This is very simple dynamic processor from Alesis company. It has only three controls -input(also a compression amount control),release,and In , Alesis Studio Electronics, and associates put on the market a range of effects and processors numriques, called MICRO SERIES. The Alesis MICRO LIMITER is a true stereo in/stereo out compressor/limiter which is used for automatic gain riding, peak limiting, and special effects on both live.

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Are they the Accessit range of the Eighties? However, the subject of this review is the recent additions to their range of studio quality effects units, the aptly named ‘Micro’ series. The first product pimiter the Micro series was the bit Microverb which, like its larger forebears, produces real studio quality digital reverb at a truly affordable price. The latest additions to the series are three effects boxes: Each of these comes in a sturdy, 1U high by mm x mm metal box with stereo inputs and outputs on the rear.

Furthermore, each box comes with its own 9 volt power supply and an excellent manual.

The units all have the same basic appearance, three rotary potentiometers and an effects bypass switch. This similarity can be a little confusing if you’re trying to read the front panel settings from the other side of the studio. Also, since each box is powered from its own external transformer, if you’re using all three devices as I was for the purpose of this review, then you’ve got to have another three mains sockets to plug them into, which is quite tiresome if your studio already has a serious wiring problem.

Hopefully, Alesis will do the right thing and provide a single adaptor with a number of outputs to power multiple units. The first box to come under scrutiny was the noise gate. A ‘noise gate’ is basically a means of electronically ‘masking out’ the general background noise that tends to be generated by all types of electronic equipment.

Alesis Micro Limiter –

Every musician eventually learns about the problems caused by noisy leads and devices such as chorus pedals, etc. If you’re like me and have a neighbour whose idea of a quiet Sunday afternoon is to spend two hours sanding the front door with the Black and Decker he got for Christmas, then a noise gate is essential if you’re to cover up all of the minor annoyances such as ‘spikes’ on the mains supply that tend to make your recordings sound like an advert for a well-known breakfast cereal.

The ‘noise gate’ is a simple technique that mutes the output stage of the audio path when the signal drops below a predetermined level so, although the ‘snaps’, ‘crackles’ and ‘pops’ are still there, the noise gate mutes them during the quiet passages of your music and, consequently, they are not as obvious. If this sounds like a rather savage technique to apply to an acoustic chain that you’ve probably spent hours attempting to perfect, then you’re perfectly right.

To evaluate the Alesis Micro Gate properly, in terms of how effective it is in a real situation, I compared it with a very similar device – the Boss RCL The Alesis gate proved very simple to become acquainted with. The Threshold pot sets the transition point of the gate from open to closed; the Delay control allows you to set the time taken for the gate to close after the signal has fallen below the threshold level; and the Rate control sets the rate of closure of the gate.


This method of controlling the noise gate worked very well. The state of the gate is determined from three LEDs on the front panel: To compare the Alesis gate with the Boss equivalent, I used an old string synthesizer which I custom built in my University days. As with all early attempts at polyphony, my string synthesizer was based on simple electronic organ technology and involved an enormous number of connections in a wiring ‘loom’.

This machine was the ideal test-bed for the noise gate. Beehiving is always present, it’s just that it tends to stand out more when the instrument is supposed to be silent, ie.

Both the Boss and Alesis devices proved to be extremely useful in this application and the string synth was, in fact, almost usable again. However, where the Alesis unit really shone was in the fact that it is a stereo unit and this meant that I could treat both left and right outputs of the instrument from the same box and maintain channel separation.

Sadly, the Boss limiger is strictly monaural. However, I still could not give the Alesis unit top marks because of the effect bypass switch on the front panel, which generates a considerable ‘thump’ when the switch is used. I would have thought that silent, electronic switching would be essential on an effects unit which purports to be ‘studio quality’. By comparison, the Boss gate was completely silent when switching. This device, like the llmiter gate, is essential in any studio.

The ‘limiter’ effectively puts a lid on the level of a signal. Even when the input signal is below that limit, it can be compressed so that for every four decibel rise in the input signal the output will only rise by, say, two decibels. kicro

This is a compression ratio of 2: The effect is most useful in, say, the recording of vocals when the vocalist isn’t perhaps aware of how loud he or she may be. Operation of the Micro Limiter proved to be a little disorientating at first, since its control pots don’t immediately function in the manner I expected. The manual states that this is because the limiter was designed to be “more musically useful”, which is a little difficult to comprehend.

The control functions are as follows: The LEDs on the front panel indicate this wonderfully. The Output control is provided so that you can easily match levels after the limiting process.

Mac DeMarco’s Alesis Micro Limiter | Equipboard®

I liked the stereo option a lot, it simplified the treatments a great deal. However, the problem of silent switching reared its ugly head yet again. Possibly Alesis think that it is more ‘musically useful’ to have the device permanently connected and to only use the bypass switch for setting-up purposes?

Strange omission in a studio quality product. I reserved my judgement of the third addition to the Alesis Micro range micrl last. The Micro Enhancer proved to be a very, very curious device. To briefly explain, the process involved in psychoacoustic enhancement not something used by Alfred Hitchcock to ‘pep up’ Anthony Perkins prior to the famous ‘shower scene’ is a very subtle technique described as a mixture of high alewis boosting, compression and harmonic generation designed to resynthesize the upper harmonics of sounds which are otherwise lost in the recording process.

I tested the Micro Enhancer on a number of sources: I asked several other people for their alesie of the effect and we all agreed on one thing – there was very little perceptible difference between the input direct and output treated signals. Certainly, there was a change; not a great change but a very subtle one. Alezis not a change that we could all agree on. There was an improvement in the degree of bass resolution and a general improvement in high frequency definition.


But nothing really tangible limitdr you could say ‘Yes, there’s definitely a psychoacoustic enhancer in there. Is my hearing at all impaired?

Is the amplifier suspect? Are the speakers up to the job? Well, I don’t believe that my hearing is at all impaired, other than the natural wear-and-tear one might expect for a 26 year-old pair of lug ‘oles. My amplifier is getting on a bit kicro certainly seems more than capable of the job and so do the speakers. Even when monitored through a pair of Beyer Dynamic D headphones, there was very little in the way of difference between the input signal and the output signal.

What can I say?

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This should not cast the RCL in an unfavourable light. Both units proved to be extremely easy to use and their effect on the recording process more than justified the small sum spent on either unit. Alesix just that, to my ears, the Alesis units sounded cleaner and were stereo rather than mono. Also, the Alesis effects boxes are definitely of a sturdier construction than the RCL I do have some reservations, aleis. If you intend rack-mounting these devices all three slot neatly together, side-by-side, to facilitate this then you should consider using a patchbay of some sort so that you can simplify the connection process.

Personally, the separate mains adaptor is a minor annoyance. At a time when I’m attempting to cut down on the number of leads that invariably get too muddled to sort out properly, having three extra leads dangling in the way is no alseis. Finally, I can’t understand why the bypass switching on these units is not silent.

This is very sad on microo of this quality. I hope Alesis rectify the problem before the devices get into bulk production. To finish then, I would recommend both the Micro Gate and Micro Limiter to anyone with serious aspirations but with limited cash. They really are good quality and excellent value. However, if money is a problem, I would find it very hard to recommend the Micro Enhancer. It just doesn’t do enough to justify the expense. If you want another Alesis unit to fill the third location in your 19″ rack, buy a Alesiw instead.

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