Extensive compressor reviews and FAQ

Celmo Sardine Can: This is an interesting pedal from France, from a company that previously made audio software plugins. It features both a compressor and an overdrive channel, as well as some tone-shaping functions.
 
The comp section is clean and crisp-sounding, with very low noise, and no loss of highs or lows. It can amplify any noise that already existed in your line by quite a bit if you crank the sustain knob, but it doesn't sound bad even then, and it doesn't introduce any noise of its own. The note attack is crisp and percussive, and the sustain is very smooth and even. The range of compression is from gentle to extreme, with a fixed high ratio (maybe between 10:1 and 20:1), though it will not quite act as a hard peak limiter. There's only one control over the compression, that I believe is a gain boost into a fixed threshold, so the response is not very versatile--however the preset envelope will suit a very wide range of users. With the compression knob set low, there is still plenty of dynamic range for expression, although if your instrument has very high output then the comp knob will have to be set very low. It's easy to compress too much with this pedal. As you crank the comp knob up the amount of sustain increases dramatically, and your dynamic range decreases by the same large amount. So it's a balancing act, finding the sweet spot that gets you a decent amount of sustain without flattening your dynamics too much. In addition to extra sustain, the higher comp levels will work great for any tapping/touchstyle players or people who play a lot of harmonics.
 
The overdrive channel is called the "rectifier", and at the "flat" setting it adds a nice crunchy edge to your tone without being obvious or fizzy. The highs get bright, and the lows get tightened up a lot--they are not lost, but the low end is not as full/round-sounding as when the rectifier is switched off. However it's still quite usable even with a low B on a bass. It's a nice textured "cutting" tone, more noticeable and bright than the distortion of the TCE Sustain+Para EQ, but still not as dramatic an effect as a typical OD pedal. But that's just at the "flat" setting. There are also settings labeled "violet" and "brown". In the violet mode the lows are cut, the highs are boosted, and the high-mids are deeply scooped. It's a "screamy" sound. The brown mode has a smaller amount of the lows rolled off, and a shallower mid scoop, with a big resonant peak somewhere in the low mids. It seems to be meant for driving your amp hard for classic rock crunch. These two settings are not great on bass. All three of the rectifier settings have levels boosted higher than the plain comp with the rectifier switched off, and there is only one volume knob for the whole thing. This means if you plan to use the clean channel and then switch on the OD channel, you will have to expect a jump in volume. This will be exciting and great for people using amps that overdrive nicely, and frustrating for many bassists using solid-state amps. The flat mode has a small jump in volume; the violet mode is a bit higher; and the brown mode is a lot louder.
 
In addition there is a switch for cutting the lows at the input by a little or a lot, for removing boomy tone; I gather that guitarists may like this feature. The footswitch is true bypass, and the construction feels good and solid. There are on/off LED's for the two channels, but no indicator of compression amount. Unfortunately the rectifier channel can only be engaged when the compression is engaged--it cannot be used separately. The pedal is about the same "medium" size as the Barber and Diamond. The input has high impedance, good for catching high frequency detail from passive instruments, and there is plenty of gain available if you need it.
 
I like this pedal a lot! I could see using it as an "instant all-in-one tone machine". However I did find that the rectifier channel sounds great with only some of my instruments; on others it sounded harsh and hollow. Interestingly, I got the exact opposite results from those instruments with the light distortion of the original-model TCE Sustain+Para EQ: basses that hated the brightness of the Celmo loved the warm smoothness of the TCE, and basses that loved the Celmo sounded dull or muddy with the TCE. Guitarists will find all the settings of the Celmo make it an incredibly versatile tone toolbox; bassists will only find maybe two useful sounds in it.
 
Price in USD: new $260, used $130 to $160
 

 

 
 
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