How do you fit a Cali76 / SlideRIG into a compact stompbox?
In designing the Compact Series pedals, Origin Effects has gone to painstaking lengths to preserve the build quality and sonic integrity of the original Cali76 and SlideRIG circuits, even improving on them where possible.
The reduction in size has been achieved by using a mixture of traditional through-hole and SMD components, spread across a pair of densely populated, stacked boards. The signal path utilises film and tantalum capacitors, carefully chosen low-noise transistors and rugged MELF resistors (essentially traditional through-hole resistors without the leads), which offer low-noise performance and rock-solid reliability.
One of the reasons why the original Origin pedals sound so good is that they deliver true FET compression, with a fast yet highly musical response that is a world away from the brutal and unforgiving sound of traditional VCA compressor pedal designs. The new Compact Series pedals stay true to Origin’s design philosophy with absolutely no opamps or VCAs used in the signal path.
The new pedals are powered by mains adapter only. Dispensing with the usual internal 9V battery option allows more space inside the enclosure for high-quality circuitry, while also supporting the high-current circuit design that is the key to these pedals’ astonishingly low noise levels.
What power supply should I use with my compact pedal?
The compact pedals are designed to be accepting of a range of power supplies, whilst delivering impeccable performance.
100mA will be perfectly adequate for the Cali76-C & SlideRIG-C models. In the case of the more thirsty, Cali76-CD, Cali76-CB & SlideRIG-CD, we suggest using a DC supply with a current rating in excess of 100mA. In the case of Voodoo Lab and Cioks supplies a 100mA rated output will be fine under normal operating conditions.
Supply voltage can be in the range of 9V – 18V DC. 18V will give the most headroom, allowing for higher levels of compression before clipping occurs.
We always recommend using a regulated power supply for noise and reliability considerations. Having said that, the compact units feature a voltage-limited, floating regulator which will help clean up some of the noisier supplies out there, as well as reducing the risk of failure due to plugging in the wrong supply. It should be noted that while linear-supplies noise can be filter relatively easily, certain switch-mode supplies can be highly problematic due to noise artifacts that extend well into radio frequencies.
What bypass scheme do you use in the compact pedals?
Our original series of large format compressors feature switchable true-bypass and buffered-bypass modes utilising a three pole mechanical switch in the signal path.
In the case of the compact series of pedals, we’ve opted to go with a fixed buffered bypass scheme. This guarantees transparent signal transfer, correct pickup loading, reliability and noiseless switching.
True bypass relies on the use of more complex mechanical switches and/or relays which all generate small amounts of switching noise. Our pedals (particularly the SlideRIG) apply extreme amounts of gain and this tends to accentuate even the slightest of noise sources. In an effort to get ever closer to perfection we’ve chosen to opt for a switching system that places the switch outside of the signal path.
True-bypass is great when you want to be sure that a pedal is not colouring your tone when switched off. However, plugging your guitar into long cables and/or chains of true-bypass style pedals will result in some high frequency loss due to the inductance and capacitance of cable and wiring. Cheap patch leads are particularly bad in this respect. Buffered-bypass schemes will effectively drive the signal down your cables to maintain a full and natural frequency response.
If you require true bypass from a compact pedal, an external looper can be used.
What's your favourite Cali76 setting?
Results: Percussive Compression for Soloing into a Clean Amp (like a Fender Twin Reverb).
The initial transient of each note should leap out of the amp, especially when playing staccato runs of notes! I love the Allman Brothers and this setting really enhances the chimey tone of my SG when I play those Dickey Betts lines!
Input: 3 o’clock with humbuckers, fully cranked with single coils;
Output: to taste, without over-driving the input of the amp;
Attack: Fully Counter-Clockwise
Release: Fully clockwise
Release 4:1 – Fully Counter-Clockwise
“TX” Rear Panel Switches: in downwards positions.
What to avoid!
A FET compressor is a powerful form of compression, due to the fact that it can respond so quickly. However, this isn’t always a good thing and when used with guitar it’s very easy to select settings that result in audible distortion artifacts.
