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CompIQ STELLA Pro Compressor Pedal for Guitar & Bass

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Guitar Magazine Editor's Choice - We’ve seen rackmount studio compressors with fewer controls than this little pedal from Romanian maker Becos.Notes are thickened without thumping, and chords gel together in a way that makes you sound like a better player. This is a proper gem.

CompIQ PRO Stella is a one-of-a-kind compressor that will blow your mind with the amount of control and versatility it provides. With features only found in expensive studio rack gear, this stellar compression effect pedal is ready for professional audio dynamic processing, ensuring the musical response and transparency of analog circuitry. This full-featured compressor pedal is a beast of dynamic processing. Read more below.

 Manual

In stock

Description

Full control over compression parameters

CompIQ PRO Stella Compressor is an all-analog battery operated compressor pedal designed for guitar and bass and hand-built around the top-class THAT Analog Engine® – the same technology used in rack compressors made by the likes of DBX, Presonus, Dangerous Music or Revive Audio. A true RMS-level detector measures input signal and applies accurate feed-forward compression through a transparent sounding, high-performance Blackmer® VCA. The amount of control it offers is staggering and probably never before seen in a compression pedal, especially of this size. We didn’t leave out anything that helps bring a truly clean, accurate and transparent dynamic sound processing.

Standard studio-like controls with supplementary processing features

Becos CompIQ Pro Stella Compressor wet-dry-mix close-upWith so many controls, one may wonder how can this be tamed and furthermore, properly used in a live setup. Don’t let yourself overwhelmed. We provided sufficient options not only for in-depth control but also for making things easier. For instance, with the flip of a switch, you can take out the Manual Attack & Release controls and let the Dynamic Auto Timing analog circuit do the right thing for you. Two timing choices are available – Fast or Slower – and both respond gracefully to any playing style.

The Ratio, Threshold and Gain continuous controls are quintessential to a professional compressor, and they all add to the plethora of switchable options, to further attain the ideal amount of compression effect for any musical program. A Dry/Wet Mix allows parallel compression, where the desired amount of dry input signal may be mixed with the compressed signal, for a more natural effect application.

Becos CompIQ Pro Stella Compressor threshold led close-upAdditional features are available for the very demanding players. Side Chain Filter has three selectable options – Normal, Low and Deep -, which are very helpful for a bass instrument or when a fuller output sound is needed. If you want to keep things simple, set the filter to Normal and the compressor will just act naturally in most instances. However, if your bass lower notes trigger compression yet too fast, then the Low or Deep setting will slightly delay the compression, freeing up the low-end frequencies just enough for the audio spectrum to breath out thoroughly. The Compression Knee can be selected between Hard and Soft, each option having its own particular sonic signature. Hard Knee compression acts fast and squishes hard – use this if you aim for a limiting effect. Soft Knee compression is progressive and gentle, helping to create a transparent effect application. The Tilt-EQ equalization circuit has two selectable options for pivot frequency – High (at 1KHz) proper for guitar and Low (at 330Hz) suitable for bass.

We didn’t stop there!

Becos CompIQ Pro Stella Compressor controls close-upOn top of all these controls, we added an analog Tape Saturation circuit which can add harmonic distortions to the dry line, which can then be mixed with the compressed wet line, for precise balancing of the effect. This circuit rivals vintage studio tape overload compression effect which was a studio recording trick during the ’60s. Tape saturation is a pleasing sort of distortion arising when high amplitude audio signals are recorded on magnetic tape. The Saturation control can vary in intensity from nothing to mild and warm overdrive. The result is either subtle, adding richness to the body of sound, or obvious, with a tube-like screaming distortion feel. If needed, Low and High-frequency cut filters can be engaged by removing two internal jumpers. This helps eliminate oversaturated low-frequency fuzziness or prevent high-frequency from sounding too pointy. The parallel processing is delicately brought together and leveled up with the blend knob, similarly with using a dedicated studio summing amplifier. The parallel tape saturation feature also transforms CompIQ Stella into a compressor/overdrive effect.

Ultimately, a 6-LED compression display indicates the amount of effect applied to the input signal, providing accurate feedback over how much the sound is processed. The information used for compression display is taken directly from the RMS-level sensor.

