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This article was originally published in issue #37
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Up to now, TC Electronic’s stunningly successful TonePrint pedals have spanned the world of drive, modulation and time-based effects with a variety of pedals that can be loaded with presets from some of the top guitarists in the world with ease. For its latest releases in the TonePrint range, TC has opted to go down the often overlooked world of utility-based effects pedals with the release of the HyperGravity Compressor and Sentry Noisegate.
The HyperGravity is designed as a studio quality multiband compressor, based on the highly revered System 6000 dynamics processor, while the Sentry Noisegate is a high-tech, multiband noise suppressor and gate with a send and return loop for the most dynamic response possible. Both pedals assume the same, recognisable footprint and design as the other TonePrint pedals with a strong metal chassis, non-latching switches, high end components, true-bypass operation and low 100mA power requirement from their 9v inputs. Let’s check each pedal out individually.
TC Electronic HyperGravity Compressor
As we've seen, the HyperGravity differs from other pedal style compressors on the market in that it is a multiband type, applying differing levels of compression to your high, mid and low frequencies in order to achieve the most transparent results possible. This technology is usually the reserve of studio gear, where the frequency range of each compression band can be tailored to give the most appropriate compression. The HyperGravity does this all behind the scenes, leaving you with control over the most important controls, Sustain, Level, Attack and Blend. There is also a small toggle switch giving you the option of ‘Spectra’ mode, the transparent multiband compression, a ‘Vintage’ mode for more traditional pedal type compression and the TonePrint option for loading your favourite artist presets via the USB port or TC’s extremely clever mobile app.
The Sustain controls the amount of compression, Attack determines how quickly the compression kicks in after receiving a signal and the Blend control determines the mix between the dry and compressed signals for even more transparency and dynamics, even at high compression settings. In Spectra mode the compression is really impressive, affecting pretty much only your feel and leaving your tone as intact as possible. At higher settings there is inevitably a little bit of pumping at lower attack settings but the Blend control alleviates this hugely giving you a highly compressed feel that still sounds musical. This mode makes it really easy to dial in just the right amount of compression and is especially great with drive pedals, keeping the tone intact even when placed after the drive pedal. The level control gives you a healthy amount of transparent boost for lead work on either clean or dirty sounds and works extremely well for taming the added volume from increasing the sustain without losing high end.
In the Vintage mode, the HyperGravity takes on a different sound with less transparency but introducing subtle grit into the tone for a slightly grungier feel. In this mode the pedal works more like a traditional compressor pedal and really highlights how transparent the multiband Spectra mode really is.
The HyperGravity is a very flexible and superb sounding compression pedal and the introduction of multiband techniques in a pedal format is hugely welcome given just how transparent it sounds. The addition of a blend control is very welcome and matched with TC’s exceptional build quality and TonePrint technology they are surely onto a winner with this package.
TC Electronic Sentry NoiseGate
In a world of amazing guitar FX pedals it’s pretty hard to get excited about a noise gate but for many guitar players it is an absolutely essential addition to their pedal board and its quality can really make or break your tone, especially when using a significant amount of gain or when playing in noisy venues. TC’s Sentry is a multiband noisegate that is designed with two modes, a traditional style Gate for removing all unwanted noise and hum plus a specific Hiss mode for removing annoying high frequency hiss from your signal. Of course they have also included a TonePrint mode for utilising your favourite artist presets.
The controls are really simple and belie the complex algorithm employed inside the pedal to help remove unwanted noise from your signal. There are three dials controlling Threshold, Decay and Damp for tailoring the required amount of noise reduction. The Threshold determines the sound level at which the gate closes shut with higher setting letting less and less of the signal through. The Damp control determines how much of the signal in dBs gets through the gate. Higher settings allow less and less of the signal through whereas lower setting offer a more natural response with more of the original signal passing through the gate. The Decay controls the amount of time it takes for the gate to close after receiving signal, with higher setting snapping the gate shut immediately and lower settings giving a more natural feel. Also included is a send/return loop for connecting your noisiest pedals.
When connected to the loop, the Sentry does an even better job of reducing noise from those pedals and offers an even more natural response. You can also patch another instrument or audio signal such a drum loop to create some cool creative rhythmic effects that follow the signal in the loop.
In use the Sentry does a superb job of removing the noise from your signal whilst keeping your tone intact. The reduction can go from totally noise free, instantly clamped down gates for heavily distorted tones that need to be as tight as possible to subtle hiss and hum removal without affecting your feel in noisy venues. The addition of the loop is a great idea and I can see guitar players really exploiting the rhythmic possibilities that this could provide.
If you need a really solid and well-built noisegate with some cool features that are really easy to use and don’t affect your base tone, then the Sentry should be very high on your list.