A good compression pedal is an extremely useful thing to have for guitarists who perform live, allowing the creation of diverse tonal and dynamic sections within your playing with ease. It is true however, that many musicians may not have a proper understanding of exactly what a compressor does or is operated, and consequently they are often used merely as boosters. This may be the perfect unit then for guitarists who are interested in experimenting with the functionality of a simple compressor without spending a large amount of money on it.
POWER IN SIMPLICITY
The Forcefield Compressor is part of TC Electronics’ ‘Smorgasbord of Tones’ range, which are designed to be classic sounding pedals with simple features aimed at the budget market. These units will not double as drum machines; they don’t have side chain inputs or the capability to store settings. They simply do what they say on the box and, thanks to the analogue circuitry and the on/off switch’s true bypass, they won’t rob you of any of your tone.
This pedal has three controls - four if you count the on/off switch. The ‘Sustain’ pot controls the amount of compression applied, which by default results in many of the notes becoming sustained, the ‘Attack’ controls how fast the compressor reacts, and the ‘Level’ allows some extra boost.
The ‘Level’ and ‘Sustain’ controls are related, as the more compression applied, the more you will need to make up for that lost gain. However, you can also simply push the level and use the pedal as a booster during solo sections. By playing with the amount of level you can either achieve a subtle amount of signal leveling, or push it further, thereby squashing your signal and adding sustain, which, again, can often be what you would want during a solo.
The ‘Attack’ control has a large bearing over your overall sound – you can set it for a fast response for quick changes, or instead achieve a more open and organic compression tone.
There are no perceptible sounds that come from the unit itself when the noise floor is raised through added compression, which means that the analogue circuitry used is remarkably clean, leaving your signal untainted.
Take one look at this pedal and you will understand that simplicity and sturdiness are a big part of the design idea. Made from two pieces of steel, this pedal’s rugged construction means you won’t have to worry about treating it gently, despite its budget price tag. Even the colour scheme and graphic design of the logo evoke some kind of Soviet style practicality and simplicity, although this may or may not have been exactly the Danish company’s intention.
IT’S GOOD TO BE ACCESIBLE
Like the rest of the pedals in this range, the Forcefield has a top mounted input/ouput, so that the pedals can sit flush next to each other. This will save space on your board, although obviously a lot of other pedals are side mounted.
While it is true that this unit lacks some of the enjoyable characteristics of several of the big name and large price tag compressors, considering how much these pedals cost, it does remarkably well. The Forcefield can apply subtle amounts of compression as well as really flattening out your signal and smearing it with sustain. It certainly is made with an understanding of what a compressor is supposed to do and does that admirably.
Hits and Misses
Easy to use
No option to blend the compressed and original signals