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Compressor Last In Pedal Chain ???

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by Tweaker27, Feb 16, 2015.

  1. Tweaker27


    Aug 28, 2014
    New Haven, CT

    I have always used my compressor pretty early in my pedal chain.
    However, I have a few pedals now with big volume spikes that I'd like to tame and smooth out.
    So I'm experimenting with putting the compressor last in the chain.

    I was just wondering if any other players have used their compressors last in line and what your thoughts were.

  2. DirtyDuke

    DirtyDuke Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 13, 2012
    guelph ontario
    Partner Southampton Pedals, Partner CCP
    I prefer mi e first, but I've been experimenting with a limiter or compressor at the end with good results...
  3. monkeyfinger

    monkeyfinger Moderator Staff Member

    Sounds like you want a limiter, which is just a special application of compressor. It would make sense to have two compressors in this case.
    GMC likes this.
  4. shinybeast


    Apr 1, 2014
    With my current setup, I'm liking the compressor last. I think in general pedals that respond to dynamics sound best in front of pedals that reduce dynamics. Also, I like to use clean blend with high gain dirt pedals, and the compressor helps the clean sound to blend with the distorted sound because it affects the two signals differently, compressing the peaks on the clean signal where the distortion is already compressing the dirty signal. The compressor seems to do this better when situated after the dirt pedals rather than before. The trade off is a little more noise, as the compressor boosts the noise generated by the pedals. Right now it's a tradeoff I'm willing to live with. I might change my mind if I get around to experimenting with different compressors.
    Pacodelivery likes this.
  5. BazzTard

    BazzTard Inactive

    the only rule about pedal order is: "There are no rules"

    it makes sense to use a limiter at the end of the chain, but a compressor ?

    I think of it as the compressor works on your bass input, evening out the strings' and your fingers' volume and giving your initial signal punch and consistency . The Limiter is a peak level limiter, keeping it all under a predetermined peak level.

    That's one opinion. I say try it, and report back please.
  6. First, what compressor do you have? Is it an effect pedal like a JHS Lime Aid that adds a little squishiness but is more for bringing out some tonal characteristics? Or is it something like a Cali76 or Empress Comp that actually functions as a compressor? If it's the latter, go for it. If it's an effect pedal, I'm not sure it would be completely beneficial.
  7. Real Soon

    Real Soon

    Aug 15, 2013
    Atlanta, GA
    As BFunk said, a limiter is a compressor with a specific purpose...though there are dedicated limiter FX pedals out there. They're mostly unnecessary, as good compressor pedals can perform the limiter function just fine. And it's not a common thing, but still perfectly good practice to have two compressors. You see that kind of setup in studio FX chains all the time...three if you include a mix bus low-ratio compressor.

    But if you don't wanna spring for another pedal, then there's good common-practice chaining method for pedals. Tuner goes first so it always gets clean signal to tune. Then, your biggest signal spikers...wah pedals, phasers (esp with high feedback), envelope filters, etc. If you have an always-on drive, it may obviate the need for a compressor; otherwise, it should really go before the compressor, if you want to follow studio practice; that way, the drive takes up your known clean (or wah'd, etc) signal and does its saturation and overtone enhancing in a consistent & known fashion, and just has the most natural sonic response. EQ likewise goes before compressor, as it creates spikes when altered frequency bands "run into" each other due to subtle shifts in those bands' phases (which, for examples, the Waves Linear Phase EQ plugin eliminates).

    But atmospheric effects like delay and reverb should go after the compressor, typically. They're designed to vary a great deal in amplitude, from as loud as your original signal (or louder) down to nothing, all smoothly and linearly. Putting the compressor after that creates a very non-linear fall in the reverb tail or delay repeats, and also forces an interaction between the dry/wah'd/phasered/envelope filtered/spiked/etc signal and the delay and reverb sounds. Which can be extremely cool, but is also unpredictable; it takes a lot of tuning and really is a unique sonic effect to the specific chain of pedals you're using.

