ISP Tech­nolo­gies Deci-Mate

Australian Guitar - - Contents -

BUCK WALLER, A PI­O­NEER IN NOISE RE­DUC­TION, UN­VEILS HIS LAT­EST HIGH-TECH, LOW-PRO­FILE BUZZ BAT­TLER. WORDS BY PE­TER HODG­SON.

ISP Tech­nolo­gies was founded by Buck Waller, who pre­vi­ously rev­o­lu­tionised the things we don’t hear about the gui­tar when he cre­ated the HUSH sys­tem for Rock­tron.

Noise types and re­quire­ments have changed a lot over the last few decades, and the ISP Dec­i­ma­tor broke new ground a few years ago with its un­prece­dented track­ing and sound qual­ity. The Dec­i­ma­tor II fam­ily of prod­ucts took things even fur­ther and brought with it a whole new spate of fea­tures, but not every player needs as com­plex a gate as, say, the Dec­i­ma­tor II G-String, which has a con­fus­ing ar­ray of ins and outs.

Nope, some play­ers just want re­al­time noise re­duc­tion that doesn’t suck their tone or ruin their sus­tain. And a lot of play­ers want a smaller ped­al­board foot­print, par­tic­u­larly for the kind of ped­als that one might set and for­get, such as noise gates, buf­fers, tuners and the like.

So, ISP has in­tro­duced the Deci-Mate Mi­cro Dec­i­ma­tor Pedal: a teeny lit­tle fella that will nev­er­the­less have a big ef­fect on your tone.

STRING THE­ORY

The Dec­i­ma­tor se­ries works a lit­tle dif­fer­ently to most noise gates. A reg­u­lar noise gate will sim­ply close the sig­nal when the in­put dips be­low a cer­tain level. This can re­sult in notes be­ing chopped off un­nat­u­rally when you’re try­ing to hold a chord. ISP’s new Dec­i­ma­tor X tech­nol­ogy is de­signed to cre­ate a fully adap­tive re­lease re­sponse, track­ing the en­ve­lope of the sig­nal and in­stantly chang­ing the re­lease from su­per fast to a long, smooth re­lease for sus­tained notes.

This is how ISP’s pre­vi­ous tech­nol­ogy worked too, but now it’s been even fur­ther re­fined, us­ing time vec­tor in­te­gra­tion to elim­i­nate any weird lit­tle mod­u­la­tion arte­facts that may oc­cur as the note tails off. It’s ac­tu­ally a full ana­log de­sign with no dig­i­tal arte­facts or alias­ing, so it’s de­signed to be in­cred­i­bly trans­par­ent.

In terms of con­trols, the Deci-Mate is stupidly sim­ple: on­board lies noth­ing more than a Thresh­old knob. There’s no need for the Re­lease con­trol found on the ma­jor­ity of noise gates, since the Dec­i­ma­tor X takes care of that for you. The unit is true-by­pass, but when it’s en­gaged it’s ca­pa­ble of greater than 90 deci­bels of ef­fec­tive noise re­duc­tion. The pedal cas­ing it­self is pretty damn tough, which seems to be an across-the-board re­quire­ment for ISP, be­cause their ped­als are so hardy you could prob­a­bly use them to ham­mer a nail in (but don’t try it and blame us). The pedal is pow­ered by a 9VDC sup­ply, which is not in­cluded. It’s not able to be pow­ered by a bat­tery.

WHAT DOES IT NOT SOUND LIKE?

It’s kind of dif­fi­cult to de­scribe a pedal when, by its very na­ture, its rea­son for ex­ist­ing is the com­plete ab­sence of sound! That said, the Deci-Mate helps you to sound bet­ter by tak­ing out the noises you don’t want and let­ting through the noises you do want.

The best way to quickly test this was to plug my Even­tide H9 Max into the Deci-Mate, then play around with de­lay tails. The pedal didn’t even make a fuss when the echoes faded out; they sounded nat­u­ral, ta­per­ing off smoothly rather than get­ting chopped off un­nat­u­rally.

I also plugged my no­to­ri­ously noisy, sin­gle coil-loaded Fender Amer­i­can Vin­tage ‘62 Stra­to­caster Reis­sue into my Mar­shall set to kill, held a note, and the sig­nal faded out nat­u­rally. It was a lit­tle un­usual, ac­tu­ally – we gui­tarists are so used to ex­pect­ing to hear 60-cy­cle hum from sin­gle coils that it can be a lit­tle con­fus­ing to not hear that el­e­ment.

Of course, if you pile on too many noisy ef­fects, you risk your back­ground noise equalling that of the gui­tar it­self, which will con­fuse the Dec­i­ma­tor X cir­cuitry. But there aren’t re­ally any real-world mu­si­cal sit­u­a­tions in which you might turn all of your ped­als on at once.

One caveat: if you’re into the ul­tra-gated, djenty tones of your Mer­rows and your Man­soors, you’ll need much tighter thresh­old set­tings than if you’re play­ing blues-rock or some­thing, so take that un­der ad­vise­ment. It can def­i­nitely do the tight-gate metal thing, but you’re ask­ing for trou­ble if you go straight from a set­ting de­signed for a stac­cato high-gain rhythm sound to a clean tone with ring­ing chords.

THE BOT­TOM LINE

The ISP Deci-Mate will ben­e­fit every gui­tarist who has ever felt that noise was get­ting in the way of their self ex­pres­sion. It’s also es­pe­cially good news for gui­tar techs and sound engi­neers who feel that noise is get­ting in the way of their san­ity.

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