Extensive compressor reviews and FAQ

TC Electronic C300: This is a digital multi-band stereo/dual mono rack compressor. It features several modes of compression and limiting tailored to 16 different instruments and voices, with a convenient preset selection knob. Each preset can be further adjusted for ratio, threshold, makeup gain, and blend.
 
The bass guitar preset is a multi-band compressor combined with a peak limiter, which is an ideal combination from a practical standpoint, for general-purpose use. This preset does work well and sound good, but of course it won't be suitable for every situation or taste. Also, like all digital comps I have tried, it is not capable of hard limiting of big signal spikes. However it does a decent job handling less extreme peaks, and overall it limits better than the other digi units I've used.
 
The blend control goes from 100% dry (bypassed) to 100% wet (series processing) and all blended points in between, and the blended signal is very natural sounding, with no phase issues that I could hear. This allows your signal to be under a little more control while still retaining some articulate "open" dynamics. How well it works depends on your specific application, but blended compression can be useful and appealing sometimes.
 
There is very little noise, and no threshold artifacts that I could hear. Generally speaking the tone is uncolored, with no loss of highs or lows, and not particularly "digital" sounding. When the blend was set to 100% wet, and heavy compression was applied, the sound/tone became a bit dull and muddy. This was resolved or mitigated by using lighter ratios, faster release times, or blending in some clean signal. So I wouldn't try to use this for heavy squashing of sustained notes, but it is capable of high ratios if you need.
 
It has both analog and digital inputs and outputs, as well as MIDI jacks. The bypass is not "true bypass", but it is quite clean, and at a matched level that makes it easy to A/B the dry and compressed signals. The construction quality, both inside and outside, is typical of inexpensive digital gear--good enough for a small studio, but not rugged enough for gigging. Good luck to you if you have one that breaks down, because TC's customer support in the USA is unhelpful to an extreme.
 
Price in USD: $80-$150 used, no longer available new.
 

 

 
 
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