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Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by Fishbrain, Jun 3, 2001.
what is it?
Basically, it evens out the dynamics in a signal. If you look at a waveform (e.g. a wave-file on your computer), you may see that it may have some peaks that stick out above everything else. If you want to "flatten" the waveform and "tame" the peaks, you use compression.
Good compressors are very handy as studio-equipment, but to be successful in using one you need to know HOW and WHEN to use them. They can do wonderful things in the right hands, while on the other hand if you don't know what you're doing, it will most likely sound like crap.
The compressors built into most bass amps are VERY simplified (often only one knob where it would be half a dozen on a "real" compressor), but if it's well made, it will do the job. I.e. covering up your technique flaws and killing your dynamics. If it's not well made, it will squish your tone and bring noise along with it.
I've experienced a few of these built-into-bass-amps-compressors, good and bad. The best one I've heard so far is in my EBS amp. The worst... well, I used a Laney BC-120 a number of times and you cannot even imagine how awful its compressor was.
It makes your quieter notes louder and your louder notes quieter, keeping your playing in a happy medium volume, depending on how you set it.
So, if this is a diagram of your signal, with the large spike being where you hit the string too hard, and the low spike being where you overcompensated and played too softly.
/ \ /\
/ \/ \
Through a compressor the SAME signalwould look like this:
/ \ / \
/ \/ \
Oysterman is very right, compression is very easy to misuse, and, as it amplifies your softer notes it also amplifies any background noise.
Also, compression gives you more sustain by amplifying a decaying note, making it last longer. (Just watch out for the hiss!)
Dammit my little signal spikes didn't turn out the way I would have liked. They looked so cool when I typed them. Ah well. You get the idea.