A stompbox effect staple, compressor pedals have managed to carve out their own certain niche in the guitar playing community.
When used for specific genres, they suit some players perfectly. Country musicians for example, who play those awesome chicken-pickin’ or bluegrass kind of licks discovered the benefits of using a stompbox compressor decades ago.
The sound of a compressor working its charm over Nashville-inspired playing has become crucial to that specific kind of sound. And for a clean guitar tone with a bit of chorus and reverb, a compressor pedal will do sparkling, lush wonders!
Our Beginner’s Guide to Compression article will give you a more detailed overview of compression, how it’s used and the different kinds of compressors. We highly recommend you check it out if you’re new to compression, or even if you just want to brush up on the basics.
CS-3 Compression Sustainer
Anyone familiar with BOSS’ long-running range of compressors will definitely be aware of the CS-3 Compression Sustainer pedal, a traditional VCA style compressor that has found a home on the pedalboard of many guitar players, including superstars such as David Gilmour, Bonnie Raitt and U2’s The Edge.
The BOSS CS-3 is a core part of the BOSS lineup and is an excellent choice for players seeking a traditional compressor tone. Its classic compression circuitry delivers a pronounced attack, combined with smooth sustain, that all work together to even out the dynamic peaks and troughs of your picking.
Not restricted to just guitar players, the CS-3 can be used on practically anything you’d like to plug into it. Bassists, keyboardists and synthesizer artists are some of the musicians who still cherish this small blue wonderbox!
Electronic artists such as Aphex Twin and Legowelt for example, have also had great results with this classic stompbox. It sounds great on drum machines, synthesizers and other electronic music instruments, or even as an Auxiliary Send on a mixing board for parallel compression. Hear it in action on the Roland TR-8 drum machine here:
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Along with its smooth and audible compression, the CS-3 (like any traditional guitar compressor pedal) also imparts a distinctive tonal flavour, characterised by a snapping, popping attack, and a certain “pumping” or “breathing” effect, imparted while evening out your overall volume.
For some musicians though, the audible tonality found within a classic compressor design is less than desirable. Much like different kinds of reverb types (Spring, Hall, Shimmer, etc.) not all kinds of compression are suitable for all musicians.
If you like the notion of what a compressor pedal does for your guitar (like the sustain or the overall evening out of your notes and chords), but aren’t completely comfortable with the signature sound of traditional compressors such as the BOSS CS-3, then you might have been considering boost pedals, overdrives or even EQ pedals to achieve similar results.
In fact, it’s this kind of thinking that’s lead to one of BOSS’ most exciting new pedals…
THE NEXT LEVEL OF COMPRESSION
Enter the BOSS CP-1X. The CP-1X is a new type of compressor for guitar that aims to preserve the character of your instrument, delivering all the benefits of dynamic compression while eliminating the “squashed” sound of a traditional compressor. The CP-1X is unique in its design, as it completely reimagines a compression pedal from scratch.
We mentioned earlier that the CS-3 is a pedal that nearly any musician can use. While this is also true for the CP-1X, it is fundamentally a pedal designed specifically for the guitar, and all the expressive qualities that go into playing the instrument. We’ll explain why in a moment, but first, we should give you some background on the pedal.
In the quest for a more “transparent” sounding compressor pedal, some manufacturers in recent times have been releasing designs that incorporate a “blend” control, which allows the user to mix their dry, uncompressed guitar signal with the compressed signal.
This is a simple workaround method to achieve results similar to the classic studio technique of “parallel compression”, which is often used as a way to compress drums.
Sure, adding some dry signal back in will stop the pedal from colouring your tone too much, but of course, it also mitigates much of the actual compression effect itself!
So, what if you want a compressor pedal that still does an effective job of dynamic compression, while maintaining your natural tone, as well as complimenting and (more importantly), understanding your playing?