CompIQ series of compressors is not gonna alter the magic voice of your instrument. It preserves the original guitar or bass tone while providing unobstructed, pristine audio compression. The high dynamic range of these compressors allows natural-sounding clean tones and low noise artifact-free audio processing, without distortions usually introduced by optical compressors.

The sound on bass

Sound samples courtesy of Test de matériel from France. Alternating compressor Off and On, with or without Tape Saturation. Scroll below for a video review-demo on guitar, made by Brett Kingman in Australia.

Summary of key features

  • True analog bypass
  • Blackmer® VCA analog compressor
  • True RMS-level detector
  • Ratio 1:1 – inf:1 (limiter)
  • Threshold -40dB to +10dB
  • Make-up Gain -6dB to +20dB
  • Tilt-EQ with selectable frequency pivot 330Hz/1KHz (EQ bypass – jumper selectable)
  • Manual Attack 0.12 – 12 ms/dB
  • Manual Release 1.2 – 120 ms/dB
  • Soft/Hard compression knee
  • Manual timings or Fast/Slower dynamic auto attack and release timings
  • Normal/Low/Deep sidechain filter
  • Dry/Wet mix
  • Tape Saturation on the dry line with Level compensation and Low/High-frequency cut filters (jumper selectable)
  • 6-LED compression display
  • Socketed hi-quality FET audio IC, low tolerance parts & WIMA audio capacitors
  • Black powdered, genuine aluminum Hammond enclosure
  • Runs on standard 9V internal battery or 9-12 V DC external power supply, center negative, 12mm long barrel plug (not included)
  • 2-year warranty

More info

 Manual

Additional information

Weight 0.4 kg
Dimensions 11.2 × 6.8 × 5 cm
Features Summary

True analog bypass
Blackmer® VCA analog compressor
True RMS-level detector
Ratio 1:1 – inf:1 (limiter)
Threshold -40dB to +10dB
Make-up Gain -6dB to +20dB
Tilt-EQ with selectable frequency pivot 330Hz/1KHz (EQ bypass – jumper selectable)
Manual Attack 0.12 – 12 ms/dB
Manual Release 1.2 – 120 ms/dB
Soft/Hard compression knee
Manual timings or Fast/Slower dynamic auto attack and release timings
Normal/Low/Deep sidechain filterDry/Wet mixTape Saturation on the dry line with Level compensation and Low/High-frequency cut filters (jumper selectable)
6-LED compression display
Socketed hi-quality FET audio IC, low tolerance parts & WIMA audio capacitors
Black powdered, genuine aluminum Hammond enclosure
Runs on standard 9V internal battery or 9-12 V DC external power supply, center negative plug (not included)
2-year warranty
Product weight: 0.26Kg
Shipping weight: 0.40Kg
MSRP: 259 Euro;
Made in EU/Romania;

Technical Specifications

Input impedance: 1MΩ
Output impedance: less than 100Ω
Ratio: 1:1 to inf:1
Threshold: -40dB to +10dB
Make-up gain: -6dB to +20dB
0dB input referrence level: -20dBu (77.5mV)
Total amount of compression: depends on input signal level, usually 20dB for input signals around -20dBu (77.5mV) and up to 36dB for +4dBu (1.23Vrms) input signal 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 handled slower
Manual Attack range: 0.12 to 12ms/dB
Manual Release range: 1.2 to 120ms/dB
Output noise at 0dBV gain: -95dBV
Total Harmonic Distortion THD: 0.05% for -5dBV input signal level @ 1kHz
Wet output frequency response: -2dB @ 40Hz; 0dB in between 100Hz and 22KHz
Dry output frequency response: FLAT; 0dB in between 10Hz and 100KHz
6-LED Display: calibrated for referrence input level of -20dBu (77.5mV), to accomodate electric guitars and bass pickups; compression occurs beyond -20dB Red LED indication, when input signal is stronger
Internal battery operation: 9V (6F22) alkaline battery recommended
External power voltage: 9-12VDC
DC power connector polarity: center negative [ – ]
DC power plug barrel: Ø 5.1/2.1mm, 12-15mm long
Current consumption: < 29mA
Product weight: 0.26Kg
Shipping weight: 0.40Kg

