Boss has just unveiled its first noise gate pedal since 1987, the NS-1X Noise Suppressor – and this might be the pedal that to convert a new generation of players to the benefits of noise reduction.
Not that there aren’t large cohorts of players who need a little something to cut the hiss and hum from their electric guitar tone. The punishing high-gain conditions that metal guitar players operate in – particularly those cloistered in the staccato rhythmic chug-life of djent – will often call for a noise gate.
You are never too late to try one. Zakk Wylde admitted that he only recently added one to his ‘board once he got the call to join the Pantera reunion, and that man eats overdrive pedals for breakfast. Thank goodness GW published a buyer's guide to help Wylde make the right choice.
But Boss says that its sequel to the venerable NS-2 is not just a niche pedal. It has a circuit that has been designed for players of many different styles to reap the benefits. Crucially, it is voiced to stay out of the way of your playing and to “intelligently” tidy things up. To do this, Boss deploys Multi-Dimensional Processing (MDP) technology.
“Speedy processing and versatile operation modes deliver superior performance for a wide range of scenarios, from gentle noise reduction for general stage and studio setups to ultra-fast gating for heavy rhythm styles and other techniques that rely on high-gain tones,” reads the statement from the Japanese guitar effects pedal giant.
The NS-1X has three operating modes: Reduction, Mute and Gate. Casual users who perhaps just want to spruce up their sound, trim a little hum from running single coils when running an analog chorus pedal in the signal path, might select the Reduction mode. Reduction will come in handy for recording and works well with all pickup styles, maintaining natural note decay.
Mute mode comes in handy when performing live – it simply mutes your signal, allowing you to address the crowd, change instruments, or take a beat to consult your guitar tuner.
Finally, Gate mode applies “ultra-fast” noise suppression to clean up high-gain tones when sweep picking, playing stunt legato, and of course engaging in the rough and tumble of a contemporary metal riff.
The pedal does all this by analysing your signal in real-time, processing it across multiple parameters simultaneously to identify and suppress unwanted hiss.
The control setup is straightforward, with Threshold, Decay, and Damp knobs to adjust the performance of the unit, and a three-way rotary dial to select the mode. A Reduction indicator positioned underneath the controls shows you how hard the pedal is working.
Other features include a send/return loop that can be considered the naughty step for those pedals that produce the most noise, offering an “enhanced performance” for the recalcitrant fuzz pedal or distortion in your life.
The Boss NS-1X Noise Suppressor was a long time coming, but it’s here now and it is priced $199. See Boss for more details.