The Meridian SN-15 is a product of Meridian Guitars of Italy. I've never laid hands on a Meridian bass but they appear to be gorgeous instruments, and expensive instruments.
The Meridian compressor follows the path of beauty with detail quite unique in the compressor market. The aluminum enclosure is saddled on either end with real wood.The knobs and font choice have a fine retro vibe happening.
Like an Italian sports car, it really is an attractive package.
A real craftsman style product.
The Meridian SN-15 is an optical circuit. There are 5 dials and two LED's on top.
The Master dial controls your overall output and makeup gain. There is plenty of gain on tap.
The Ratio dial controls how much the compressor will reduce the volume of sounds above the threshold. It has a relatively small range from 2:1 at all counterclockwise rotation to a max of 6:1 at full clockwise rotation. The Meridian SN-15 is more about subtle compression and smoothing and sustain. It is not suitable as a limiter to compress dramatic peaks.
The Attack dial controls the amount of the speed at which the compressor begins to reduce the gain of a signal once it has passed the threshold set by the user. The range is 1ms to 10ms, a pretty tight range. More clockwise slows the attack to allow more transient through.
The Release dial allows you to control time it takes the compressor to return to original volume after signal input falls below the threshold. The range here is 10ms to 500ms. Turning the dial more clockwise extends the release, sustaining notes longer. It is pretty good for sustain but depending on how high you set the threshold, you can definitely get the dip-and-swell effect.
The large dial in the middle controls the threshold, the point at which the compression kicks in. Rotating more clockwise lowers the threshold making the compression more sensitive to your playing. The range is -25dbu to +15dbu, which was plenty for me. The Threshold dial is very useful on this compressor and it makes sense for it to be the center placed tool. It is what you will likely tweak the most.
This is one of those compressors where all of the controls are interactive. You can easily dial in compression ratio in that 5:1 or 6:1 range with a long release and middle of the road attack, but then keep the threshold relatively low for nice smoothing effect.
The Meridian SN-15 is extremely transparent. It does nothing to add more booty. It is about clinical compression.
It seems to compress evenly across the board and will be greatly effected by a low B string, especially at a lower threshold level. But that is what some people are looking for in a compressor — bringing it al in to a compressed state.
If you are looking for a "tone magic" device or something to add color, this is not it. If you are looking for a boutique piece that will smooth out your tone and simply do compression you should consider the SN-15.
There is a LED that illuminates white when the pedal is activated. There is also a LED that illuminates white with increasing intensity as the compression is reducing the gain — doing more compression. This LED is useful to understand what the compressor is doing to your signal. To my ear, even when the LED is not illuminating, or barely illuminating, the compressor is definitely working. Certainly not as useful as a full LED array, but at least there is something here to indicate compression detail.
I did run into an issue with headroom with a couple of my basses with 9 or 18volt preamps with lower threshold and higher ratio. It is not a problem at all with passive basses or with a lighter touch, but with stronger playing and an active bass you might notice some distortion.
In and out jacks are top mounted as is the 9 volt DC power input. It will draw 100ma and runs on any Boss style power supply making this one very pedalboard friendly.
This beautiful compressor is also quite compact at 4.5" wide x 4.5" long X 2.5 tall.
Easy power requirements
LED for compression
No real tone enhancement (which isn't necessarily a bad thing)
Small compression ratio range
Retail price: $204.21 USD (at time of writing)