    And to get a compressor pedal to act as a limiter, really all you have to do is crank up the ratio, bring the attack down to absolute minimum, and then tune the release to whatever sounds smooth and natural. Typically, that's fairly short but not pumping short. Ratio-wise, start at around 6:1 (designated as "brick wall" compression) and go higher the more signal spiking you have to press down.

    If you don't have a lot of spiking effects, then you can absolutely use a normal compressor setting. For example, the Diamond is hard-set to 3:1 ratio, I think it is, and that's in between subtle "warming" compression and the most common ratio for vocals (4:1).

    Pedals are basically studio FX taken out of the studio. 90% of protocol there is applicable, including deciding to break the "rules", which are just conventions for getting certain positive results. The rest is learning the weird little properties of each pedal and keeping the signal noise down and knowing when to add a buffer, etc.
  8. Diamond Comp at the front, Boss Limiter at the back.
  9. GMC


    Jan 1, 2006
    Wiltshire, UK
    I like amps which have a compressor in them...so I can put my pedal compressor early in the chain and have one on the end too (ie the amp) in case I need it. I have an input EQ and compressor and an output EQ and compressor, with all my other pedals in between in the fx loop.
    Maybe I'm a bit extreme?
  10. Tweaker27


    Aug 28, 2014
    New Haven, CT
    Currently, I have a Wampler Ego compressor. I really dig it because of the blend knob.
    I was originally just going to keep it first in my pedal chain and get a limiter for the end of the chain.
    But now I'm awaiting the arrival of a FEA Dual Engine Compressor Limiter.
    Seems to me that with a dedicated compressor and limiter built into the same pedal, it should go last, no?

    With that said...
    Seeing as some amps have compression built in, you'd HAVE TO put all your pedals before it. Which makes me thing compression last is a good idea.
    I'm still playing around with the positions.
  11. monkeyfinger

    monkeyfinger Moderator Staff Member

    I have a DE-CL. In my case, it sort of is at the beginning. This is because I have my dynamic effects in a different loop than my comp. So I never have comp on at the same time as dirt, filters, etc. Modulating effects come after these loops, followed by preamp, mid-boost, and volume. I also have a buffer boost before everything. I like it at the beginning. The limiter is a great effect.
  12. Bassmike62

    Bassmike62 Punch'n Ooomph provider Supporting Member

    I tried the LMB-3 last for a while. All that changed when I got the BFD: that fuzz works much better when the comp is before in the chain, IMO. Otherwise, it becomes a fizzy mess.
  13. franvarin


    May 30, 2013
    Rhode Island

    I use a BBE Opto Stomp on my board. It's the first pedal after the Tuner. I then run through modulation pedals then into the overdrive and finally tone shaping pedals. I go directly into my preamp in my rack. The last thing in the signal chain is a rack mount DBX 166A compressor. So, I compress the initial Bass signal then on the way out to keep the signal even into the power amp. Sounds great IMHO, and i've gotten a lot of complements on it. So, nothing wrong with compressing twice if you have pedals that produce spikes. I say go for it.
  14. Tweaker27


    Aug 28, 2014
    New Haven, CT
    So, after experimenting with order today, I'm wiring the board as follows...

    *** BASS ***
    Boss Tuner
    Source Audio EQ
    TWA Great Divide
    Aguilar Octave
    Ibanez Flanger
    Fender Phaser
    Wampler Ego Compressor (To be replaced by FEA Dual Engine Compressor Limiter tomorrow)
    Fender Sub Lime Fuzz
    Mini Moog Delay
    *** AMP ***

    Sounds good to me! What are your thoughts?

  15. monkeyfinger

    monkeyfinger Moderator Staff Member

    Sounds great. Depending on your phaser, flanger and comp settings, you may want to turn off comp when running the phaser or flanger.
  16. Tweaker27


    Aug 28, 2014
    New Haven, CT
    The Flanger is one of the pedals I need the Limiter for.
    The "Takeoff" setting is wild, but the volume jump is too much.
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