Monday, April 4, 2011

ISP Technologies Decimator Review

The Decimator's name is really quite fitting, it truly does Decimate all unwanted noise from your rig. Whether it's a noisy pedal, a buzzing amp or some poorly shielded pickups, that noise is gone.

Now you might be wondering how such a pedal could get rid of all that noise while still keeping your tone intact. Well ladies and gentlemen, this isn't your average noise gate, in fact, it isn't at all. It's more of a noise reducer. This allows you to turn the threshold up high (if needed) and not worry about the gate ruining the sustain and natural decay of your notes.


The Decimator is a very solid pedal to say the least. It's all chrome enclosure definitely protects the guts quite well and has quite a bit of heft to it. I was really surprised by the sheer density of the pedal. The chrome finish does pick up smudges easy though for all you perfectionists, but hey, it's job isn't to look pretty. Inside the foot switch is the battery compartment, it is easily reached by depressing the foot-switch and turning the knob on the front of the pedal. This is a definite plus as battery changes can be performed in less than a minute but I'm sure most people will be connecting a 9V adapter to this instead.

How it works

I'm no technical genius, I think the ISP Decimator product page describes how this beast works best.
The Decimator design offers a novel approach to tracking the envelope of the input signal called Time Vector Processing. Due to this novel approach in controlling the expander, the Decimator system will instantly respond to short staccato notes and, at the same time, will provide a very slow ripple free control of long sustained notes.
I really have found this to be true, I never feel like the notes I play are affected by this pedal, it just swallows up the background noise. Now on to the process of dialing it in, there's only one knob so it's not hard at all. All you do is turn the threshold knob until the noise or feedback disappears and you're done!

I currently use this in a very noisy setup, for some reason my Fuzz War and Internet together create some crazy noise that won't even go away with the volume on my guitar turned all the way down. I love the tone the combination gives me but I couldn't stand the loud static buzz between notes. So I plugged the Decimator into my chain (make sure it's last) and adjusted the threshold and boom, all the tone, none of the noise. I was seriously impressed, I didn't think I would be able to turn the threshold up as high as I did and still not affect my sustain or tone.

Battery Compartment

This will also work for more subtle situations too, of course. I have also used the Decimator with my Engl Fireball to get rid of some of that quiet-but-still-present high gain hiss.

Overall I'm extremely impressed with the Decimator and can't find much fault in it. Usually I would say more knobs to tweak to better tailor it to your sound, but just one gets the job done for me. It's well put together, works great and it's just the size of a typical Boss pedal so the footprint on your pedalboard is minimal. So if you're ever thinking you need to get rid of some noise in your set-up, the first place I would look is ISP's website, they have more advanced Decimator models as well if you need to run it in front of the amp as well as in the effects loop. Do keep in mind though, if the noise is minimal, is it really worth the board space and $120 to get rid of it? If you think so, I can't recommend the Decimator enough!

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