが、こんなちっちゃいのに、めちゃめちゃ高品質のコンプレッサーです。

More info

 Manual V2.0 | V1.4, V1.3 | V1.2, V1.1, V1.0
 Compare compressors
 What people say
 CompIQ 101
 CompIQ MINI Pro vs. other minions

Box Weight 0,21 kg
Box Dimensions 11 × 6,5 × 5,5 cm
Technical Specifications

Input impedance: 1MΩ
Output impedance: <100Ω
Ratio: 1:1 to inf:1
Threshold: -40dBu to +10dBu
Make-up Gain: -6dB to +20dB
0dB Reference Input Level: -20dBu (77.5mV)
Total amount of compression: usually 20dB for -20dBu (77.5mV) input level; 36dB for +4dBu (1.23Vrms) input level, all at inf:1 Ratio
Dynamic Auto Attack time: ~7ms in Fast setting; ~15ms in Slower setting
Dynamic Auto Release time: ~70ms in Fast setting; ~220ms in Slower setting
Dynamic Timing: transients are handled faster; steady signals are held until the signal drops below the threshold level
Variable Side-Chain Filter: continuous adjustment from Low-pass (+12dB@90Hz, 12dB/oct) to Normal ("flat") to High-pass (-12dB@90Hz, 12dB/oct); compensated, non-linear above 1KHz
THD: <0.1% 1kHz, 0dBu in/out, 600Ω load, 24KHz BW, 12VDC power, through 6th harmonic
Max Input Level: +5.5dBu
Max Output Level: +5.5dBu
Frequency response: -2dB @ 40Hz; 0dB in between 100Hz and 22KHz
5-LEDs Gain Reduction Display: calibrated for -20dBu reference input level
Voltage Range: 9-12VDC, center negative [ – ], power supply not included
DC Power Plug Barrel: Ø 5.1/2.1mm, 12mm long
Current consumption: < 15mAh @ 9VDC; < 23mAh @ 12VDC
Simulate on pedalboard: Pedaltrain's https://pedalboardplanner.com

Note! The product name, design, circuit, components, description, pictures, technical specifications, functionality, etc. may change anytime and without prior notice (Terms and Conditions). We advise you to check the manual (only available as a downloadable PDF above in this page) for details on the product's current features and functionality. If you spot errors, inconsistencies, or if you need more information or assistance, please contact us.
The CompIQ series of compressors
|<<     <<     SWIPE TABLE     >>     >>|
Circuit Design
Dynamic Processing
Analog Engines®
Control Element
Side-Chain Topology
Side-Chain Detection
Side-Chain Filter
Side-Chain Frequency Compensation
Voicing
Adjustable Input Level
Peak-level Indicator
Balanced Output
Crossover
Compression Ratio
Threshold
Dynamic Auto Timing
Attack Time
Release Time
Make-up Gain
Compression Knee
EQ
EQ Bypass
Dry/Wet Mix
Saturation
Saturation Filters
Compression Display
9V Battery Operation
DC Power Range
Current Consumption
More Info
Compressor / Limiter
Dual Band / Stacking
2
Blackmer® VCA
Feed Forward / Feed-Back
True RMS-Level Sensor
Variable Lows / Highs
YES
-
±12dB
+0dBu input, +6dBu output
Transformer Balanced / Unbalanced (Floating) with optional DITOS output
Linkwitz–Riley
70Hz to 1KHz
1:1 to inf:1
both bands
-40dBu to +10dBu
both bands
Auto Fast / Slower
F: 5‐7ms / S: 10-15ms
F: 70ms / S: 100‐220ms
-6dB to +20dB
both bands
Hard / Soft
both bands
Unbalance Make-up Gains around X-over frequency pivot
-
YES
MK1
-
6-LED
both bands
-
9-18VDC center negative
Ø 5.1/2.1mm, 12mm long
< 95mAh @ 9VDC
< 170mAh @ 18VDC
Compressor / Limiter
Single Channel
1
Blackmer® VCA
Feed Forward / Feed-Back
True RMS-Level Sensor
Variable Lows / Highs
YES
Flat, Spark, Tight, Punch
-
-
Transformer Balanced / Unbalanced (Floating)
with optional DITOS DI board
-
1:1 to inf:1
-45dBu to +10dBu
Auto Fast / Slower
F: 5‐7ms / S: 10-15ms
Manual: 0.12 to 12 ms/dB
F / S: 70ms / 100‐220ms
Manual: 1.2 to 120 ms/dB
-6dB to +20dB
Hard / Soft
tilting X-EQ ±6dB
around 1kHz / 330Hz frequency pivots
MK1
YES
MK1
MK1
8-LED
YES
9-18VDC center negative
Ø 5.1/2.1mm, 12mm long
< 35mAh @ 9VDC
< 63mAh @ 18VDC
Compressor / Limiter
Single Channel
1
Blackmer® VCA
Feed Forward / Feed-Back
True RMS-Level Sensor
Variable Lows
YES
-
-
-
-
-
1:1 to inf:1
-40dbu to +10dBu
Auto Fast / Slower
F: 5‐7ms / S: 10-15ms
F: 70ms / S: 100‐220ms
-6dB to +20dB
Hard / Soft
-
-
YES
-
-
5-LED
-
9-12VDC center negative
Ø 5.1/2.1mm, 12mm long
< 25mAh @ 9VDC
< 38mAh @ 12VDC
Compressor
Single Channel
1
Blackmer® VCA
Feed Forward
True RMS-Level Sensor
Normal
YES
-
-
-
-
-
1:1 to inf:1
Lo: -40dBu / Hi: -30dBu
Auto Slow
12ms
220ms
-6dB to +20dB
Hard
-
-
YES
-
-
5-LED
-
9-12VDC center negative
Ø 5.1/2.1mm, 12mm long
< 15mAh @ 9VDC
< 23mAh @ 12VDC
MINI Pro vs. other minions

