When you mention guitar effects pedals, the first thing that comes to most people’s minds is some sort of distortion, overdrive or something similar. Something that is clearly heard if used, and makes a large impact on the tone of the guitar. With that said, there is a whole line of pedals which are designed not to be heard at all. When they are used as intended, you won’t even hear them being there. Nothing short of going onto the stage and looking at the pedalboard itself will tell some of these pedals are used.
One type of effect that pretty much defines this odd category of pedals are noise suppressors. When you reach the level of skill and taste where every single bit of your tone’s character matters, noise suppressors become a must have item. Their only job is to delete certain sounds from your tone, thus increasing the clarity and quality of said tone. One that has proven to be great, at least good enough for Yngwie Malmsteen, is Boss NS-2 Noise Suppressor. Today we are going to introduce you to this awesome little tool, and show you what it has to offer.
Boss NS-2 Noise Suppressor Review
Have you ever noticed that as soon as you stop playing, your guitar goes haywire? All of that feedback is suddenly amplified and you have to constantly keep your hand over the pickups. Even so, the buzzing sound from your amp is just piercing the mix. Some genres of music are more tolerant of this noise, but some definitely aren’t. When finesse matters and every detail of your performance requires utmost sonic clarity, having your pickups buzzing is the last thing you need.
Noise suppressors eliminate this effect and do so much more. Depending on the type and complexity of the pedal, you can achieve all kinds of results in terms of noise reduction. Boss NS-2 belongs to the more basic category, but even so, its performance is on the level that you would want to have at your disposal.
One of the best things about Boss pedals is the fact that they all share the same, recognizable enclosure. It is almost like opening a Christmas gift – you never know what is inside by just looking at the box. Another benefit of this approach is the fact that we already know just what kind of abuse this pedal can take before it even hits the shelves. Boss stompboxes have been in use for so long that their reliability is no longer put into question.
The design of this particular model is a bit different from the rest. Boss NS-2 comes with three knobs and that classic stomp switch. Instead of offering just an input and an output, you get a bit more. Due to its nature, Boss has found it necessary to include an effects loop of sorts that would allow you to limit the noise suppression effect to whatever selection of pedals you want. This is mostly because certain pedals such as delays and other temporal effects, don’t usually play nice with noise suppressors.
With your noisiest pedals in the loop, these being distortions and similar, you will want to link the remainder of your gear after the NS-2. Whatever is in the loop will be affected by the available controls. You have a threshold knob, which defines when noise suppression kicks in. Next is the decay knob. This control determines how long it takes for noise suppression to fade out and allow the unwanted noise to creep back into the signal. Last but not least, we have the mode select knob. There are two options available here – reduction and mute. The reduction is the default mode where noise suppressor is allowed to work. Mute is basically the bypass feature that kills the noise suppressor and everything that is in its integrated loop.
One interesting thing about the NS-2 is the fact that it can power other pedals in your chain. Since it requires little to no power to work, you can siphon some of that power and supply it to other pedals in your chain. While this is not really an important feature, it is a cool one nonetheless.
The performance of noise gates or noise suppressor pedals is measured by their accuracy and consistency. Being a relatively basic and affordable model, Boss NS-2 offers a pretty decent balance of these two attributes. Is it the best noise suppressor on the market? Nope, not really. However, it is one of the easiest to use. Once you plug everything in, you will have to find the right threshold. This value is going to depend on the guitar you are using since the pedal relies on the input signal for activation, and the selection of pedals in the integrated loop.
Overall, it is not that hard ti dial in a comfortable threshold level that is easily activated and still suppresses all the unwanted noise from your signal chain. One of the biggest issues with noise gates is their tendency to suck out the tone from the pedals they are suppressing. Boss NS-2 is pretty decent in this regard, limiting the unwanted effects to the bare minimum. Seeing how Yngwie Malmsteen prefers the NS-2 over much better alternatives out there, this pedal definitely has a lot of potential to offer.
Here’s a video review of the Boss NS-2 Noise Suppressor Pedal by SweetwaterSound that will give you an up close and personal look at the pedal and its abilities.
Noise gate or noise suppression pedals are among the last pieces of equipment guitarists tend to acquire. Their use becomes necessary only when you have mastered the art of tone shaping to a point where even the smallest details matter. With that said, figuring how to use one with your setup early on can make things much easier for you down the road. When you include it in your signal chain and find the setting that works for you, chances are you will wonder how you ever managed to play without one. Friendly to beginners and great for professionals, Boss NS-2 is definitely a noise gate worth your time.