Product Review Of ISP Decimator Noise Gate Guitar Stompbox:
“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
Sometimes I feel like smacking myself on the forehead and shouting “Why didn’t I try this sooner?!” I’ve only recently (finally) gotten around to trying out the virtually ubiquitous ISP Decimator pedal and I feel myself having one of those moments again.
Like a lot of guitarists, I had a bit of a stigma regarding noise gates based on several units I’ve tried in the past that had a nasty tendency to kill dynamics or otherwise harm the tone or feel of the instrument.
The overwhelming praise that ISP Decimator Noise Gate Guitar Stompbox products seem to elicit everywhere they’re mentioned (along with a growing lack of patience for high gain preamp hiss) persuaded me to give gates another chance and I have to say (unsurprisingly) that the Decimator lives up to the hype for several important reasons.
Features of the ISP Decimator Noise Gate Guitar Stompbox:
First, the ISP Decimator Noise Gate Guitar Stompbox is exceptionally simple to use. While some other gates offer a combination of often ill-defined controls that make it tricky to strike a balance between noise reduction and tone preservation, the ISP has just one control for threshold.
Turn it up for more reduction, down for less. Simple, and effective. Setting up the ISP on my pedalboard took about 10 seconds (and most of that was attaching the velcro) I twisted the know until the hiss was gone and I was done, easy.
Second, the ISP Decimator Noise Gate Guitar Stompbox is smart! It knows when you’re playing and when you aren’t and it reacts extremely fast, so fast that I can’t notice any artificial gating or loss of dynamics when using my high gain sounds.
ISP touts the Decimator as featuring “Time Vector Processing” which they claim enables the Decimator to be responsive to both staccato playing and long decaying notes. I’m not completely positive what “Time Vector Processing” is from a technical standpoint, but I am sure how it sounds, and I like it! Much as ISP claims, the pedal is very responsive and unobtrusive.
One added perk for me is that my short delay and reverb effects (located after the ISP Decimator Noise Gate Guitar Stompbox in my effects loop) are no longer being stepped on by amp hiss or pickup noise between phrases, and seem more lively and noticeable, without having to turn them up and muddy the guitar signal.
Unfortunately, as much as I’d love to say that everything with the Decimator is a bed of roses, I can’t. I have one main issue, and that is that, since I have the pedal in my effects loop to combat amp hiss, it is impossible to dial it in to be perfectly tuned to both my clean and distortion channels. This is not a problem with the Decimator’s design, I want to be clear about what- it is simply a fact of life when using two amp channels that operate at different preamp volumes.
As I have the ISP Decimator Noise Gate Guitar Stompbox set up right now, it is completely transparent on my gain sounds, even when using the guitar’s volume knob to clean up the signal, but on my clean channel, it tends to kick in on notes that are played softly.
ISP does make another pedal specifically to address this very issue:
the Decimator G-String, which features multiple in and out jacks that enable it to have its incoming signal sensor before the amp, while the reduction takes place in the effects loop.
Since the G-String’s level sensor is always working with your unamplified guitar signal, the level never experiences great changes and noise reduction is always perfectly responsive. The G-String is also substantially more expensive than the basic unit, but based on my experience with the “low end” (but still fantastic) Decimator, I have no doubt that the G-String is worth every penny.
In fact, I am already planning to sell my base unit and upgrade, since the G-String is better suited to my needs (honestly I should have just started there, but got a good deal on a used regular model).
The base ISP Decimator Noise Gate Guitar Stompbox is perfect for anyone who only uses a distorted sound and wants to quiet amp hiss, or needs to run a noise gate before the amp to help with feedback between passages, while the G-String is great for silencing a multiple channel rig without having to worry about lost dynamics on quieter channels. Both are fantastic products and a worthy addition to any player’s rig.