Do you want to know more about mini compressor pedals? We compiled a Technical Shootout for the most performance and popular mini compressor pedals available. Find out how our CompIQ MINIs stand out.

Blackmer® VCA

Originally designed by David Blackmer, the founder of dbx Inc., the dbx 202 “Black Can” Voltage Controlled Amplifiers (VCAs) are still in use in audio consoles today. These pioneering VCAs were the first of their kind suitable for professional audio equipment. They were constructed with a gain cell made up of eight individual transistors. Over time, advancements in integrated circuit technology have surpassed the limitations of earlier designs, leading to significantly improved performance.

For example, the CompIQ series of compressors incorporates THAT Corporation’s Blackmer® VCAs. These VCAs are recognized for their unique exponential control characteristic, where the gain changes directly in decibels. They offer an exceptionally wide dynamic range and maintain low signal distortion. What sets them apart is their neutral tonal character, which means they don’t introduce any significant coloration to audio signals. This makes them an excellent choice for audio professionals seeking high-quality, transparent signal processing.

RMS-Level Sensor

David Blackmer, the founder of dbx Inc., is known for inventing the RMS-level detector. It calculates the Root Mean Square level of input signals in a way that mimics how our ears perceive sound, which is in a logarithmic format.

This detector’s exact envelope is then used to control the Voltage Controlled Amplifier (VCA) based on user-defined settings like Ratio, Knee, SCF, Threshold, Attack, Release, and Gain.

Threshold Range

The CompIQ compressors have a versatile Threshold control that can handle a wide range of input signals, from weak to pro-audio levels, preventing distortion from high-level spikes. The threshold range scale is logarithmic and spans from approximately -40dBu to +10dBu, suitable for various applications. Typically, the optimal threshold for pickup signals falls between -30dBu to -20dBu.

For desired peak compression, set the Threshold knob at around 9 o’clock or slightly higher. Higher compression ratios are unnecessary unless you’re aiming for limiting. If you want more noticeable compression, lower the threshold, but use smaller compression ratios to avoid excessive signal compression, unless you intend to achieve a specific effect, like the “New York compression style,” which blends compressed and unprocessed signals for a balanced dynamic range.

