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Compressor Review Megathread

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by bongomania, Feb 14, 2006.

  1. bongomania

    bongomania Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    Since people are always asking for compressor recommendations, I figured there should be a thread with all the answers.

    First, here is an introductory article explaining what compression is and how it works. Please read! And here is a very thorough article on compression for people wanting to learn professional tweaks and techniques. And here's another really good article on compression, from Mix magazine.

    Here is a list of the comp pedals that have the most positive reviews on Harmony Central:

    Analog Man (all four models)
    Barber Tone Press
    Carl Martin
    Demeter Compulator
    EBS MultiComp
    HomeBrew Arizona CPR
    T-Rex Compnova
    Toadworks Mr. Squishy

    ...and in the rackmount category, the Presonus Bluemax and dbx 160A are well liked. Now, obviously there is a huge limitation to this list- there are several awesome units that just happen to not have numbers of raving fans on HC. Some of the nicer boutique units in particular had only one or two reviews. But at least this gives you an idea of which ones have made many people happy! Note that while the Keeley has the largest number of raving fans, bassists say it may not be so hot for bass. Links to reviews of all of these pedals are in posts below.

    Here on TalkBass I've seen users raving about a few specific units for bass: Demeter Compulator, Aphex Punch Factory, Toadworks Mr. Squishy, EBS MultiComp, and ART Levelar are the TB favorites. Honorable mention goes to the Trace Elliot Dual-Band, although it is out of production. No, the Ashdown is not the same pedal. The FMR RNC, Rane DC-24, and BBE MaxCom seem to be the favorite rackmount comps here.

    Here is a link to a bunch of reviews I wrote of the various compressors I've owned. (updated 9/22/06)

    And here is the first batch of Harmony Central reviews, in alphabetical order:
    Akai Hexacomp
    Alesis NanoComp
    Alesis 3630
    Analog Man Bi-Comprossor
    Analog Man Comprossor
    Analog Man Juicer
    Analog Man Mini Bi-Comprossor
    Aphex Compellor 300
    Aphex Punch Factory
    ART Levelar
    Ashly CLX-51
    Atomic Classic Grey
    Barber Tone Press
    BBE MaxCom
    BBE Opto-Stomp
    Bellari RP-503
    Blackbox Oxygen
    Boss CS3
    Boss LMB3
    Carl Martin
    Dan Armstrong Orange Squeezer
    Danelectro Surf & Turf
    various dbx models
    Demeter Compulator
    Diamond Pedals
    Digitech Bass Squeeze
    DOD 280
    DOD FX80-B

    ...I only got through the letter "d" so far. And I didn't include reviews of Behringer units, because IMO they're not worth the trouble. I'll try to add more of the HC links over the next few days.

    Everyone, please pitch in with your reviews! Please be specific, don't just say "it rocks" or "it sucks". Squish squish!
  2. Nyarlathotep

    Nyarlathotep Banned

    Feb 5, 2006
    West Coast of Canada
    All round great commpressor:

    Transparent (unless you crank it)
    Simple (two nobs)
    LED indicator for how much your getting compressed :D

    Adds a little noise (but not much)

    In my case the noise is probably the noise from my bass, enhanced...
  3. SuperDuck


    Sep 26, 2000
    You didn't like the Alesis Nanocomp?
  4. bongomania

    bongomania Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    Actually I forgot about the Nano... I just remembered hating the 3630, so I didn't include it initially. I have updated the list with both of them for comparison.
  5. Planet Boulder

    Planet Boulder Hey, this is a private residence...man

    Nov 10, 2001
    6,482 feet above sea level
    I once had impure thoughts. Oh, and I pluck my ear hair.
    Here was my review of the BBE Maxcom from another thread (I now run this in the effect loop of my Eden Navigator):

    "Picked up a like new (not a scratch on it - still even smelled new) BBE MaxCom compressor last week for $125.00. I swear by compressors and I've owned two DBXs (262, which i still own, and a 266XL, which I recently sold to a TBer), and an ART, which ultimately died a while back.

    Anywho, the MaxCom has the same basic features as your "typical" dual-channel compressor nowadays (gate threshold, threshold, ratio, attack, output, stereo switch) and it also features 2 sonic maximizers, one for each channel. It also features XLR and 1/4" I/Os in back. These units are, like many things nowadays, made in China.

    I do a lot of slapping and i like a compressor that doesn't "pump" or produce noticeable dips unexpectedly. For reference, I set my compressors in a dual channel fashion using the settings that have been posted repeatedly on this site (those who have searched for compressor settings here know what I'm talking about - others can, and probably should, search for them - they have worked quite well for me).

