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[Compressor Help Please...]

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by Luciano_Bass, Dec 2, 2004.


  1. Luciano_Bass

    Luciano_Bass Guest

    Nov 6, 2004
    Glasgow
    Hey there,

    I recently bought a BOSS ME50B - there is a compressor on the pedal and this is the first time I've ever noticed my bass sounding top notch in a band situation.

    There are five settings:
    1. NATURAL
    2. LIMITER
    3. 160D SOFT
    4. 160D HARD
    5. D-COMP

    I currently use the 'NATURAL' compressor as it so far has sounded good with my group (House/Funk), but I have no idea what the compressor is actually doing, can anyone help?

    Also, if there are any ME50B users out there, do you know what each compressor on the pedal actually does to your sound. I'm always getting folk saying things like, "...this increases the sound by 10dB" etc, but that's not really meaning much to me...

    I need someone to be saying something more like, "This compressor will be good for a hard slap sound, and by altering the threshold will alter..." etc, as this is a much more practical and musical understanding. The technical terms will mean nothing to me until I understand what they can actually do...

    So if anyone can help I would really appreciate it,

    Piece.
     
  2. Heckxx

    Heckxx

    Nov 2, 2004
    Libertyville, IL
    Generally, a compressor keeps the Volume Level more even, less variable. I use a compressor for just that, because sometimes when i go on the low stings it booms too much w/o the compressor.
     
  3. Lyle Caldwell

    Lyle Caldwell

    Sep 7, 2004
    Memphis
  4. It looks like the 'Natural' setting is reminiscent of the Boss CS-2 Compression/sustainer, which is a natural compression...I don't know if you have a ratio setting that you can adjust, but generally a Natural compression has a ratio of about 2:1 or 3:1, where when the input reaches X loudness, the output is 'compressed' by 1/2X or 1/3X. The 'Limiting' setting will have a very high ratio (probably 7:1 or 10:1), and any sound above X loudness will be cut to an extreme extent.

    The 160 settings are modeled after the industry-standard DBX 160 compressors, which have Hard knee and Soft knee compression. The 'Knee' is that point on the volume curve where the threshold is set...Soft knee means the compressor is gradually engaged and is a more rounded ratio...hard knee is an immediate cut with compression.

    The D-Comp is most-likely modeled after the MXR Dyna Comp...which was one of the most widely-used compression stomp boxes for many years.

    Anyway, what the compressor is doing to your sound is evening it out and making the subharmonic overtones (which are loud and muddy) be compressed...thereby letting the true tone of the bass stand out. It's a good thing.
     
  5. Lyle Caldwell

    Lyle Caldwell

    Sep 7, 2004
    Memphis
    It's much more complicated than just evening out the sound. If you set for a good bit of compression with a slow attack, it will make the transient of each note more prominent, or punchy. If you set a really fast attack, you can subdue the transient, making the sound smoother or rounder. If you set a slow release, you can increase sustain, or even make the notes "bloom" if the compression ratio is high enough (think McCartney). If you set a fast release, you can make the sound more percussive (attention slappers).

    A compressor can also act like an EQ- if you're bringing out the transients, the highs are accentuated. If you're smoothing the transients, the highs are attenuated.
     
  6. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    There ya go - that's what I think for my sound too. I use compression full-time, and wouldn't have it any other way. I use the Boss four-knob pedal for now, and am very pleased with the sound, but I'm looking forward to getting a nice studio unit for the amp loop when I get a chance.

    I can't specifically answer your questions about all those presets, but the thoughts on my mind are thus: I'd stay away from soft knee - I don't think that's a good treatment for bass, especially with fast attack times. Don't choose a setting with too fast of an attack, or too slow of a release. Delaying the attack to a certain extent 'opens up' the sound, rather than having the dynamics sound strangled; delaying the attack further will let enough of the initial plucking transient through to actually accentuate the plucking dynamic. I prefer a slow attack that somewhat lets the plucks 'jump out'. With release, making it too long will make the notes 'bloom', which I think should be avoided; making it real short will give you more of a wall-of-sound sound - including bringing up little finger noise between notes. I prefer quite a fast release for a little more of that 'caged animal' sound.

    If you like playing harmonics, then heavy compression (in this case I mainly mean using a low threshold and fairly high ratio) will make them sound powerful and up-front, and this also compensates for being off on the nodes a little, or for playing the really high-pitched, more obscure ones.

    Enjoy,

    Joe
     
  7. Luciano_Bass

    Luciano_Bass Guest

    Nov 6, 2004
    Glasgow
    Thanks very much, this has been a great help I'm gonna read that 'Groundwork' article now.

    Cheers
     
  8. Luciano_Bass

    Luciano_Bass Guest

    Nov 6, 2004
    Glasgow
  9. johnvice

    johnvice

    Sep 7, 2004
    1. NATURAL
    2. LIMITER
    3. 160D SOFT
    4. 160D HARD
    5. D-COMP

    Luciano;
    I am adapting from a rack mounted compressor with all the controls to the ME-50b with limited controls.

    As you have read that excellent article of how compressors work, I won’t reiterate. Just be aware that what BOSS has done with this unit is to take 2 compressors that are popular for use with bass and digitally emulate them in this unit. I had an old original DBX160 compressor (they have been around since about 1975) and the ME-50b faithfully recreates the characteristics of this compressor.

    The D-COMP emulates the MXR Dynacomp compressor. I never liked the Dynacomp as it has a really “squishy” sound which the ME-50b faithfully recreates.

    NATURAL does not emulate anything. It’s just an excellent plain vanilla compressor.

    I have gravitated towards the limiter as I typically want to limit louder dynamics (i.e. the louder attack from slapping) rather than making softer passage louder.

    Personally, I would have rather BOSS had no emulation and more control, i.e. a compressor ratio knob I miss the most) . That said, BOSS did an excellent job of looking at how bass players use compression and recreating this in the design.

    The best thing you can do is to experiment yourself. Turn every other effect on the unit of and try each of the 5 compressor settings with varied right hand styles while moving the threshold/sustain control knob to see how it effects your sound.
     
  10. Luciano_Bass

    Luciano_Bass Guest

    Nov 6, 2004
    Glasgow
    Cheers John