COMPIQ 101

The CompIQ series of compressors
Signal Variation Element
Signal Level Detection
Manual Ratio
Manual Threshold
Manual Attack
Manual Release
Manual Make-up Gain
Dynamic Auto Timing
Compression Knee
Side Chain Filter
EQ
EQ Bypass
Dry/Wet Mix
Tape Saturation
Saturation EQ
Compression Display
9V Battery Operation
External DC Power
DC Power Plug Barrel
Current Consumption
Blackmer® VCA
RMS-Level Sensor
1:1 to inf:1
-40dBu to +10dBu
0.12 ms/dB to 12 ms/dB
1.2 ms/dB to 120 ms/dB
-6dB to +20dB
Fast / Slower
Hard / Soft
Normal / Low / Deep
Tilt-EQ +/-6dB with Low / Deep frequency pivots
YES
YES
On Dry Line
adjustable with Saturation and Level controls
Jumper selectable Lo / Hi cut filters
6-LED
YES
9-12VDC center negative
Ø 5.1/2.1mm, 12-15mm long
< 29mA
Blackmer® VCA
RMS-Level Sensor
1:1 to inf:1
-40dbu to +10dBu
-
-
-6dB to +20dB
Fast / Slower
Hard / Soft
Normal
-
-
YES
-
-
5-LED
-
9-12VDC center negative
Ø 5.1/2.1mm, 12-15mm long
< 25mA
Blackmer® VCA
RMS-Level Sensor
1:1 to inf:1
Lo: -40dBu fixed; Hi: -40dBu to +10dBu variable with inside trimmer
-
-
-6dB to +20dB
Slower
Soft
Normal
-
-
YES
-
-
5-LED
-
9-12VDC center negative
Ø 5.1/2.1mm, 12-15mm long
< 25mA
MINI Pro vs. other minions
Wanna know more about mini compressor pedals? We compiled a Technical Shootout for most performance and popular mini compressor pedals available. Click here to find out how CompIQ MINI Pro stands out.
Blackmer® VCA
First developed by David Blackmer of dbx Inc., the original dbx 202 “Black Can” VCAs, can still be found in operating consoles today. These first VCAs suitable for pro audio equipment were built with a gain cell of eight discrete transistors. Later development of these IC’s surpassed all inconveniences of earlier designs, now rendering superior performances. CompIQ series of compressors use THAT Corporation Blackmer® VCAs which are characterized by an exponential control characteristic (gain varies directly in decibels), extremely wide dynamic range, and low signal distortion. They are particularly neutral in sound, adding little or no coloration to audio signals.
RMS-Level Sensor
Invented by David Blackmer of dbx Inc., the RMS-level detector computes Root Mean Square level of input signals in a logarithmic form, similar to how human ear perceives sound. The sound envelope decoded by this accurate detector is used to apply dynamic processing of the sound – the variation of signal level precisely controlled by the VCA according to parameters set by the user (Ratio, Threshold, Attack, Release, and Gain).
Threshold Range
The threshold’s 50dB of range is designed to accommodate very weak signals up to pro audio level signals. The +4dB pro signal line level is at the top of this range, and consequently at the far clockwise end of the threshold knob. This gives a huge amount of headroom for the instrument’s generated signals, which ensure the compressor is not distorting with high-level spikes. We didn’t want that, by design. Some other compressors distort a lot, for various reasons, and headroom (or lack of it) is one of them. The CompIQ line of compressors is made to accommodate either lower OR hotter signals, and that is the reason why it can also be used with synths or other line-level devices. We wanted that so that we cover a broad spectrum of usage. As opposed to this kind of design are the compressors which have a very low threshold set hard within the circuit, and they would be controlled through “compression variation” only. This is equivalent to setting our compressors with the lowest threshold, and then vary compression amount with the Ratio control.

One other fact to point out is the range of a pickup signal, which is in the lower 25% of the pro signal level. This falls as well within the first quarter of the Threshold knob’s rotation range. The compression, or limiting, should only occur on peaks and for that matter, the optimum threshold point for a pickup is also in the lower setting on the Threshold knob, maybe between -30 to -20dBu (by design, this is also the reference level of the internal circuit). Around 8 or 9 o’clock, you are more than halfway within a pickup signal range. If you are to compress just peaks, you would set the threshold knob at about 9 o’clock or slightly above. At this level, a higher compression ratio makes no sense, unless is limiting you’re after. If you want to have a more audible feel of the compression, you would set the threshold knob bellow 9 o’clock, and the lower you go counterclockwise the smaller compression ratios you should use so that the pickup signal is not squashed too hard. Unless you want to use the squash as an effect! And here comes the “New York compression style” which means compress with a high ratio and low threshold, and mix the compressed wet signal with the dry signal.