Side Chain Filter

The Side Chain Filter (SCF) is a feature that affects compression based on frequency. It prevents high-amplitude low-frequency content from prematurely triggering compression and dulling the sound. This is achieved by filtering the side-chain downwards from 1kHz, as shown in the graph. By doing this, compression doesn’t affect those specific low frequencies in the VCA that the program sound passes through. As a result, the low frequencies come out louder and less compressed, creating a distinct and fuller, more natural, or punchier sound.

Side Chain HPF Options in CompIQ PRO Stella Compressor (-12dB at 90Hz & -12dB at 200Hz)

Using the SCF helps reduce unwanted pumping artifacts often seen in “high ratio / low threshold” compression techniques. The compression achieved with the SCF is unique compared to other methods of avoiding pumping, like adjusting the threshold, ratio, using soft-knee compression, or mixing dry and wet signals. Combining the SCF with other controls provides more flexibility for applying compression to different audio content.

The SCF circuitry was improved post-2022 for some of our compressors. The MK2 Mini and Stella’s SCF now include a boost function integrated into the same variable control for low-frequencies. Rotating the control CCW boosts the frequency in the side chain, CW cuts it, and center position keeps SC frequencies unchanged. This continuous adjustment adds versatility. Boosting the preset frequency makes the compressor more responsive to those frequencies, useful for weak signals or pickups lacking low-frequency content.

Moreover, Stella MK2 now includes a Highs Side Chain Filter for frequencies above 3K. This refinement helps manage overly bright signals by adjusting compressor sensitivity to target these frequencies selectively.

Side Chain Frequency Compensation

Frequency compensation involves adjusting the audio spectrum for the Side Chain Detector. In music, dominant frequencies and harmonics are present in each note. When notes have lower dominant frequencies, like in low guitar strings, they can trigger compression too soon, over-compressing harmonics and higher notes. To tackle this, we use gradual filtering starting at 20KHz and moving downwards with additional high-pass filters at 1KHz. This progressive approach prevents “pumping” and results in a more natural, dynamic processing, especially noticeable in percussive or bass-rich instruments.

Our compressors use a standard side-chain roll-off curve that aligns with human hearing, reducing -12dB at 2KHz compared to 20KHz.Side Chain HPF Options in CompIQ PRO Stella Compressor (-12dB at 90Hz & -12dB at 200Hz)

For the CompIQ Stella and CompIQ Twain compressors, we offer three Side Chain Filter options: Normal (based on human perception), Low (-12dB per octave at 90Hz), and Deep (-12dB per octave at 200Hz).

The new variable SCF option on the CompIQ Mini can be adjusted by turning the knob clockwise to free up -12dB per octave at 90Hz, suitable for guitar and bass instruments. At noon, the SCF provides Normal processing, and turning the knob counterclockwise boosts low frequencies below 90Hz with up to +12dB per octave, making it more sensitive to signals from instruments like single coil guitars.

Side Chain Feed (Forward/Backward)

The CompIQ Mini, Stella, and Twain models produced after 2022, 2024, and ongoing, offer selectable side chain processing. In Feed-Forward mode, the control signal is pre-VCA, resulting in an fast “in your face” compression feel. The new Feed-Back mode, however, uses the control signal post-VCA for a softer processing feel due to inherently longer attack and release times and the particularity of this way of controlling the side chain. In Feed-Back mode, an adjustable gain control within the VCA reduces overall noise from Make-Up Gain. This way of processing is different from the classical feed-back circuits which usually employ a fixed high gain placed after the gain reduction element.

Though Feed-Back mode limits compression ratio due to finite gain control, our compressors can combine Hard Knee with Fast Auto or Manual Timing (in Stella) for enhanced compression speed and amount. With a higher variable Threshold targeting high-amplitude frequencies, our compressors can effectively function as soft limiters, leaving the core sound intact. Notably, the RMS level sensor also adds to the natural feel of dynamic processing of our compressors.