The BOSS CP-1X is an entirely new compression design that uses BOSS’ MDP technology. MDP or Multi-Dimensional Processing is a new innovation from BOSS that has been used in previous pedals such as the TE-2 Tera Echo, the MO-2 Multi Overtone, the DA-2 Adaptive Distortion and the “X” series of classic BOSS overdrives and distortions.
Multi-Dimensional Processing (MDP)
So how does MDP work? As it turns out, in a really cool way!
MDP (and subsequently, the CP-1X) uses intelligent processing to analyse your guitar signal in multiple dimensions, as you play. It listens to each note you play and compresses each one differently, taking into account things like different strings, neck position, single notes, chords, arpeggios and more when deciding exactly how to act on each note.
The CP-1X is even able to differentiate the fundamental note of your input waveform vs. the harmonic overtones that are naturally generated, and compress them both at different rates.
Take a look at this diagram:
The INPUT diagram shows an uncompressed waveform from a guitar. The orange wave is the “fundamental tone” – i.e. the note you are playing. The blue wave shows the harmonic overtones that come flying off the string as you pick it, which rapidly decay over time.
A CONVENTIONAL compressor looks at the entire spectrum of audio information and compresses all the audio at the same rate, in order to bring the total dynamic range into control.
In order to bring the (blue) harmonic overtones into control, it has to heavily compress the entire signal, including the fundamental (orange) waveform. This manifests in the note attack, feeling like it is “sucked” away.
In the example above, you can see that MDP reduces the harmonic overtones so that the overall volume is under control. Yet it retains the fundamental waveform – meaning your actual guitar notes are clearly audible.
In short, the BOSS CP-1X provides advanced dynamics control that never colours or muddies your tone. It’s like you’re plugging into multiple compressors in the one pedal which are doing different things to different frequencies, before blending them all together.
Instead of simply “brickwall compressing” your signal, you’re allowing the CP-1X to do its work based on your playing, no matter how sensitive or aggressive your dynamics are!
This might sound like the CP-1X is working on your tone. Hardly. In fact, the transparency of the CP-1X is incredible. You won’t hear it, but you’ll know it’s there because your guitar sound will become much more apparent.
KEEP IT QUIET!
The advanced compression delivered using MDP technology is only part of why the CP-1X is the world’s most advanced guitar compression pedal.
A common sore point with compressors is that, by their very nature, they will add some noise to your signal during the “sustain” part of their operation. If you’re also using overdrive and distortion, the compressor can add extra noise, in some cases to unusable levels.
This of course is combative with a noise suppressor like the BOSS NS-2, but if pedal real estate is a factor for you, then it can be difficult to keep your levels under control.
The CP-1X factors this into its design by using a digital circuit for exceptional noise reduction. Combined with multiple interlocking parameters for intelligently adapting to every register and nuance of your playing, the clarity and preservation of tone that the CP-1X brings to your sound is unparalleled.
Another nice trick that the CP-1X pulls is, despite running off a 9v battery or power supply, the internal voltage of the pedal is pumped up to 18v. This offers ample headroom for a clean, punchy sound that has enough capability to cleanly deal with guitars used more frequently today like seven and eight string instruments and acoustic-electrics.
Essentially, whatever you play, then the CP-1X will work for you. It’s been described as “removing the blanket” off your guitar sound and works comfortably alongside and with your other stompboxes.
If you’ve never used a compressor pedal before, then the CP-1X is a great place to start. If you already know the benefits of compression, then it’s certainly a pedal that’s worth checking out. Think of it as a refreshing new take on a classic effect.
Classic compressors such as the CS-3 will (and should!) always be with us. What the BOSS CP-1X does is take a different approach to a similar goal, opening new doors for creative expression.
Whichever you prefer, the choice is at your feet!
The technology used in the CP-1X is identical to that used in BOSS’ BC-1X Bass Compressor. The BC-1X differs however, in that it is designed and voiced specifically for bass guitars, as opposed to the CP-1X, which is guitar focused.
The BC-1X also sounds great on other instruments. Here it is on a TR-8 drum machine:
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