JHS Pulp n Peel V4 – Review of Compressor Preamp Pedal

JHS Pedals company is located in the USA and all of its pedal units are manufactured in three places - Kansas City, Southern California, and Michigan. Started in 2007 by Josh Scott, it is recognized all around the world for its quality effect pedals. Pulp n Peel V4 compressor pedal is labelled as a true and transparent compressor by JHS. Some even call it a compression pedal for players who do not like compression.

Originally, the compression pedals were created to suppress the undesired volume peaks, which could otherwise make the needle fall off the records. Modern guitar players use the compressor pedals to create unique tones and alter the dynamic range during a solo or live band performance. They can also help add sustain, which makes the played note last longer.

By altering the dynamic range, we mean that, compressor will bring down the volume when you play your guitar very loud, thereby reducing the difference between the peak and average value of the signal. Compressors basically flatten out the loudness and softness of the guitar volume making the sound very even. This often leads to a common misconception that this effect deprives the sound of its dynamics and texture.

Compressor pedals have two main controls, threshold and ratio. They work by comparing the volume of guitar signal to the set threshold volume. If the input is more than the threshold value, the excess value is reduced by the set ratio. Consider an example, where X dB is the threshold value, X + 5 dB is the input signal value, 5:1 is the set ratio. As the input signal surpasses the threshold by 5 dB, this excess signal is reduced to 1 dB and output from the unit is X + 1 dB.

Things to Consider before buying a Compressor Pedal

Some of the factors you need to consider include parameters to be controlled, type of compression used, do you want to use the pedal with other effect units, size of the unit and True Bypass Vs Buffered Output. We will briefly discuss these in this section

  • Parameter Controls: You need to know what parameters you really want to control. More control is not necessarily better. These may include baseline volume / level, sustain / sensitivity, attack and release. With lower setting on baseline volume parameter (threshold), overall volume is lower. Sustain parameter defines the degree of compression (ratio). Attack defines how fast the unit starts to compress the signal, once threshold level is crossed. Similarly, the release parameter governs the time in which compression stops when signal goes below the threshold level again.
  • Type of compression:  The main types of compressors are Optical, VCA, Valve (Vacuum Tube), FET (Field Effect Transistors) and Multi-band compressors. Optical units have smooth and organic attack and release while VCA has less natural tone. Valve based units provide warm tones. FET units in addition to having warm tones also are more reliable and organic, but less transparent and expensive. Multi-band compressors compress only a certain frequency range and thus can have dramatic effect on the tone.
  • Use with other effects:  It is important to correctly place the compression unit in the pedal chain to have the best result. At the end of the signal chain, it alters the volume of signal after passing through all the units, but also makes the noise from other units audible. When put in the beginning of the chain, the noise is less. But the signals from effect units after it dont go  through the compression. Most players want this configuration as it  provides a clean tone for overdrive, phaser and delay pedals.
  • Size of the unit: There is always a trade-off between size and parameters to be controlled. Once you have decided on the parameter you want on your unit, size may be important if you have limited space on your pedal board.
  • True bypass Vs Buffered Output: In true bypass, pedal does not affect the signal once the unit is turned off. Units that are not true bypass may be hardware bypass, where signals pass through the hardware electronic circuitry. Systems using more than 20 feet of cables, suffer in high end frequency response. Buffered output units compensate this loss by boosting the signals before they go to the amps. This improves volume and clarity.

Make

Model

Details

JHS

Pump n Peel V4

JHS Pump n Peel V4

PRO's & CON's of JHS Pulp n Peel V4

In this JHS Pulp n Peel review, we shall be taking a deeper look into features, benefits and customer reviews of the Compressor Unit.  But before that let us consider the Pro's & Con's of JHS compressor.

Pros

  • Pulp n peel works great with both guitar / bass and various other instruments.
  • It produces a balanced and natural sound and uses C soft technology to cut any extra treble. It can be used with rock, blues, jazz and many other music styles.
  • It can be used both as a true or buffered bypass.
  • It has a builtin compressor preamp to boost the power. it can even act as a preamp pedal.

Cons

  • JHS pulp n peel cannot be powered by a battery.
  • Some players may find it to be a bit on the expensive side.

Features and Benefits

JHS pulp n peel V4 compressor unit is a relatively new addition to the compression pedals repertoire of the company. It is an advancement over JHS Pulp n Peel V3  with additions like an EQ knob, dirt toggle switch, an XLR output and improvements in features like detection, headroom, built in parallel overdrive circuit etc.