Crossover

The CompIQ Twain features a variable-range Linkwitz-Riley crossover (70Hz to 1KHz), which splits the input signal into two separate frequency bands processed by dual compression engines. The crossover output also feeds the Dry Line, allowing seamless blending of Dry and Wet signals without phase cancellations, no matter where the crossover is set.

To illustrate, a chart shows matched levels of internal and external circuits with the crossover at 1KHz, output set to buffer level, and Mix at 100% Wet. The chart demonstrates nearly perfect alignment of phase across the audio spectrum.

Twain Crossover Phase Shift Plot

The input signal’s phase remains a straight line, but the output signal’s phase gradually shifts from 0° at the lows to 400° at the highs. This is a normal result of the signal separation and recombination by the crossover’s band filters and compression engines. When switching from Bypass to Effect, there might be a perceived frequency delay, although no audible frequency loss occurs across the audio spectrum.

The following drawing illustrates the Crossover Knob Frequency Scale and the most suitable setting for utilizing the Saturation feature.

CompIQ Twain Crossover Frequencies & Best Saturation Range

CompIQ Twain Crossover Frequencies & Best Saturation Range

Tape Saturation Lo & Hi-Cut filters

Both the CompIQ Stella and CompIQ Twain MK1 compressors offer an analog Tape Saturation circuit that exclusively affects the Dry signal. This lets you add optional saturation to your signal, which can then be blended with the compressed Wet signal to introduce harmonic distortion and warm up the audio while preserving the compressed signal’s dynamics. Note that you might need to dial in some saturation before it becomes audible due to the high headroom of the saturation circuit.

For the CompIQ Stella, you can activate the LPF and HPF by removing the internal jumpers. The CompIQ Twain has variable filters accessible through small trim knobs. The HPF is for the Lows band, and the LPF is for the High band. In both compressors, the HPF is placed before the Saturation engine, while the LPF is positioned after it.

These filters are recommended for use in conjunction with the Tape Saturation feature, as they may affect the clean, dry signal otherwise. The filters were introduced to provide flexibility when processing different audio sources while maintaining musicality and avoiding undesirable artifacts like muddiness in the low end (especially with bass) or harshness with bright guitar pickups.

X-EQ

The X-EQ section comes after the compressor and before the Mix control, affecting only the wet signal. When mixing dry and processed signals, the X-EQ effect gradually diminishes.

In the Stella, the X-EQ has two frequency pivot points for bass (at 330Hz) or guitar (at 1KHz). At extreme knob settings (fully clockwise or counterclockwise), there’s a total 12dB difference between low and high frequencies. When the X-EQ knob is in the central position, no frequency alterations occur. You can bypass the X-EQ section by adjusting a jumper within the pedal (only available for Stella up to V1.3; for V1.4 the jumper is not physically installed but it can be installed by the user if desired, and starting with V2.0 the jumper is no longer available).

Line-level signals

The CompIQ compressor series can handle input signals ranging from +5dBu to +10dBu without distortion, depending on the model and power voltage. They offer a wide 50dB threshold range from -40dBu to +10dBu, making them suitable for magnetic pickups, line-level signals, line-level FX Loops, and high impedance or line-level inputs on recording interfaces. These compressors provide precise compression thanks to the RMS-level detector, and their LED indication is accurate when the input signal is around the calibrated reference level. The CompIQ series internally sets a “0dB reference input level” at -20dBu (77.5mVrms). The amount of compression (inf:1 Ratio) depends on the input signal level and is typically 20dB for input signals around -20dBu (77.5mVrms) and 36dB for +4dBu (1.23Vrms) input signal levels.

Compressor noise

Compressors can introduce noise due to the amplification of make-up gain. As compression increases, more make-up gain is needed, adding noise to the signal. This noise can be further amplified by subsequent pedals or amplifiers in the signal chain. Additionally, any device before the compressor may introduce noise, which gets amplified by the make-up gain circuit.

It’s important to understand that if a compression setting requires a significant amount of make-up gain, noise will become more noticeable during silent parts. The signal-to-noise ratio drops during pauses, where noise may surpass the signal, leading to a negative SNR. Expecting complete silence when applying a +20dB gain is unrealistic. However, compressing at -20dB and then restoring with +20dB results in minimal but still noticeable amplification noise, especially during pauses. If maximum make-up gain is needed, it’s best to use the compressor for peak limiting rather than compressing the entire signal.

