FEA SMX: This pedal was inspired by the old classic Trace Elliot SMX dual-band compressor. FEA's version is meant to give the same general sort of action as the Trace, with a similar crossover point between the two bands, and similar attack and release times. It also has a groovy British green paint job. But FEA's version uses a completely different circuit internally, and is much better quality in every way.
As with most of FEA's other comps, this is an optical type, and it has been optimized for transparent tone and smooth, unobtrusive action. There is no loss of highs or lows, and it adds no noise at all. There are no audible artifacts around the crossover point, or when your signal crosses the threshold. There are LEDs for both bands to indicate signal over the threshold.
It features only three controls per band: threshold, ratio, and make-up gain. The max ratio is 7:1, so it can squeeze somewhat strongly, but it's not an ideal peak limiter. The fixed attack, release, and crossover values chosen by FEA are actually quite ideal for general purposes. As I played through this with a variety of basses and playing styles, I never once wished any of those settings were different. Even though I use the more complicated dual-band Comp-Limiter model myself, I actually recommend the SMX more highly to most people because the SMX makes it easier to get excellent results.
In addition to the "true bypass" footswitch, there is a footswitch for disengaging the high band of compression, which can be useful if you want the maximum of dynamic articulation but still need the lows to be kept under control. The pedal can also be used as a crossover, with separate output jacks for the high and low bands. The pedal runs off a normal Boss-type 9V DC supply, but like the Maxon CP9Pro+ it has a "charge pump" inside which raises the internal voltage to 18V for greater headroom (less distortion). The housing is the same "medium" size as Barber and Diamond, and the construction quality is excellent.
Price in USD: new $295, used probably around $250
All text on this page written and owned by Cyrus J. Heiduska, 2006-2017, all rights reserved.