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TC Electronic C300

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Bennett Prescott:
I suspect most of you have seen and/or heard the sub-$200 silvery M300 effects processor from TC Electronic. To flesh out their affordable line they've recently introduced the C300, a dual compressor/gate with the same 1U form factor and set-and-forget multi-knobbed user interface. Naturally, I had to play with one, so I called up TC and asked if they had any to spare. A week later, lo and behold, I received a small package.

The basic concept looks like this:

(If you want to see a photo of the back, look here)

There's two channels of that, either of which can be a gate or a compressor. Choose a preset, set your threshold and ratio, and that's pretty much it. Like the M300, the unit purposefully takes some control out of the hands of the operator in favor of easy and rapid use.

Don't let the simplicity or the low price fool you, however. First of all, in most of the modes this is a multi-band compressor. You heard me right. Not only that, it's got the same flexible routing as the M300... it can operate in dual mono mode, or serial mode with the channels linked in stereo. This one unit can therefore be a pair of comps, a pair of gates, an awesome kick channel gate->comp, a subgroup dual comp, or any variation thereof. With only 1.56 msec of latency you're not even going to notice it's digital.

So enough about the unit, let's talk about my show. B rig went out with me on Saturday, and I did the whole how-much-can-I-pack-in-a-car trick. Turns out it's quite a lot, but there wasn't much room left over for additional processing or EQ racks. C300 to the rescue. I was pleasantly surprised to find the thing's shallower than a MixWiz, so I can rack it right up in my SKB popup case and even leave the cables in! Heck, if I didn't need that top rack space for my monitor EQ, I could rack up two and have all the comp/gate I need for that rig, ready to go at a moment's notice.

I was working for a cover band that I've mixed in the past on other people's rigs. Simple setup at a Jillian's in Albany, which venue was kind enough to clear us lots of space and provide 4 20a outlets. Here's what FOH looked like:

I split out the two vocal channels and compressed each one. Took me about 10 seconds to set up. Male vocal preset, threshold at -30dBFS, 3:1 ratio, 6dB of makeup, go! This was a little cushier than real combat audio (OK, I'm kidding, this was easy as hell) but I still appreciated the design of the unit. Very readable, even in the dark. The preset selection switch has a satisfying detent at each position. The meters are large and easy to read... I never had problems determining how much "squish" I was applying, or seeing if I was getting close to clip (which I never did).

The show went beautifully. It wasn't exactly a critical listening test, but the C300 made it easy to keep levels under control and even when I was taking 12dB off my vocalists it didn't sound strained. There was plenty of clarity and the signal still sounded dynamic, even though I knew it wasn't. I literally didn't touch either channel of the C300 after my 5 second adjustment at soundcheck. Easy, breezy, beautiful.

So I've just boxed up and sent off this unit to Evan Kirkendall, who's going to really beat it up and see what he thinks. At barely more than the price of a new 266XL, it's a bunch more processor and it sounds better too. I'm sorry I didn't try it as a kick channel strip, since I think the gate->comp package in one RU would really have blown me away. Fortunately, I wasn't exactly lacking in punch, so it was great on vocals.

I think this product is a real winner at many levels. For the weekend warrior who just needs a comp that sounds good, the price is certainly right. But for advanced users, it's got a lot of power under the hood and has the added advantage of digital I/O.

If you want to read more about what each preset does, that's available on page 14 of the manual, which is available here.

Bud Bolf:
Hi Bennett,
 Thanks for the Road Test, I missed it and thought that you got busy.
Eric pointed me to the right place, "Here".
Your review looks good.
As a Weekend Warrior, the C300 might do me some good.


Bennett Prescott:
Bud Bolf wrote on Wed, 09 August 2006 08:31
As a Weekend Warrior, the C300 might do me some good.

Don't tell anyone, but I'm buying two. That and a short 4-channel insert snake is all that stands between me and B-Rig Rock 'n Roll.

Adam Whetham:
Wow... This looks to be great for those last minute gigs that they don't tell you anything until you get there...

This should make Flying by the seat of your pants alot more enjoyable!

Evan Kirkendall:
Bennett sent the C300 down to me a few weeks ago. Sadly, Ive only had it out to 1 gig and it was a pretty crappy venue. However, I did use it on kick and was quite happy with the results. I ran it in parellel mode with the gate first then the comp. I was pretty impressed with that this thing could do. It does a much better job then the 266xl. I like the gate a lot more, however the gate does have some click to it on it's fastest setting. It was only noticeable in the phones though. The comp section was pretty smooth and kept the channel out of clipping.

But, on a noisy stage with the bass amp 2' from the kick mic it did a great job. I cant wait to get it out to more gigs. I really want to see what this thing can do.

Ill post some pics of the unit soon as well.



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