To accurately compare compressors for noise, they should be set with the same threshold, ratio, and make-up gain, fed the same reference signal. Some compressors have lower ratio limits, like 3:1 or 7:1, which makes them “quieter” because they require less re-amplification. Note that the term “quiet” is subjective and can be misleading.

In the case of the CompIQ Twain, the Stacked Mode can produce extra noise if not configured properly. The Twain Settings Examples provide guidance on minimizing amplification noise, primarily by adjusting compression and make-up gain in the second (highs) engine more than in the first (lows) engine. You can also manage the frequencies to compress in the second engine by raising the lows threshold, using the Low or Deep side-chain filter, and employing a soft knee to reduce noise or compression feel. Combining these controls in both engines helps find the optimal setting for your specific needs.

Dual-band processing is more complex and requires specialized compression. What works for full-band compression doesn’t directly apply to dual-band compression. The dual-band compressor’s always-on crossover has passive components that inherently generate thermal noise, which is also amplified by make-up gain.

A practical approach is to understand how compression controls (threshold, ratio, knee, timing, blend, side-chain filter, and gain) affect compression and your desired outcome. Adjust these parameters to minimize the need for high make-up gain.

Noise generated by make-up gain is typically lower with higher input signal levels because the signal is larger. When using a limiting setup with a higher threshold, hard knee, and inf:1 ratio that affects only the signal peaks, any noise is usually inaudible.

For weak magnetic pickup signals, using a 4:1 ratio and a low threshold on the CompIQ can provide compression with noise levels similar to studio-grade equipment. You can further reduce noise by blending in dry signal with the MIX control and using a soft knee to minimize the need for make-up gain.

Power sources can introduce noise to electronics. Switching power supplies, in particular, are known for introducing hissing sounds. To minimize this, use well-filtered and regulated power sources. Most pedals aren’t designed for extensive power conditioning and filtering, so it’s essential to use quality power sources separately.

Switching noise
It is possible for pops or static noise to manifest when adjusting certain settings while the pedal is engaged. These settings include the knee, timing, side chain filter, EQ pivot, dual-band/stacked mode, and power on/off.

Gain Reduction Meter

The CompIQ line of compressors features a gain reduction meter to show the amount of compression applied to the input signal in dB. However, the number of LEDs in the meter varies between products and may lead to “invisible” compression between LEDs. To achieve optimal metering, a minimum of 20 LEDs is recommended.

Each product’s metering is designed and calibrated with reference to comparators at 9-12VDC, ensuring an accurate indication of gain reduction. However, the CompIQ Twain can also operate at 18VDC. At 18VDC, some calibrated thresholds for metering may shift, resulting in a metering indication of approximately -3dB less. While running an electronic circuit within a fixed voltage range (plus or minus some tolerance) is proper, operating at 80-100% voltage upshifts may alter certain calibrations within the circuit blocks. While this might have audible advantages, it impacts metering precision and introduces variation.

In rare cases, such as when powering the pedal at a higher voltage and switching the knee, the meter LEDs may appear “locked” and remain lit. This happens due to an electric spike caused by knee switching, briefly activating the LEDs even without an input signal. To prevent this, it’s advisable to switch the knee when no input signal is present but with the input and output plugs inserted into the pedal.

To turn off the remaining lit LEDs, the pedal must be powered off and then on again, or you can play a signal louder than the remaining lit LEDs, resetting the comparators. Alternatively, you can power the pedal with 9-12VDC instead of 18VDC.

Powering voltage range for the CompIQ line of compressors

The CompIQ pedal line can function within a power range of 9-18VDC. However, for optimal performance and circuit protection, certain components like the gain reduction meter are designed and calibrated conservatively to operate within the 9-12VDC range. It’s crucial to use high-quality, regulated power sources because exceeding the 18VDC maximum can potentially damage active components.

