This new little compressor pedal is manufactured in Romania in their own lab. While the Becos CompIQ MINI Pro may be little, it is not short on features. The team at Becos managed to cram a whole lot of versatility into a small form factor. In fact, this micro pedal packs more tweak ability options than you would find in many compressor pedals more than twice its size. It is a Blackmer® VCA type compressor with FET active circuitry and WIMA audio capacitors.
The enclosure is the metal Hammond and feels solid with some weight to it. There are three top mounted dials, one dial on the right side, one small switch, and an internal jumper. There is a green power LED and a 5 LED gain reduction meter. Wow! Don't forget this is a tiny pedal.
The Ratio dial adjusts the ratio from very no compression 1:1 (all the way counter clockwise) to limiting action Infinity:1 (all the way clockwise). That's a wide range and I found it useful all the way across the dial. From light compression providing general smoothing out of notes to limiting action the Compiq is more than capable. The manual says says the compression level will be 2:1 ratio at 9:00. Noon equates to 4:1 and 3:00 equates to 10:1.
The Threshold dial adjusts the signal level after which compression is applied. So at lower thresholds the compressor kicks in immediately. Set higher means more of your signal passes untouched. There is 50db of threshold range so this little compressor will accommodate a big range of instruments and output levels.
Both of these controls are very interactive. The gain reduction meter certainly helps understand what the compressor is doing but you are wise to you ear while dialing in. The gain reduction meter is very effective. The first three LEDs that light are green, the third is yellow, and the final LED is red indicating significant gain reduction.
The Gain dial allows you to make up any gain lost with the adjustments of ratio and threshold. As is expected, the higher you turn the gain, the more noise is introduced to the signal. Adjusting the threshold or the wet dry mix (side knob) variables first can help mitigate added noise. The CompIQ MINI Pro isn't overly noisy, but it is definitely not as quiet as the Diamond or FEA line of compressors. The wet dry mix knob on the side is really an important part of the mix. There is plenty of gain on tap.
The Wet Dry mix dial mounted on the right side of the pedal allows you to blend as much or little of your clean signal with the output compressed signal. In the middle, the mix is 50/50. When set to 100% dry (all the way counter clockwise), the CompIQ MINI Pro acts like a buffer. The Wet Dry knob makes a lot of difference. More and more compressors these days seem to include a blend feature, but this one works really, really well. You will readily hear different tones and feel as you adjust and there is obvious interaction with the Ratio and Threshold dials in particular but also the amount of gain you will need to adjust. All of the adjustments work together.
Tucked in between the Ratio and Threshold dial is a small switch to adjust Soft or Hard Compression Knee. When set to Hard, the compression is more evident and the ear will perceive compression dynamics more easily. The Hard knee makes the compression/limiting effect more obvious. You'll want to flip the switch to Soft Knee if you prefer more subtle application of compression. People often prefer a soft knee with a lower threshold for a more fluid or less dramatic effect. Here you have your choice and it is really a great feature. One not found on many compressors, let alone one the size of the CompIQ MINI Pro.
But wait! There's more.
The Becos CompIQ MINI offers dynamic processing of attack and release timing. This means that short transients are handled with faster timings, while steady signals get slower timings.
I've used the Compiq into a Genzler amp through Genzler cabinets, via earphone out with Beyerdynamic DT770's, and live in a 2500 person auditorium and I never felt like I wished I had manual control of attack and release timing. Whatever is going on with the circuit, it works. But, inside the pedal Becos provides a jumper to accommodate a faster or slower attack and release time. It is on by default corresponding to slower timings (10-15ms Attack, 100-220ms Release). You can take the jumper off which makes the adaptive timings faster (5-7ms Attack, 70ms Release). You will notice relatively dramatic differences. The jumper is circled below.
I had the pleasure of dialoguing with Becos and there are several learnings and additional commentary I'd like to share as a result.
1. Becos will soon be shipping a new version of the CompIQ which replaces the internal attack/release timing jumper with an external switch. No doubt this will make an already versatile even more useful and is a nice enhancement. Here's a couple of pics of the new edition which will be shipping immediately. There will be no change in price for this added feature.
2. Though the pedal operates at 9 volts with standard center negative pin, Becos says it will operate at 12 volts. Benefit really is only a bit more headroom and a bit more gain.
There is a whole lot of versatility in an amazingly small package here. This isn't a compressor that is going to impart some sort of flavor or coloration to your tone. If you are looking for "tone magic" this isn't it. It reminds me a lot of the Keeley Bassist (and Keeley Compressor Pro) and the Empress Compressor. It offers more controllability and versatility than the Keeley Bassist and does a great job of subtle compression all the way to harder limiting action. You get clear transparent compression. Your tone stays the same, but comes out better. I didn't notice any loss of highs or lows. I had no issues with any of my basses and never had concern about headroom. It has a great feel to it and is a joy to use. Doesn't really make your tone bigger or fatter but it does do compression really well. It sounds great. Turn it off and you'll immediately want to turn it back on. This was true when playing live and through my Beyerdynamics. I switched back and forth between 9 volt and 12 volt operation a lot but didn't perceive any real difference.
The footswitch is true bypass. Side mounted input and output jacks. The knobs are plastic but rotate with a solid feel. I would personally prefer the side mounted wet/dry dial to be a bit larger. A little goes a long way and the small dial is a little tricky make precise adjustments. I suspect Becos is trying to keep that knob small and out of the way of patch cables. Sometimes small pedals can feel fragile, but this pedal seems to be of high quality and feels solid.
I'd also like to point out that the included manual is probably the most helpful descriptive language I've seen included with a compressor pedal. Those new to compression will definitely benefit from the informational content. Even if you are a compressor junky you will find aspects helpful to understand exactly what to expect from the Becos CompIQ MINI Pro. Nice job Becos!
There are other small format compressors on the market but I'm not aware of anything that comes close to the punch Becos packs into the CompIQ MINI Pro. All at a price of $149.95. There is a lot to like for sure. It works great with bass. This little pedal rivals many full-featured compressors on the market at a fraction of the size. The words "Pro Compressor" on the face of the compressor is appropriate. I think Becos has a hit on their hands.
Note: Retail price is now $168.