Alesis NanoCompressor


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The NanoCompressor is “the other, other” compressor from Alesis. It’s a 1/3U stereo compressor ideal for smashing drums and nuking snares, also for squashing bass guitar

The Nano has many similarities with the Alesis 3630 – it’s a simple, to-the-point compressor with few bells & whistles. The Nano ditches the useless features of the 3630 – noise gate, etc – and simplifies by using only one sidechain circuit. This makes it a stereo-only compressor

Nano continues the minimalist approach with five main controls: Threshold, Ratio, Attack, Release & Output. If you’re used to compressors, none of these requires explanation. In addition it has pushbutton switches for Soft / Hard, (to change the shape of the “knee” at which compression begins), Peak / RMS (this alters the response to signal peaks or average values), Input / Output (to switch the metering) and Bypass / Comp (to bypass the compressor)

Although the pushbutton switches are tiny, and difficult to read, this doesn’t matter a jot. Compressors should be set by ear. The main controls are large and have a very useable range – far better than the 3630 which is very picky about settings

The NanoCompressor is a stereo device. This means stereo drum ambience, parallel buses and backing vocals are all targets for some serious compression. It will do subtle compression as well as vicious but I think it excels at the nasty stuff. The provision of a sidechain insert jack means frequency-dependent compression is easily done

In my tests I found the NanoCompressor to be entertaining and thoroughly useable. As usual with cheaper compressors, finding the exact threshold for the effect you want is quite critical. Once there, attack & release determine the character of the compression “shape”*

It’s possible to create all kinds of vicious pumping effects so the Nano will appeal to all those wanting parallel bus compression and dirty compression effects. When used as a subtle compressor it works well without shining in any particular area. In that respect it’s like most cheaper VCA compressors – bland and unobtrusive – but, unlike the others, it’s also capable of being mean & vicious. My recommendation: use your RNC for Nice compression and the NanoCompressor (or Alesis Micro Limiter) for Dirty

“It’s coolest thing since sliced bread”

“This seems to be all the compressor anyone would want. Although I will probably get another one, so I can have one doing some mild compression, and one set up for “brick-wall” limiting”

“Q: Alesis NanoCompressor vs. RNC: How do the two compare to each other? Are they similar, the same or what? A: You’re kidding, right?”

* In the same way as the ADSR settings (Attack, Decay, Sustain, Release) of a synthesiser envelope, attack & release determine the rise & fall times of a compressor. On a single hit (cowbell, etc) the times will be predictable but, on more continuous signals (drum kit, stereo mix, etc), the compressor will be pushed back into gain reduction by successive signal peaks. This is why the threshold setting is so critical. If it’s set too low, the compressor will be in gain reduction continuously and the effect of the attack & release times will tend to be masked

Some compressors (UREI 1176, for example), sound equally good with a little gain reduction or with lots. Cheaper compressors have a narrower window in which they sound good. The NanoCompressor is not bad in this respect – it’s way better than the 3630 – but it needs care in setting up to get the best result

Inputs & outputs are unbalanced on jack sockets. The sidechain has a send / return insert on a stereo jack. Nominal operating level is -10 dBV. Input impedance is high (1 MΩ) so suitable for use with guitars & basses, etc. Power is from an external 9 VAC power supply (included)
Owners manual Youtube demo on guitar & drums Ovnilab Review AudioFanzine Four-and-a-half Star ★★★★ Review Harmony Central Four Star ★★★★ Review
Excellent used condition, almost unmarked. Works 100%. External 9 VAC power adaptor supplied All vintage gear will have case scratches and marks. It may also have, or develop, noisy pots and switches. I make my descriptions as accurate as possible and note any existing defects. I test each item before shipping, and and supply a test sheet for it, but please understand that vintage gear will not be perfect and adjust your expectations accordingly