    The overall construction is better than I expect from Chinese-made rack units, given my experience. Appears to be ruggedly built. The dials seem to be solid and tight, but it does possess two sets of rather ugly LED meters. Doesn't bother me.

    I run this compressor in my effects loop through my G-K RB700II.

    The compressor itself offers nice transparency (perfect for me, at least) and the manner in which it lends punch to my slap tone is instantly noticeable. I compared it side-by-side to my dbx 262, which is also a solid unit, and I actually found it to be more transparent while affording far greater punch.

    Sure, you can spend a lot of bread and get a high-end one, but, for $125.00, the BBE MaxCom is the best compressor I have personally owned yet. Just my opinion and YMMV. These are typically found on ebay for around $199.00, which is a fair price, in my opinion, given the compressors I've owned and played (mostly dbxs, ARTs and an Aphex) in that range."
  6. Volk


    Dec 18, 2005
    South Jersey
    So outta all of those which one was your favorite?
  7. thejohnkim


    Sep 30, 2003
    I really liked the DBX 163x, but i'm still looking for something that does the same thing, in stompbox format, with seperate lows and highs compression - dual band. but isn't bass specific because i double my bass effects setup as my g**tar effects setup as well.
  8. bongomania

    bongomania Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    Here is another awesome page of compressor reviews. Check it out, he did a bunch of great side-by-side comparisons.
  9. Okay...fine. You didn't include Behringer units, but you just went against your own rule and only said "they're not worth the trouble". What kind of review is that?:confused:

    To quote, well, you; "Please be specific".
  10. bongomania

    bongomania Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    OK, fair enough. However my reasons for not wanting to bother with Behringer have a lot to do with the subject matter of the "Behringer lawsuit" sticky at the top of the effects forum page. And the mod has clearly asked posters to stay away from that subject. Sure, I was being predjudicial and unfair to not include them in my first post. But we're all big boys and girls, and if anyone is curious about Behringer they can go to Harmony Central themselves, and post the links here in this thread. I just didn't feel like taking the time for them myself. Of course, now I have just taken a chunk of time for them to explain myself, so whatever.

    (edited to remove my potentially slanderous comments about Behringer's business ethics)
  11. duke2004

    duke2004 Supporting Member

    Mar 29, 2004
    Cambridge, Mass.
    Demeter Compulator pedal.
    amazing quality sound in super simple stomp box. throwing my Sansamp BDDI in a dumpster (well, maybe just selling it).
  12. Tedintheshed

    Tedintheshed Banned

    Oct 8, 2004
    Columbus, Ohio
    Keep that pedal- it's too handy not to!
  13. slinkp


    Aug 29, 2003
    brooklyn, NY, USA
    Have you tried the EBS Multicomp? It does two-band compression. I like it pretty well for both guitar and bass.

    My only gripe with it is that it takes off a bit of upper treble. Not enough to notice on bass in a band situation, but enough that it bugs me when playing solo.

    Right now I'm itching to try out a Keeley compressor.
  14. SuperDuck


    Sep 26, 2000
    Ugh. Painful to read. ;)
  15. Thanks for the clarification. Point well taken. "Can-'O-Worms";) comes to mind, although I had just scanned that sticky, too, recently and I don't think that it was meant to deter from broaching the company per se, as much as just keeping the lawsuit end of it and everyone's opinions on the matter out of the threads. Sorry to use up some of your "chunk", but I appreciate your candor. (I think that's how it's spelled...) That's what happens when I try to use big words.

    Good job inputting the other reviews! I'm gonna check some out. I keep thinking "compressor", but can't decide if it's quite what I'm looking for, or if it actually does what I'm thinking it does. Lots of info here. You've been a big help. Thank you!:D
  16. bongomania

    bongomania Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
  17. Nyarlathotep

    Nyarlathotep Banned

    Feb 5, 2006
    West Coast of Canada
    Now someone should make this a sticky so that no one can miss it ;) :bag:
  18. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    You can mention Behringer products all you'd like, until you get to those potentially slanderous comments about their Business ethics. The ethics discussion isn't allowed in this forum, everything else is more than welcome.

    Regarding stickying this, I'm a bit reluctant at first because it's all Harmony Central links (all of which should be taken with a grain of salt as most of these people post at first when it's brand new, and theyre in love with the thing) -- doesn't matter. I'll sticky this, but hope that more people come along with their OWN reviews as well.
    PawleeP likes this.