Features

We will discuss some important features of the JHS unit here:

  1. 1
    Truly transparent: The unit is true and transparent, which implies that it does not impact the frequency shifting effects but only affects the volume.
  2. 2
    Headroom: This unit features more headroom. Headroom quantifies how much clean power, without any distortion, can be delivered by an amp in a small interval, above its regular steady  output. So more headroom allows the clean tone to stay clean and at the same time  when the volume is higher, it will push the amplifier harder into overdrive.
  3. 3
    Blend Control: The unit has a parallel compression circuit. This feature allows you to mix the compressed and uncompressed signals in your desired proportions to get ideal balance.
  4. 4
    Active EQ Control: This control allows you to add extra bass or treble, as per your requirements.
  5. 5
    Detection: Pulp n Peel V4 has vastly improved detection system that allows you to maintain the instrument's natural attack, provide low noise floor, to have smoother tones and added sustain.
  6. 6
    Dirt Control: The unit has an overdrive circuit, that injects the desired amount of dirt / overdrive into the signal path.  The amount of diet is controlled by a trimpot. The dirt control is impacted by blend control  also by a substantial amount.
  7. 7
    The pulp n peel unit has fairly standard 1/4" input and output jacks. In addition to these, it has an XLR output jack for DI purposes, providing balanced output, so that you can directly connect your JHS pulp n peel V4 compressor pedal to a mixer or studio interface. This output converts pulp n peel unit to  an active DI channel strip  for bass and other acoustic instruments. Additionally a ground lift is provided to take care of the case where the DI signal creates a hum.
  8. 8
    This is an analog unit that works on 9V DC Power supply with 32 mA current. One negative feature of the unit is that it does not have a provision to work with a battery and power supply adapter is not included.

Controls

JHS pulp n peel V4 compressor preamp pedal has all the essential controls to compress the tone and improve its qualities. These controls are established through 4 knobs, 1 dirt switch, one foot switch and a dirt pot. Let us look at them in some detail.

  1. 1
    Volume knob: This is the standard master volume control that governs the baseline output volume of the unit, basically  the threshold.
  2. 2
    Compressor Knob: This controls the amount of compression applied to  your sound. This adds more compression / sustain when you rotate the knob clockwise.
  3. 3
    Blend Control Knob: This controls the blend between the compressed (wet) and the uncompressed (dry) signals. Compression increases as you rotate the knob clockwise while the ratio of uncompressed signal increases in counterclockwise rotation of the knob. The attack is governed by this control.
  4. 4
    EQ Knob: When the knob is in center (12.00 hrs clock) position, the control is bypassed. Moving the knob counterclockwise, adds the low end and decreases the high end, while clockwise rotation adds high end and reduces low end frequency signals.
  5. 5
    Dirt Toggle Switch & Dirt Trim pot: Added by JHS in the V4 compressor pedal, this control activates the overdrive circuit. This works in conjunction with the trim pot located on the side of the V4 compressor preamp. The trim pot allows the players to decide the amount gain they want. Thus Pulp n Peel V4 compressor preamp also acts as a low gain overdrive unit. This feature is particularly helpful for bass players.
  6. 6
    Buffer On / Off Switch: This switch allows users to go from True bypass in off position to Buffered Output in On position and vice-versa.

Sound

As is common with any of the compressor pedals, if you are using pulp n peel for the first time, you may feel that it does not make any difference to the sound. You need to switch off the pedal to note how much it was actually improving your sound.

The below video demonstrates the performance of JHS pulp n peel V4 with different settings of the volume, compression, blend and EQ controls. The demo also shows the effect of the dirt switch, which adds a parallel layer of overdrive and harmonic overtones over the compressed signal.

JHS Pulp n peel V4 compressor preamp produces smooth and sweet sound. When the EQ is in bypassed condition, It improves your tone without impacting its dynamics. The pedal works perfectly with all types of acoustic, electric and bass guitars.

Social Proof of the Pedal

It is very important to read the views of new as well as experienced players, who have purchased and used the instrument in consideration. In this section, we present some of the reviews that we have collected from the web, with our comments on them to guide you.

JHS Pulp n Peel Review 01

The reviewer expresses his appreciation of the performance and features of the JHS Pulp n Peel unit, particularly the buffer and the dirt mode. Ability to switch the buffer on and off with ease through the side switch is very helpful. He places pulp n peel V4 as the first pedal in the chain, and likes the sweet tone.

JHS Pulp n Peel Review 02

As stated earlier Compressor pedal is one of the most underestimated and not commonly understood pedals. Same is the case with this reviewer, who states that he is not clear what it is doing but invariably uses it with his guitar, bass and baritone.

JHS Pulp n Peel Review 03

This reviewer had some dead spots in the knob of his unit and returned it, but wants to reorder and have a Pulp n Peel V4 compressor unit again.

In Conclusion

Pulp n Peel V4 compressor is among the very best compressor pedals available in the market. You may find it a bit expensive in comparison to its competition, but its features, build quality, parallel overdrive, low profile gain control and sound output justifies its price and makes it an ideal device to invest in. Unless you are severely constrained by the budget, check out this pedal!

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