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compression questions from a dinosaur

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Mike in Chicago, Dec 15, 2012.

  1. Mike in Chicago

    Mike in Chicago Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2011
    the ampeg comp on the PF500s...anyone use this? I've always been a plug and play, even now just getting used to a gain dial. the manual says it evens out your signal. does compression effect your tone to you guys ears?

    What settings are you guys using for the comp? mine has always been on 0. gain at 2 o'clock the rest around middle w master? I've never had to go past 12 o'clock.

    W the Class D adjustments we've all had to make (protection circuit cut out) can you really drill your E string w your thumb with this thing on?

    would it help in that respect? I've always had old stuff, and this is still uncharted territory for me.

    and boy oh boy, am I getting it bad for a SVT 7

    started w a 350, then a 500 now I want a 7. I want that tube in there.
  2. bertbass666


    Mar 6, 2009
    Don't do compression live. It seems to take all the dynamics away for me.
  3. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    With few exceptions, I've never been terribly keen on the onboard comps. Since it's available, feel free to experiment. Lower settings will offer some protection without squashing dynamics but I doubt if it will provide "brick wall" limiting. As always, let your ears & common sense be your guides. If pleased to some degree, you may want to consider upgrading to a decent pedal-format compressor.

  4. guy n. cognito

    guy n. cognito Secret Agent Member Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 28, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    Only if you don't know how to use it. Compression can be a great tool, and allow you to do some neat things with your tone without overloading the volume.
  5. If your compressor is "taking your dynamics away" you've got is set to hard. If it's to hard you fight it all the time and you loose the dynamics.

    I use compression ALL THE TIME. Have for 20 years, 11 of them on the road doing both small and large venue gigs. If your playing a live show with a real FOH guy, he's compressing you.

    You RARELY hear bass WITHOUT compression, either by the player (via amp, outboard or pedal) or the FOH engineer in a profession setting, recording or live.

    Think of compression as an automatic volume control. On your amp you are setting a threshold at which the compressing begins. In your case i would set it fairly low (See below).

    My EBS compressor has a LED the pluses when it starts to squeeze. This is VERY helpful and more companies should do this.

    At lower setting it will decrease your volume with the most extreme volume jumps. It will not effect your tone. It will add a line of defense against unwanted distortion which can protect your speakers.

    At mid settings it can add punch to you tone. This is where a pedal or other form of outboard gear has an advantage over the simple comps found in amps. You can adjust the output gain AFTER you compress so that you don't loose the dynamic. Compression becomes an effect.

    At really hard settings you can kill your tone. Your hand will hurt cause your playing hard and you wont be able to hear yourself regardless of the volume setting.

    Like I said above set it lite. Do this buy playing REALLY hard, as if your really into the biggest show of your life and the band is killing. Now bring the comp up to the point where you start to hear it squeeze on you. This will start subtle, so play close attention. Stop when you hear it. This is the sweet spot where it will only function when you're really hit it hard. Other times you'll pass right through.

    You can do it the other way also. Turn it up all the way, play hard and back off.

    In pedals I prefer the EBS because it's simple. 2 knobs and a switch. It hard to make it kill your tone. It's easy to set up and sounds incredible.It's also $200 USD.

    "Comp/Limit", Output and a mini toggle that let you select the type of comp. Normal, Tube (mimics a tube comp extremely well) and Multiband that allows you to compress the highs and lows independently. I use the tube setting.

    The MXR is really good also, BUT it has more controls, which means that it's easier to kill tone. IT has an input and output gain and an Attack (how fast is squeezes), a release (how fast it lets go) and ratio.

    Ratio is where compression is. This is basically what happening. Say you have a 2 to 1 (2:1) ratio. For every 2 db of volume increase it will compress 1 db. Put this way it's easy to see how this can kill tone.

    The MXR does have an LED band that shows you to see the compression which is super helpful but most people get bogged down in all the knobs because they don't know what they do and how the interact with each other. Hell, I'm not a big fan of knobs so i can understand.

    So there you go.
  6. iiipopes


    May 4, 2009
    Like everything else, compression is a tool, not a cure.

    Technique is everything. Learn to play in the envelope and the groove first. Then compression can be used as it should.

