Expect a Compressor/Sustainer pedal at a generous quality to price ratio, but with limited features (by design). A simple solution to compression for bass players.
By most metrics I'm not really qualified to write a review on a compressor. I'm not an audio engineer, I've never had a compressor in my signal chain live before, and I really have just been learning to deploy compression as I go; however, when you consider that this pedal is designed and priced ideally for a bassists first foray into live compressors, perhaps it is fitting to read the thoughts of someone in that market (or n00b, if you will).
I took the suggestion to look into compressors from another bassist we opened for. As anyone who plays finger-style in an aggressive genre can tell you, the promise of a more even percussive attack is appealing. My core "always active" tone comes from a MIM Fender Jazz w/ passives, through a Sansamp Programmable Bass Driver, into an SVT-CL + 115 rig.
In the weeks following I did my research like a good little TB'er. I sought out different compressors at different prices available locally, which ended up being the EHX, Boss BC-1X, Diamond BCP1, and the Empress. I've also been recommended the TC Spectra Comp, but I wanted (what I perceived as a simpler) physical knobs for tweaking and I couldn't get my hands on one locally.
What I immediately learned about the different compression features is that I had no idea what to do with them.
The compressors above were mostly very well reviewed, but without the prior knowledge and experience with compression I had no idea to to work the controls, and even less idea of how it would all fit in a live mix. I ended up choosing the EHX because it was the only one I was able to really "dial in" intuitively, and at the price I didn't think I was risking much if I didn't like it.
I place my preacher at the start of my signal chain and leave it always on. My volume and sustain typically stay somewhere around 1:00, and my attack is set to fast. The first thing I noticed was that my attack had evened out and it's become easier for me to get a percussive tone in a band setting, without throwing off the levels. It plays very well with my Sansamp which I use to add a bit of grit (using treble and drive).
As it stands now, I have had the Preacher for 6 months. Though it lives on a board and is always on, I'm confident the rugged housing could take a beating. Furthermore, I haven't felt the need to try anything else. The simple controls work for my basic understanding.
At this point, the only thing else I could ask out of EHX is perhaps a "mini" model. Personally this is the kind of pedal that I would squeeze in an inaccessible spot on my board to make room for something more fun.
It would also be neat to see what EHX would do with a feature rich model, but there's so many great "high end" options that might prove to be stiff competition.
The Bass Preacher just works for me. There was no learning curve, no buyers remorse, and no fear that it'll bankrupt me if I fry it.
Overall, I think EHX have deigned a pedal that will make compression useful and accessible for bass players all over the world. Highly recommended.
Electro-Harmonix Bass Preacher
EHX's bass optimized take on their Soul Preacher.