To prevent voltage spikes during pedal connection, it’s advisable to connect the pedals before powering on the power supply. Additionally, it’s a good practice to power your entire pedalboard simultaneously by switching on the AC switch on the power supply or plugging it into the AC wall wart. This helps control current draw and maintain stable voltages at each power output.

While our pedals incorporate reverse polarity protection, there are limits to what these safeguards can handle. Thus, using power supplies within the recommended voltage range is vital to ensure optimal performance and protect the circuits’ long-term durability.

Demos, reviews & comments

Blog post: The 101 of the CompIQ line of compressors

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Circuit Design
Dynamic Processing
Analog Engines®
Control Element
Side-Chain Topology
Side-Chain Detection
Side-Chain Filter
Side-Chain Frequency Compensation
Voicing
Adjustable Input Level
Peak-level Indicator
Balanced Output
Crossover
Compression Ratio
Threshold
Dynamic Auto Timing
Attack Time
Release Time
Make-up Gain
Compression Knee
EQ
EQ Bypass
Dry/Wet Mix
Saturation
Saturation Filters
Compression Display
9V Battery Operation
DC Power Range
Current Consumption
More Info
Compressor / Limiter
Dual Band / Stacking
2
Blackmer® VCA
Feed Forward / Feed-Back
True RMS-Level Sensor
Variable Lows / Highs
YES
-
±12dB
+0dBu input, +6dBu output
Transformer Balanced / Unbalanced (Floating) with optional DITOS output
Linkwitz–Riley
70Hz to 1KHz
1:1 to inf:1
both bands
-40dBu to +10dBu
both bands
Auto Fast / Slower
F: 5‐7ms / S: 10-15ms
F: 70ms / S: 100‐220ms
-6dB to +20dB
both bands
Hard / Soft
both bands
Unbalance Make-up Gains around X-over frequency pivot
-
YES
MK1
-
6-LED
both bands
-
9-18VDC center negative
Ø 5.1/2.1mm, 12mm long
< 95mAh @ 9VDC
< 170mAh @ 18VDC
Compressor / Limiter
Single Channel
1
Blackmer® VCA
Feed Forward / Feed-Back
True RMS-Level Sensor
Variable Lows / Highs
YES
Flat, Spark, Tight, Punch
-
-
Transformer Balanced / Unbalanced (Floating)
with optional DITOS DI board
-
1:1 to inf:1
-45dBu to +10dBu
Auto Fast / Slower
F: 5‐7ms / S: 10-15ms
Manual: 0.12 to 12 ms/dB
F / S: 70ms / 100‐220ms
Manual: 1.2 to 120 ms/dB
-6dB to +20dB
Hard / Soft
tilting X-EQ ±6dB
around 1kHz / 330Hz frequency pivots
MK1
YES
MK1
MK1
8-LED
YES
9-18VDC center negative
Ø 5.1/2.1mm, 12mm long
< 35mAh @ 9VDC
< 63mAh @ 18VDC
Compressor / Limiter
Single Channel
1
Blackmer® VCA
Feed Forward / Feed-Back
True RMS-Level Sensor
Variable Lows
YES
-
-
-
-
-
1:1 to inf:1
-40dbu to +10dBu
Auto Fast / Slower
F: 5‐7ms / S: 10-15ms
F: 70ms / S: 100‐220ms
-6dB to +20dB
Hard / Soft
-
-
YES
-
-
5-LED
-
9-12VDC center negative
Ø 5.1/2.1mm, 12mm long
< 25mAh @ 9VDC
< 38mAh @ 12VDC
Compressor
Single Channel
1
Blackmer® VCA
Feed Forward
True RMS-Level Sensor
Normal
YES
-
-
-
-
-
1:1 to inf:1
Lo: -40dBu / Hi: -30dBu
Auto Slow
12ms
220ms
-6dB to +20dB
Hard
-
-
YES
-
-
5-LED
-
9-12VDC center negative
Ø 5.1/2.1mm, 12mm long
< 15mAh @ 9VDC
< 23mAh @ 12VDC

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