The TZZ1954 FCL is a FET type compressor limiter designed by John Tomaszewicz of JT Sound. It has seven controls on the face of the pedal allowing you to control many aspects of compression.
Despite the level of control available, it is easy to dial in.
Starting from the top row furthest right.
Input: This dial allows you to set the amount of gain on the signal coming in to the compressor. I am a fan of compressors offering this function because it allows the compressor to optimally drive the compression circuit with lower output instruments to high output instruments, such as those with onboard preamps.
Output: Controls the output volume of the pedal. There is plenty of gain on tap — more than anybody could really use I think. You will have no issue with makeup gain, even if you dial in more aggressive compression settings.
Attack: The attack time is continuously variable and is adjustable from less than 20 microseconds to 800 microseconds. Turning clockwise slows the attack time which allows more transients through. I found my sweet spot to be between 2:00 and 3:00 on the dial for a fair amount of transients through but yet still taking off the edge.
Ratio: Between 7:00 and 9:00 you might think the compressor isn't doing anything at all. That is until you turn it off. You'll then realize what you were missing. At more extreme settings, say 2:00 or higher, the compression circuit becomes very squishy. Yet even at these more aggressive settings, the feel of the compression is natural. Thought dynamics are squashed you don't get the dip-and-swell reaction that is common with many compressors.
Direct: The direct signal control is there to let you dial in as little or as much of your dry (uncompressed) signal as you'd like. I'm a fan of compressors offering this control because it allows you to dial in more aggressive compression settings and then provides you a way to bring back some unaffected signal to restore transients and dynamics. It's like the best of both worlds. In the case of the TZZ 1954FCL the blend (Direct) control works very well. I found my sweet spot between noon and 2:30 which allowed me to dal in a ratio of noon or higher with a relatively low threshold.
Threshold: Allows full control over the point at which a signal is compressed. The more clockwise you turn the dial, the lower the threshold. the lower the threshold, the more your signal crosses the point at which the signal is effected. My sweet spot was between 10:00 and noon, unless I had more dry signal blended in. Then I liked the Threshold set lower at noon to 2:00.
The TZZ 1954FCL makes a great choice for one looking for a highly versatile compressor that is equally good at subtle smoothing to all-out limiting. It does it all while remaining quite transparent.
It is not a "tone magic" device but it isn't sterile either.
The TZZ 1954FCL offers a fair amount of opportunity for knob twiddling, but I think most users will find it quite easy to dial in. The only exception might be the Attack and Release timing. Both certainly work as intended, but they are so smooth and fluid that changes don't come across as obvious. Using your ear though, you'll hear it working. Listen for it.
If you are looking for a utilitarian and versatile compressor, almost like a one-size-fits-all device, I would recommend the JT Sound TZ 1954FCL.
It does both the compressing thing and limiting well. It can handle a passive bass or guitar and bring it to life. At the same time, it will handle a high output bass guitar including those with 18 volt preamps. At least that was my experience.
It will smooth out your playing. It will add a little special something. It will work as an always on device or one that you kick on for certain applications. It's a fantastic generalist.
Compared to the Empress compressor the TZZ 1954FCL sounds more complex — a little something special happening. Not a major tone coloration like you'd expect from the Diamond or Mad Professor Forest Green or the tube tone from a tube compressor. Just a little something nice. Definitely transparent but not sterile.
The enclosure is solid and the whole pedal seems to be good quality. It is a bit larger than the older Diamond style case but not by much.
A blue LED illuminates when activated. There is no LED indicating gain reduction.
Inputs are on the left and right with power input on the top.
Foot switch is a nice soft switch.
It operates at 9 volts and can be operated with a 9 volt battery.
• Sounds great
• Well built
• Equally good as a compressor or limiter
• Offers plenty of control
• Capable of running off 9-volt batteries
• A bit large
• Transparent (nothing magical about the tone)
• No gain reduction LED metering
Retail Price: $299