The Fermata optical compressor is a product that has spent a very long time in development at XTS. From dreaming up our ideal compressor features, designing the circuits to implement them, sourcing parts for production and going back to square one on more than one occasion, we have worked very hard to provide a compressor that offers a ton of control without being difficult to dial in.
The Fermata holds true to many classic optical compressor characteristics. The optical element of the Fermata gives a soft-knee squish that sounds natural even under high SUSTAIN settings. Unlike some VCA based designs, the Fermata can limit dynamic range without necessarily destroying the dynamic content of your signal. Even with very aggressive and pumping settings, this compressor breathes like the great studio optical-based designs of the past.
While the Fermata does not have a mix control per se, it does have a four ways of controlling the compression characteristic to whatever level of subtly needed. The SUSTAIN control adjusts the threshold of compression. Higher settings lead to more compression and longer sustain. The RATIO switch allows you to select ratios from gentle compression to very aggressive limiting. The ATTACK control adjusts the compressor's attack time to nearly instantaneous action to slow attack times that allow you to keep an unattenuated initial transient and focus compression on your signal's tails.
The CONTOUR control has been sitting on the XTS whiteboard for nearly 7 years. This control desensitizes the compressor to low end frequencies. Many times, when compressors are compressing nicely in the guitar's upper registers, the first position low strings are overly compressed and practically folding in on themselves. The Fermata's CONTOUR control allows you to reduce this phenomenon and lets you play open and snappy riffs down low and slide up to a slinky, compressed feel for lead licks and fills.
The Fermata's TONE control allows you to add back some of the sheen the compression process can sometimes seem to roll off and gives the Fermata the ability to offer compressed and crisp studio tones even in front of amps that aren't set extraordinarily bright.
For as much as the Fermata offers in terms of compression, it may be the ways in which it can be made to NOT compress that set it apart from other devices in the market. Even those players who have struggled to find a compressor that works for them will be able to easily dial in natural sounding compression that enhances your guitar playing without overpowering it.