Extensive compressor reviews and FAQ

TC Electronic Nova Dynamics: This is a very versatile digital compressor in pedal format. It contains two discreet processors, which can be run as two separate channels or switched A/B for one channel.
 
Each processor can be switched between three different compression modes: "Studio", "Stomp", and "Gate". The Studio mode is a multi-band compressor, very transparent and high-fidelity, while the Stomp mode is modeled on traditional single-band pedal compression with a more noticeable effect on the sound. The Gate mode is a straightforward noise gate, although it's one of the only ones I've used that actually sounds decent! Most noise gates are choppy and they wreck your note attack and decay, but this one has the ability to act more smoothly and naturally.
 
Each of the three modes has a selection of useful parameter controls, although not every parameter can be accessed at all times. All modes have a very wide frequency range, no loss of lows or highs, although in the Studio mode (as with many other multi-band comps) the lows sound less full or deep than they do in the single-band Stomp mode. There is very low noise in all modes. Both comp modes are very useful and musical and they do a good, effective job of compressing or limiting as needed. The sound quality is natural and not at all "digital sounding", although it doesn't have nearly as much personality as the more quirky analog comp designs.
 
Sadly, there is one huge negative: in the Stomp mode, I found that there was a chirpy glitch artifact (like a "tink" sound) every time my signal crossed the threshold. I tried various calibrations of the input level, I tried a wide range of settings, and was unable to eliminate the chirp. This artifact was not at all present in the Studio or Gate modes. I contacted TCE about it, and they were not able to duplicate this problem on the units they had for testing. I sent it back to them for evaluation a long time ago, and they have not responded yet. As a side note, I have found that TC's customer service in the US ranges from unhelpful to terrible. I have spoken with other owners of this pedal, and some of them have the glitching noise problem, while other people do not. So I don't know what to say at this time--maybe a few defective ones are out there, or maybe it's something particular to certain types of signal or equipment connected. I bought a second one of these, and got the exact same results--but again, I don't know the real cause of the artifact, and not everyone will experience it.
 
The footswitches are not true bypass, but the bypass is very clean, and the switching system has a very intelligent and useful selection of switching modes. If it weren't for the unacceptable chirp sound in Stomp mode, this would be one of the most versatile and useful pedal compressors I've ever tried. It is now discontinued.
 
Price in USD: $75-$170 used, no longer available new.
 

 

 
 
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