Becos is a small but extremely ambitious stompbox brand from the Black Sea port of Constanța in Romania. The Stella is its flagship compressor for guitar and bass and it’s quite something: a compact pedal with nine knobs, four toggle switches and seven LEDs.
The idea was to pack all the features of a serious VCA compressor into a pedalboard-friendly format – and with the same audio quality. That’s what we mean by ambitious…
Controls for ratio, threshold, attack, release and gain make-up are self-explanatory, and having a wet/dry mix dial is an increasingly popular trick, but then we come to the stuff you really don’t expect to find on a pocket-sized stomper.
‘Tilt EQ’ can be used to boost treble and cut bass or vice versa, around a pivot point that can be set to either 1kHz or 330Hz. The attack and release controls can be bypassed with fast or slow presets and the knee can be set to hard or soft.
The sidechain filter lets lower frequencies through without triggering the compressor too quickly, and you can choose between ‘normal’, ‘low’ and ‘deep’ settings for this. Finally, the uncompressed part of the mix can be overdriven to simulate tape saturation.
If all that has set you running into the loving arms of your two-knob Dyna Comp, please don’t be daunted – in practice, it’s a lot simpler than it seems.
VCA compressors are known for being fast and transparent and that’s what you get here: it doesn’t make things sound drastically different, just magically nicer.
Single notes are thickened without thumping, and chords gel together in a way that somehow makes you sound like a better player. And while the added sparkle means this is not as pure a compressor as the great Origin Effects Cali76, that’ll be a plus for some players.
There’s no real need to stray from the basics with either guitar or bass: stick to soft knee, normal sidechain and fast timing and it’s just a question of tweaking the ratio and threshold to taste then playing with the gain and EQ for balance. Hiss never becomes a problem, and dialling in some gritty tape saturation can be a great way to further energise a clean tone.
Drawbacks? Well, those switches are almost impossible to get at, unless you have lollipop sticks for fingers. And more importantly, the pedal won’t work at all if the barrel tip on your power supply is less than 12mm long. Plenty are 10mm, so if you don’t like using batteries, you’d best check.
That aside, this is a proper gem. Becos sells direct via its website with free shipping within the EU; if you’re in the UK, it might be worth grabbing one right away before that no longer applies.
- PRICE £223
- DESCRIPTION VCA compressor pedal. Made in Romania
- CONTROLS Ratio, threshold, attack, gain, tilt EQ, release; wet/dry mix, dry saturation, dry level; toggle switches for hard/soft knee, neutral/low/deep side chain filter, high/low EQ pivot, manual/fast/slow timing; internal circuit jumpers for EQ bypass and dry signal low cut/high cut
- FEATURES True bypass; powered by 9-volt battery or mains supply (minimum 12mm barrel tip)
- DIMENSIONS 113 x 68 x 50mm
- CONTACT becosfx.com
Like this? Try these.
- Origin Effects Cali76 Compact Deluxe £279
- ThorpyFX The Fat General £220
- Keeley Compressor Pro £299