Worth mentioning is that all CompIQ circuits have a hard-set signal level protection; which is around 1.2Vp-p or just around… pro signal level. For higher input levels than that, the circuit gets into distortion, which is generated by the protection section of the circuit and not within the active electronics, like buffers and VCA. Such protection is needed to avoid damages within the electronics due to input spikes or accidental DC leakage. Anyway, guitars and basses will not get to that top-level easily, unless they are put after a device that would be cranked up.

Side Chain Filter
Side Chain Filter is a feature which allows a change in the side chain compression triggering frequency filter.  The purpose is to delay the start of the compressor by the low frequency with high amplitude, which otherwise would clamp the higher frequencies too early. This results in a breathable type of compression, which has a particular sound characteristic, making it feel more natural to the ear. At the same time, the sound at the output may come out” fatter” or “punchier”. Side Chain HPF Options in CompIQ PRO Stella Compressor (-12dB at 90Hz & -12dB at 200Hz)

In CompIQ PRO Stella, the SCF is switchable for a pre-set amount of low-cut of the triggering frequencies. The Normal option provides a general-purpose type of compression response, while Low and Deep options add a cut of -12dB@90Hz and -12dB@200Hz on top of the Normal side chain curve, making it suitable for bass instruments.

Tape Saturation Lo & Hi-Cut filters
The Tape Saturation analog circuit acts only on the Dry signal. This optionally-saturated signal can then be mixed with the wet, compressed signal, to infuse harmonic distortions and warm-up the audio, without affecting the dynamics of the compressed signal. The headroom of the saturation circuit is pretty high, so you need to dial in some saturation before the effect is audible. Below you can see how the filters affect the frequencies of the Dry line.

The Low & High cut filters should be used only when Tape Saturation is used, otherwise, they will affect the clean dry line, although, that might also be a desirable way of using the Dry/Wet Mix control. The filters were necessary so that they would accommodate different types of audio sources, and respond musically without introducing unwanted fuzziness on the low end (especially for bass), or make it sound brittle (especially on bright guitar pickups).

Tilt-EQ
The Tilt-EQ section of the circuit is placed after the compressor, just before the Mix control, which means it acts on the wet signal only. When mixing the dry unprocessed signal, with the wet, compressed and processed signal, the effect of the Tilt-EQ is washed out little by little, as you introduce more dry signal.

The Tilt-EQ on Stella has two frequency pivot points so that it will accommodate either bass (pivot at 330Hz, which corresponds to the higher note on the highest note of a 4 or 5 strings bass), or guitar (pivot at 1KHz, which corresponds to the highest note on a 20-fret guitar). At extreme setting (CC or CCW), there is a total difference of 12dB in between lows and highs. In the middle position of the Tilt-EQ knob, the frequencies are not affected. The Tilt-EQ section can be bypassed altogether by changing the position of a jumper inside the pedal.

Line-level signals
CompIQ series of compressors (both Stella and MINI) share the same core technology – sound wise they sound exactly the same. They have 50dB threshold range, from -40dB up to +10dB which is from average magnetic pickup level up to above line level. They both may be used on line-level FX Loops or hi-Z input on recording interfaces. Having an RMS-level detector, the compression is very accurate and the LED indication is very precise in that regard, as long as the input signal is at/around calibrated reference level. With line-level signals, which is way up, the LED’s will flash red more often, but there is nothing wrong with that. We did not provide means for re-calibrating the compression display at various signal levels because they were designed to be used mainly with instrument-level signals. CompIQ series “0dB input reference level” is hard-set at -20dBu (77.5mV). The total amount of compression depends on input signal level, usually 20dB for input signals around -20dBu (77.5mV) and around 36dB for +4dBu (1.228Vrms) input signal levels, all at inf:1 Ratio.
Compressor noise
The re-amplification of a weak signal – as compressed signal is – is the main source for noise in compressors. Some compressors might be described as noisier than other, but the fact is they all introduce noise with amplification (the amount of noise is also dependent on amplification circuit, FET-based amplification being potentially a bit noisier; in CompIQ compressors, amplification takes place in the VCA). To correctly compare compressor’s noise, they must be set for the same exact amount of threshold, ratio and make-up gain, and be fed the same reference signal. Some manufacturers limit the Ratio of their compressors to 7:1 (Empress), or as low as 3:1 (Diamond) and those make for “very silent compressors”. Of course in this regard “silent compressor” has a subjective meaning, if it’s not a misleading statement. As far as CompIQ compressors go, keep in mind:

