Got my hands on an MXR M87. Now what?
I've seen these guys get lots o love here and had an opportunity to get one cheap. Now I'm not sure what to do with it. Does it go in front of the chain? The end? Somewhere in the middle?
On top of that, and I hate to admit this, I'm not totally clear on the purpose of compression. I'm an effects noob.
Anyone care to hit me in the head with some of their compression knowledge?
In fairness, he said he got it cheap. Now, how cheap, if you don't know what it does, is another question...
Check out bongomania's FAQ on compressors: http://www.ovnilab.com/reviews/mxrbass.shtml
Compression has two main uses: evening out volume spikes (preventing transients) or getting a really squashed sound. Volume spike flattening is more like limiting (high ratio, high threshold, fast attack, fast release) whereas squashing your whole sound is low-mid ratio, low threshold, med attack, slow release). You can fatten up your sound a whole lot with that pedal, but it's better (IMO) at the subtler effect. It's very transparent. Where you put it in the chain is up to you, compression changes the sound of overdrives and will also change the response pattern of envelope filters.
VERY Generally: Filter > Comp > Overdrive/Fuzz >Chorus/Delay/Verb etc
That flattens the big peaks that filters can make but doesn't destroy the necessary volume changes for OD/distortion.
When I used mine live it was always on. I don't need it much these days except for recording, which it is actually great for- bass needs to be super compressed when recorded (you can also do that later on during mixing).
Basically, read the manual then play with the settings and find what your ears like. You'll have to play around a bit to hear the differences, but if you understand what each knob is doing (the LEDs help honestly) it will be much easier.
I put mine at the end of the chain. I don't want a compressed signal going into any of my expression, OD, or Fuzz pedals because it kills the dynamics.
This is just what I do and what I like. There is no 'right' way.
I generally put mine in the middle of my chain. After dirt and/or envelope filters but before modulation.
Seems to give me the best results as sometimes modulation pedals don't react well to getting slammed with volume spikes and the compressor can't fix that downstream.
And at the same time I wouldn't want it further upstream because as mmbongo points out it can dull the dynamics of OD/distortion/fuzz and of course it makes it harder to trigger a filter the way I want.
Mine sits at the end of the pedal board, although at present I only run dirt.
If I recall correctly, these are my settings:
Attack - 9:00
Release - 2:00
Ratio - 8:1
Input - 11:00
Output - 2:00
Feel free to try that out and see what happens.
I ran mine at the start of my chain when I used one just for a subtle compression to remove any spikes. I changed to a 3Leaf PWNZOR to get more natural compression to actually bring out the dynamics while removing a little bit of those spikes, from what has been said I think I am going to try playing with my compressor at the end of my chain or at least after my dirt pedals this weekend. Just go by ear but definitely playing around with settings in a clean form first until it sounds musically appealing to you.
Thanks guys. I haven't inserted into the effect chan just yet. Not even sure physically where it'll go.
From playing around with it so far, I like how it smoothes out the attack from pick playing and aggressive finger style. It's a pretty subtle effect to my ears so far. If it turns out I don't like it, or more likely, I don't feel I need it, I can easily get out of it what I paid for it.
Can't wait to play it in a band setting.
What pedals are on your board?
Let's see...in order they go; Radial Bassbone, Dunlop Wah, Boss blues driver, Tech 21 vt bass, Tech 21 chorus, Digitec envelope filter.
I have put my MXR 87 at the beginning of the chain. If I'm going completely clean it just seems to make sense to me to put it first, based on absolutely nothing. I put it before my dirt pedals because I don't like what it does to them. Plus I use my B3K as a gain/volume boost which would complicate things with the MXR 87. OD and Fuzz tends to compress the signal a little anyway and compression sounds like it "ruins" modulation effects like chorus or flange.
I don't really know if there is a "right" way, there is just the right way for you.
I'm thinking along those lines too. Compress it first, then effect the compressed signal to your liking.
However, I could be wrong.
Bear in mind that some effects, like envelope filters and dirt react better with a bigger dynamic range, so putting them after compression might not be wise. If I were you I'd put the wah and env filter first in your chain, then dirt, compression and the rest after. Not sure about the bassbone and VT Bass, depends on how you're using them.
I think I have my pedals in an order I like. Bassbone (switches from standard tone to a big scoop)-wah pedal-digitech envelope filter-tech 21 chorus-tech 21 VT bass-blues driver-compressor.
However, now that I have the tone and effects I like, I find that the compressor rarely kicks in no matter how I tweak the input or attack levels.
Where you place a compressor in the chain depends entirely on what you expect from it, and every other pedal with it. Mine is up front, right after the tuner, and there are filters, dirt, octave, and modulation all following it. It works exactly as I want it to, but may not for someone else.
I place my comp after my filter (Source Audio) to even out the spikes, but before Xotic Bass BB, DMB Bumble fuzz and Mr. Black DoubleChorus. I use compression very subtley more to even out weak spots on my bass than anything else, so I don't find it inhibits the performance of my dirt pedals.
I've found that with screwing around with this thing for the past few weeks I haven't got a lot of options on where to put it to get the tone and effects I desire. I'm really liking the way this thing evens out the spikes.
I put it before my chorus, VT bass and OD pedal because it greatly diminishes their effects otherwise. The synth wah and wah pedal can be placed anywhere and sound good.
As you can tell from all the comments, it's really about "your ears" and what you like when you hear it. There are some great suggestions and opinopns here, and some base guidelines to go by, but at the end of the day, kinda up to you dude.
For me, I would put the comp after filters, wahs and dirt...
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