1. Welcome to TalkBass, the Premier Bass Player Community and Information Source. We've been uniting the Low End Since 1998!

    We're glad you've found us. Register a 100% Free Account to post and unlock tons of features.

Compression

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by backin82, Dec 27, 2013.


  1. backin82

    backin82 Jack of a Few Trades Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2009
    Location:
    Oklahoma City, OK
    I'd like some explanation on compression. I use a compressor when playing electric guitar, because I can tell a big difference in sound when using it. It works especially well for clean tones and I even use it like a boost pedal sometimes.

    I haven't quite figured out what it does when playing bass.

    I have a comment/question for those who know: What does compression sound like and why do you use it? I've used the on-board compressor on my HA3500 and tried the compressors on my Line 6 M13. I enjoy the attack that's achieved by using it, but don't like that it limits my dynamics (the on-board compressor on the 3500 seems pretty manageable). Most of my tone control comes from my fingers, and I play aggressive or laid back depending on the song. I don't understand why people strive for equal volume between notes unless they're always playing loud or always playing soft.

    [to be fair, I also don't understand why you would ever want an automatic transmission, but whatever...]

    Is there a way to achieve the really nice attack (even a "pop") while maintaining the ability for dynamics, or is that just the trade-off with using compression as an effect?

    Thanks for the help!
     
  2. G-MonRV5

    G-MonRV5 Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2008
    Location:
    Indiana
    Yes, it's absolutely a trade-off. That's why a lot of people struggle with using it properly.
     
  3. Marial

    Marial Three Weeks of Freedom Start Right NOW Gold Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2011
    Location:
    Emerald City
  4. backin82

    backin82 Jack of a Few Trades Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2009
    Location:
    Oklahoma City, OK
    Ok, that's a starting point. I didn't really put two and two together until trying to use it like an effect with my M13. I loved the attack, but hated that it limited my overall dynamic range.

    I suppose if you really enjoy the sound and just wanted to play loud, you could compress the heck out of your signal and boost the volume, but that just seems insane. Maybe a good bass drive pedal or other such effect could get me some interesting tones and articulations without sacrificing so much dynamic range.
     
  5. Register to disable this ad
  6. backin82

    backin82 Jack of a Few Trades Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2009
    Location:
    Oklahoma City, OK
    Dang. That's like a month's reading right there!
     
  7. TigerInATrance

    TigerInATrance

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2011
    Location:
    NW New Jersey
    Compression, by definition, takes away your dynamics. It squashes the signal above whatever threshold is set by a predetermined (by you or whoever designed the effect) amount. Some compressors allow you to move the onset of the effect so that the attack is not squashed, but I've never heard of one that lets you do the opposite...
     
  8. BassMonstrum

    BassMonstrum

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2008
  9. bkbirge

    bkbirge

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2000
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    Disclosures:
    Endorsing Artist: Steak n Shake
    Look up "expander". It's a device designed to increase dynamic range with varying results on the satisfaction scale. A noise gate is an extreme version.
     
  10. backin82

    backin82 Jack of a Few Trades Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2009
    Location:
    Oklahoma City, OK
  11. Marial

    Marial Three Weeks of Freedom Start Right NOW Gold Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2011
    Location:
    Emerald City
    Yep, but if that doesn't help you out with regards to using compression I'm not sure what will. ;) It's been a gawdsend for me.
     
  12. BassMonstrum

    BassMonstrum

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2008
    Yeah, I saw it... I was too slow :oops:
     
  13. backin82

    backin82 Jack of a Few Trades Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2009
    Location:
    Oklahoma City, OK
    No problem. Just being "that guy" :smug:
     
  14. ArtechnikA

    ArtechnikA I endorsed a check once... Gold Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2013
    Location:
    SEPA
    Commute I-405 between the San Fernando Valley and El Segundo for a while and see if that doesn't change your perspective... An hour of stop-n-go 1-2-1-2-1-2-1-2-1-2-1 each direction, twice a day...

    Compression, especially when used more as a limiter than an 'effect' can be a good thing when using multiple styles in a single piece. You can pick a comfortable level and then fingerstyle, pick, slap, and/or pop without straying from that level.

    Strive for evenness of tone in practice, lest compression become a crutch. But I think they can be helpful live because it can keep the playing seem more polished.
     
  15. BassMonstrum

    BassMonstrum

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2008
    Seriously though, that site helped me a lot with understanding compression. I also made two purchases based on those reviews (and some youtube-searches). Ovnilab.com is worth reading.

    My first pedal comp was the EBS Multicomp and I find it good for getting that "punch" without limiting your dynamics that much, mainly due to it's fixed "attack" and "release" speed. I bought my second pedalcomp, the MXR Bass Comp, since it has adjustable controls for "attack" and "release" for more versatility and for the high ratio which means I can use it as a limiter.
     
  16. Bassmike62

    Bassmike62

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2009
    Location:
    Somewhere Northwest of Montreal, CAN
    Hopefully my question is staying inside this thread's "mission". I've always been under the impression that limiting (as in the LMB-3) is less of a dynamics killer, at least on the setting I use it (level at unity, enhance 9 o'clock, ratio 12h30 and threshold 9).

    Is it correct to assume this ?
     
  17. BFunk

    BFunk Gold Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2001
    Location:
    Rhode Island , USA
    If you want more attack, you should lengthen the attack time.

     
  18. Swift713

    Swift713

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2006
    Location:
    The Berkshires, Ma
    Compression doesn't take away your dynamics completely unless you squash the sh@t out of your signal. What it can do is focus or concentrate the energy/impact of your signal. I like a low ratio and a fast attack with the threshold set so that I can play softly under it but my normal volume will cross it. I get plenty of dynamics.
     
  19. DavidEdenAria

    DavidEdenAria

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2013
    Also compressors vary WIDELY in quality and features.

    A little can go a long way.

    Also, for those who don't know, compression is OVERUSED in modern music MASTERING and has been for a long time...too much destroys what a musical instrument was designed to do in the first place.

    A bit of the right compression applied to bass, can work wonders in many instances.

    I think every bassist should have at least one decent compressor, you don't have to spend a lot either imo!
     
  20. backin82

    backin82 Jack of a Few Trades Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2009
    Location:
    Oklahoma City, OK
    Which ones would you recommend?

    Also, amen on the compression rant in modern music. You can especially hear it on most lead vocalists these days. Once you realize what it is, it can drive you nuts.
     
  21. BFunk

    BFunk Gold Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2001
    Location:
    Rhode Island , USA

Share This Page