  • at higher input signal levels, the makeup gain-related noise will be lower, because you deal with a bigger signal in the first place;
  • if you set a higher threshold, hard knee, and inf:1 ratio and you affect only the peak of the signals – as this limiting setup makes sense to be used – the noise will be inaudible.
  • for weak magnetic pickup signals, at the lowest set threshold and with ratios around 4:1 (which is a fair amount of compression), the CompIQ make-up gain will introduce noise similarly to studio-grade equipment.
  • on top of Threshold, you have the MIX control which helps reducing noise by blending in the dry signal;
  • using soft knee also contributes to reducing the need for make-up gain, so implicitly it reduces potential noise.
Independent demos, reviews & comments

VIDEO DEMO

Watch video demos for CompIQ STELLA Pro Compressor

IN THE PRESS

Read the reviews for CompIQ STELLA Pro Compressor

Becos CompIQ Pro Stella Compressor

Guitar.com - Becos Effects’ CompIQ Pro Stella Compressor features rack-style controls on a stomperThis pedal is designed to provide an array of features – with rack unit-levels of tweakability – in a pedalboard-friendly format. A highlight of the CompIQ Pro Stella Compressor is its analog tape saturation circuit.
Music Radar - Guitar and bass stompbox delivers dizzying array of featuresCompIQ PRO Stella for guitar and bass delivers dizzying array of features. There are a staggering number of parameters onboard, which promise the versatility of a rack unit in a compact stompbox.
Extensive review of CompIQ PRO Stella Compressor on TalkBass.com ForumThis new offering from Becos is a highly versatile and pedal board friendly compressor. I'm not aware of any compressor on the market that packs this much punch in terms of functionality. In many ways, it has raised the bar for compressor pedals. The words "Pro Compressor" on the face of the compressor is appropriate. There is a whole lot of versatility in an amazingly small package.
Guitar World - Knob-heavy pedal offers compression, limiting, tape saturation and more.Knob-heavy pedal offers compression, limiting, tape saturation and more.



COMPARE COMPRESSORS

The comparison table is best viewed on large screens, in landscape mode, preferably on desktop.

Signal Variation Element
Signal Level Detection
Manual Ratio
Manual Threshold
Manual Attack
Manual Release
Manual Make-up Gain
Dynamic Auto Timing
Compression Knee
Side Chain Filter
EQ
EQ Bypass
Dry/Wet Mix
Tape Saturation
Saturation EQ
Compression Display
9V Battery Operation
External DC Power
DC Power Plug Barrel
Current Consumption
Blackmer® VCA
RMS-Level Sensor
1:1 to inf:1
-40dBu to +10dBu
0.12 ms/dB to 12 ms/dB
1.2 ms/dB to 120 ms/dB
-6dB to +20dB
Fast / Slower
Hard / Soft
Normal / Low / Deep
Tilt-EQ +/-6dB with Low / Deep frequency pivots
YES
YES
On Dry Line
adjustable with Saturation and Level controls
Jumper selectable Lo / Hi cut filters
6-LED
YES
9-12VDC center negative
Ø 5.1/2.1mm, 12-15mm long
< 29mA
Blackmer® VCA
RMS-Level Sensor
1:1 to inf:1
-40dbu to +10dBu
-
-
-6dB to +20dB
Fast / Slower
Hard / Soft
Normal
-
-
YES
-
-
5-LED
-
9-12VDC center negative
Ø 5.1/2.1mm, 12-15mm long
< 25mA
Blackmer® VCA
RMS-Level Sensor
1:1 to inf:1
Lo: -40dBu fixed; Hi: -40dBu to +10dBu variable with inside trimmer
-
-
-6dB to +20dB
Slower
Soft
Normal
-
-
YES
-
-
5-LED
-
9-12VDC center negative
Ø 5.1/2.1mm, 12-15mm long
< 25mA

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