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Carl Martin Comp/Limiter (2018 version) Review

The Carl Martin Comp/Limiter should not be confused with the Carl Martin Compressor/Limiter.

This Comp/Limiter is new for 2018 and was developed to be a more simple and smaller, more pedalboard friendly compressor. Yes, the naming convention is confusing between Compressor/Limiter and Comp/Limiter. As far as I know, this is the first published review of the new Carl Martin Comp/Limiter.

Unlike the original Compressor/Limiter, the Comp/Limiter has only two knobs: Comp and Level.

Comp or Compression sets the ratio of the compression applied to your signal. It has a very wide range from very slight to all out limiting. You can dial in total squash if you want it. Surprisingly, it has very little (if any) dip and swell. Pretty impressive on that front. I was most pleased with the dial at about 7:00 or 8:00. Yes, not very much compression at all but it made for a real nice smooth yet open light smoothing out of my signal. Things start getting noticeably squashy at 9:30 already.

The Level knob is your make-up gain and you'll need it as you increase the compression. Due to the extreme amounts of compression on tap, the signal becomes softer quickly and fortunately there is plenty of gain on tap to compensate.

The original Compressor/Limiter incorporates controls for threshold and response (attack/release and knee). Reviews of this pedal have suggested it can be tricky to dial in and is more for those who are comfortable tweaking and adjusting knobs. This new Comp/Limiter is the opposite. You've got just the compressor dial as the threshold and response settings are fixed from the factory. I found the inherent attack and threshold pleasing.

I tend to prefer moderate attack and slow release and the Carl Martin Comp/Limiter did not disappoint.

I think this would be a good choice for those wanting smooth, natural compression. To achieve this, you are going to keep the comp dial at 9:00 or less. The sound is inherently transparent. There is no "tone magic" going on. To my ear, lows were maintained well. Headroom was never an issue. I think highs might be attenuated just a bit and depending on which bass I was using, I found myself doubting this statement. Regardless, if highs are being rolled off it isn't going to be much of a problem and I doubt most people would be dissatisfied. It is a neutral sounding compressor — pretty much your tone going in is what comes out. But what comes out has a fullness and transparent smoothing that is quite pleasing.

At low to moderate settings the Comp/Limiter is very quiet. As you increase the compression and subsequently increase the level, more noise from your signal path becomes noticeable.

The enclosure is very attractive in my opinion.

It is a nice anodized enclosure and with shiny bezel. It is quite light weight but seems well built. Top mounted jacks and 9-volt power input. The pedal requires 9 volts center negative pin and does not accept a 9-volt battery.

The foot switch is not true bypass. LED lights blue when engaged. There is no LED indicating threshold/gain reduction.

In summary, if you want a small, very simple, no frills user friendly compressor capable of limiting or neutral, transparent, subtle compression, the new 2018 Carl Martin Comp/Limiter could be one to put on your short list.

Retail price: $199.95


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