    Decades ago, after Fender put two polepieces per string instead of one, and amps were smaller tube amps, everything naturally compressed.

    Now, with digital electronics, it's even more important for a player to refine technique so that it sounds good going in.

    Since I learned to play before compression was available outside the studio, I had to work on technique to make sure I supported the ensemble properly. As a result, I only use just the slightest bit of compression in order to match the rest of the ensemble in tonality and character.

    Even the one time I got to play on national TV, through a direct box, the engineer commented on how little compression he needed to use so I would slot the mix and make efficient use of the bandwidth.

    So to answer the OP question - how much compression do I use? Very little.
  7. guy n. cognito

    guy n. cognito Secret Agent Member Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 28, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    The number of controls has nothing to do with how the pedal controls your tone. In fact, the additional knob give you MORE control and ability to maximize your tone. Reading the instructions clears up any confusion about what the knobs do.
  8. CL400Peavey

    CL400Peavey Supporting Member

    Nov 7, 2011
    Grand Rapids Michigan
    I have a PF-500. The compressor is amazingly useful and simple. The key to it is, if you can hear it working, you have it turned up too much. The LED should flicker on and off very quickly but should never stay on.

    Set your EQ to where you roughly want it. Push your gain right up to where the clip light is on, then back off just at tad. It too should flicker on and off a bit. Then bring your compressor up as you play hard through your bass. Bring it up to where it is just barely flickering when you are playing your hardest. Set your master gain and play.
  9. Guy. You didn't read my post very close.

    I NEVER said that the number of knobs change how the pedal adjusts your tone. I said compressors are "automatic volume knobs". At no time did I ever change this basic point. All compressors are this regardless if they have one knob, as in this case, or 15 knobs on that super duper crazy expensive studio compressor.

    I DID say that the more control makes it EASIER to kill your tone IF you don't know what the knobs do and how they interact.

    EXAMPLE: On the two knob EBS I said it's HARD to kill your tone. This is not like saying "impossible".

    Be honest. Most people don't read instructions and even then some people don't understand.
  10. CL400.

    Exactly. Well done. This is exactly what I do.
  11. guy n. cognito

    guy n. cognito Secret Agent Member Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 28, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    Could be. There are lots of idiots out there. I read the instructions on my MXR comp and have no issues using it. The range of adjustments makes it HARDER to "kill" my tone....not easier. The instructions actually walk you through the process of setting everything from light compression to a "hard knee" limiter type setting.
  12. username1


    Dec 28, 2005
    alberta canada
    I also run my compression just barely on on my svt 7pro just as a protection for my speakers. It usually isnt flashing unless i hit a low note hard. Doesnt affect my tone at all but does give my speakers a little protection if I'm really nailing a low note hard.
  13. What ever.
  14. chadds


    Mar 18, 2000
    I have no qualms about compression being used in Mastering or FOH. For instruments I never use it and haven't in 46 years of large, medium and small venues.

    Sometimes it's a way to get more volume out of an amp that needs more watts for headroom.

    Sometimes it's the perfect thing matched to your technique to get the best of you out there.

    Sometimes it's like auto tune.

    Starting life as a classical player my technique is even and under my control. Last backline I played through had a very cheap compressor pedal that I was told I had to use. It was the weakest link in the chain. It did allow the owner to get this slap & pop sound he desired.

    Our mileage does vary.
  15. Floyd Eye

    Floyd Eye Banned

    Feb 21, 2010
    St. Louis
    FWIW, I have never seen an amp with a single preamp tube that sounded like a tube amp in any way. There are reasons to jones for the 7, but I don't think the single 12AX7 is one of them.
  16. Floyd Eye

    Floyd Eye Banned

    Feb 21, 2010
    St. Louis
    Also, I have been using the TLC for a couple years now. Took it off my board at practice last week and will not be putting it back on.
  17. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    7 Pro does sound tubey, though...for a solid state amp ;)
  18. Floyd Eye

    Floyd Eye Banned

    Feb 21, 2010
    St. Louis
    My old POS Carvin through an RBI sounds "Tubey" too. Doesn't sound like an SVT though. lol
  19. chadds


    Mar 18, 2000
    It's funny how that distinction has blurred with clean tube amps and tubey SS amps.
  20. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    There you go.