I’ve featured Becos FX on this site a few times now - under Edits (for the CompIQ Stella and CompIQ Mini), so it was about time I dedicated a full article to this Romanian Compressor Specialist - AKA Costel Barac. The occasion here is the release of his most comprehensive and feature-rich compressor to date - looks like a 1590BB style enclosure which features near enough 2 CompIQ Stellas sort of side-by-side with no less than 15 control knobs and 6 switches - and where you can either double up the separate hi and lo frequency bands or stack your compression for even more gain and sustain.
Becos have always prided themselves on recreating the finest full-featured Studio Analog Rack-style Compressors in pedal format. I’ve followed the evolution from the early mini pedals - where I think I’ve stated on more than one occasion that were I in the market for a Mini Compressor - I would take the CompIQ Mini over everything else - including my much loved Wampler Ego Mini and Xotic Effects Alchemy Audio Modded SP Compressor Mini.
The Compact Compressor category has for a long time been bossed by Keeley and Origin Effects in particular - and there are a number of other notables in that category now doing interesting things - while the Becos CompIQ Stella is easily the most feature-rich and comprehensive at that level. My current Compressor of choice (and in my chain) is the Jackson Audio Bloom - but that also contains a formidable EQ Section and Clean Boost which I use regularly in the rig - and in that particular 3-in-1 category it’s really only between the Bloom and the DryBell Unit67. For a solely Compressor unit though - the CompIQ Stella would very much be my current weapon of choice - and I would take its extended range and controls over and above say the Origin Effects Cali76 which was on my very imminent acquisition list before the Jackson Audio Bloom popped up.
The CompIQ Stella features 9 knobs - 6 regular, 3 small - for Ratio, Threshold, Attack, Gain, Tilt-EQ and Release, then Wet/Dry Mix, Saturation (Tape Saturation) and Level. The 4 toggle switches are Knee - Hard/Soft, Side Chain Filter / Frequency Pass-through - Normal/Low(<90Hz - for Bass)/Deep(<200Hz - for Guitar), EQ Pivot Frequency - High(1KHz)/Low(330Hz), and Timing - Manual/Dynamic-Auto-FAST/Dynamic-Auto-SLOW. This is the only compact pedal I know to feature such advanced rack compressor settings.
The new CompIQ TWAIN takes things further still in some ways, but simplifies others as the Manual Timing Controls get sacrificed for dual settings - where you kind of end up with separate compressors for Lo and Hi Band Frequencies. Each side has Threshold, Ratio, Gain, Lo/Hi Saturation, Lo/Hi Cut and Level - with separate Knee and Timing toggle switches - Timing here is only of the Dynamic Auto variety - Fast or Slow. Then you have three dials which control the mix/throughput - Cross Over Frequency - 70Hz to 1KHz, Wet/Dry Mix, and -9dB to +6dB Input Trim. My only niggle with this pedal is clashing labels of the X-Over and Mix knobs which somewhat mesh in with the Trim control and can cause momentary confusion. There’s also a DB (Double) / STK (Stacked) button to be found on the right-hand edge of the pedal for selecting whether you want Dual Band or Stacked Compressors.
I dare say the TWAIN may be a little much for some - but it has some amazing possibilities that I’ve not seen in another pedal format. If you are into compression - then this will give you more control than any other comparable pedal-based unit. Price is also relatively reasonable considering the technology onboard - Two independent 4320 THAT Analog Engines® with RMS-level sensors coupled with high-performance Blackmer® VCA’s. The TWAIN is now open for preorders at €299/$329/£262, while the CompIQ Stella is €249/$281/£218 and the CompIQ Mini is €159/$179/£139.
There’s also an even simpler CompIQ Mini One version which does not hold quite as much appeal for me as these 3 other more full-featured hands-on ones. The Mini One very much simplifies compressor deployment and has a number of hardwired and smart automated parameters to make up for the fewer controls - and make it ideal for the set-and-forget type of player. The pedal does though have a handy Sensitivity switch which makes it more useful for Bass players in particular. I personally am more of a hands-on pedal-tweaker - and I prefer to have a few more user-controllable parameters at my disposal - but I can see that the Mini One would be the preferred choice for many players - and in particularly those who wish to keep things simple.
The CompIQ Mini - which is most likely my first likely acquisition here has 6 controls - 3 regular knobs - Ratio, Threshold, Gain and one small - Dry/Wet Mix - along with toggle switches for Knee - Hard/Soft and Dynamic Auto Timing - Fast/Slow. I would see that as a decent upgrade over my well-loved Wampler Mini Ego - especially the cool 5 segment LED meter. And would use the Mini to acclimatise myself to the Becos way of Compression before I would look to upgrade to the Stella - for sometime rotation on the Jackson Audio Bloom slot. I don’t always need that pedal’s EQ and Boost functions - and mostly actually just stick to the one Magenta mode - so there’s definitely a plan forming here. I do think I have stated before that I’m interested in acquiring both the CompIQ Mini and Stella at some stage - while not necessarily an imminent pressing priority as such.
Becos have steadily been building up a stellar reputation in this field - and are proper bona fide challenger to the existing Compressor Pedal hierarchy. Hopefully this article puts them on the map for a few more players and encourages further trials and take-up. This is the only brand that has solutions/options at all these different levels that I’m aware of - and each offering is category-leading for that form factor. Go on give them a try!
There don’t seem to be any TWAIN videos out yet - so I will make do with a couple or so on the equally stellar CompIQ Stella and CompIQ Mini, and I will add further videos as the materialise - Enjoy! :
Oh - and don’t forget to check out the Becos Online Shop - which lists prices in most of the key currencies. And if you ask nicely you can get your CompIQ Mini with all Blue LEDs - which is pretty cool!