When compressing you’re essentially attacking the waveform, and so you must be careful not to gouge out large chunks! Dialing in high levels of Ratio, along with very fast Attack and Release settings WILL result in distortion. These distortion artifacts will get more audible on lower strings, and when playing complex “jazzy” chords. For this reasons it’s often best to offset particularly strong settings on one of the Attack, Release, or Ratio controls, by dialing in less extreme settings on the other two knobs.
What the hell is release?
There’s a lot of confusion when it comes to using attack and release controls with guitar. Having happily typed a short novel to a customer (I’m ALWAYS happy to help) I thought I would share the knowledge…
The release control cannot be used to increase sustain, but it can do good stuff…
Fundamentally, a compressor will reduce the level of a loud signal, whilst in the case of the Cali76 & SlideRIG, also applying a degree of boost to quieter signals. When the compressor applies “gain-reduction” the loud signal is made to be quieter. Once the loud signal has been safely seen off the compressor will relax and return back to it’s normal state. The release control governs how quickly the compressor returns back to it’s normal state i.e. back to applying a degree of boost.
A very fast release means that the compressor will react quickly and fully recover between all notes. Imagine a scale of loud staccato notes. With a fast release, the compressor will reduce the level of each note in an identical way, whilst fully recovering in time to address the next note in the sequence. The compressor will therefore balance out the level of each note against its neighbour! More than likely, you will hear the compressor quickly pump as the gain is modulated. Also, with a slow attack the compressor will impart a satisfying percussive thud on each note!
A slow release will mean that the compressor can’t return to is normal state before the next note is played. This means that in a scale of notes the dynamic relationship between adjacent notes is pretty-much preserved. There is no “pumping” effect. In fact everything sounds pretty natural! Note to shops: this is a crap setting to dial in when trying to demo an “exciting & impressive” compressor pedal! Though not as exciting, this type of setting is highly useful for ironing-out level differences between passages of playing, for example for balancing single notes lines against more energetic rhythm playing!
Which frequencies are effected by the HPF on the Cali76 Compact Bass?
The frequencies filtered out of the sidechain are 20Hz (most filtered) to 350Hz (least filtered). Turning the HPF control clockwise reduces the amount of these frequencies that trigger the compressor, making them relatively louder than frequencies above 350Hz.
The HPF is most dramatic on bass instruments such as electric and acoustic bass, piano and upright (double) bass, but can really help add punch and clarity to drop-tuned electric guitar.
Can the Noble Amplifier Company Preamp power the Cali76-TX?
The Noble Amplifier Company Preamp will only power the Cali76-TX in standard mode. Use one of the 9V outlets to power your Cali76-TX if using this preamp.
The transformer circuitry is switched in by relays when provided with 14.6V. If the -TX has powered up with the transformer engaged then dropping the voltage below 12.6V will switch out the transformer circuitry; the Cali76-TX will then perform like a Cali76 Standard.
We do not recommend using a supply of 12V – 15V as possible variation in regulation of mains voltage could cause the transformer stage to switch in and out of operation. 18V is recommended for best results when using the transformer output stage.
Can you modify my Origin Effects pedal?
Unfortunately, we don’t offer modifications or custom electronics work. Back when Origin Effects was just a one-man workshop, Simon had time to modify pedals and make one-off designs but as the business has grown we must pay our full attention to the production of current models and developing new designs.
How do I know whether I have Cali76-TX or -TX-L?
The easiest way to tell is by the serial number: pedals fitted with a Lundahl transformer have a letter “L” at the end of the serial number.
The hard way is to remove the pedal’s base and look for the transformer. If it’s black then it’s our own “Iron-core” TX and if it has a silver transformer cover that has Lundahl’s logo on it then, you guessed it, you have a TX-L.
Where can I buy a Cali76-TX-P / -TX-L-P / -G / -G-P...?
We are no longer planning on reintroducing the TX-P or G-P Cali76 models in the foreseeable future. These models required a huge deal of man-hours and didn’t prove to be cost-effective for us. We may reintroduce a parallel transformer-equipped compressor in the future but it would probably be in a smaller format and need a lot more time to redesign the PCB and enclosure.
These models show up on eBay, Reverb.com, Craigslists etc, from time to time so keep an eye out!