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Compressor Settings....

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by Jalbert, Jan 29, 2003.

  1. Jalbert


    Aug 29, 2002
    Austin, TX
    I've been using a compressor now for almost a year now and I've adjusted and changed the settings here and there and still I'm not really "stoked" about the sound. To be honest, I really don't know what the hell I'm doing with it. I've been playing nearly 20 years now and claim to have a "good ear". But this compressor has me feeling clueless sometimes.

    Any advise on the settings would be much appreciated. Threshold, ratio, attack, etc....

    I understand that the amp, the bass itself, the player and their technique all factor in. But I just want to know how some of you have your setting configured on your compressor.

    I use a bi-amped GK RB800 though a sonic maximizer, then compressed running through Trace Elliott 4X10 & 1X15. I play American Fender P Basses so I get a rich tone and a fat low end.

    I use a DBX 266XL compressor/Gate with a threshold and ratio setting for expander/gate. And thresh, ratio, attack, release, gain with a hard/soft switch for the compressor.

    Any tips or ideas? Thanks
  2. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    I personally use gentle compression: ratio less than 2:1. That gives me a bit of tubey evenness and restrains peaks when I slap.

    I'd encourage you to go to the dbx website and look for info on how to get the most from your compressor.
  3. ga_edwards


    Sep 8, 2000
    UK, Essex
    I'd also encourage you to put the compressor forst in the chain, even between bass and amp, and the BBE last, in the fx loop.

    You're probably getting a odd sound because you're adding extra top and bottom end harmonics and then compressing the life out of them in the current configuration.

    as far as the comp setting go, try not to use a ration over 5 to keep it natual sounding. Adjust the threshold so that it doesn't go more than -6/-8 db on the gain reduction scale. A fairly fast attack and medium release should help, tho my compressor has got an auto switch that sets attack and release for me.
    I'd personally stick to hard knee, as I find soft sucks out the bottom end.
  4. BlacksHole


    Mar 22, 2000
    Rockville, MD
    When I use a compressor, which I'm doing now, I like it first in the "chain". I also like it so that it is barely on, i.e., only addresses the extremes. I do set the limiter and noise gate functions as well. For a while I tried using the auto feature on my Behringer, but I felt that it was too much compression, so I'm back to manual. I tend to go more towards 4:1 rather than 2:1 as listed above, but I still only let it address the loudest notes anyway. I find that it is a tad difficult to find the spot where I still have strong control over my dynamics and still have compression.
  5. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    The threshold control can be very important, as mentioned. If for example your goal is merely to restrain peaks while slapping, you could use a more severe ratio of 5:1 or greater, but carefully set the threshold so that compression only kicks in on the very loudest notes.

    As mentioned, that can be tricky. Note that any level or EQ adjustments made prior to the compressor, either on your bass or another device, will affect the threshold. Therefore, if your threshold point is critical, that's another reason to put the compressor early in the signal chain. One reason I've settled on a low ratio is that threshold point is less critical... my dynamics arent' severely affected even when threshold is very low (i.e. my signal is always being compressed)... that sometimes happens when I get careless making adjustments to my onboard EQ (but hey, it ain't easy when you play with a guitarist who keeps turning up throughout the night).
  6. BryanB

    BryanB Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Do not put a DBX 266XL first in the chain. It is not designed for instrument level signals, nor is the impedence correct for basses. (10 KOhms isn't even enough for most active basses.)

    Ideally, this should between your pre-amp and your power amp. From what I can see of the amp's specs, you don't have the necessary pre-amp out, power amp in jacks to do this. Also, considering that you have a dual mono compressor and a bi-amped rig, it would be ideal to compress the highs and lows separately, but you can't do this either. So you are stuck keeping in your effects loop.

    I would put the sonic maximer after the compressor. This compressor has the tendency to dull the sound because it over compresses the highs in response to the high level of energy in the lows. Putting the SM after the compressor will restore some of this.

    Turn off the gating. Gating is only good for drums and then only in limited circumstances.

    For the compression:

    For light compression:

    Threshold: -5 to -15 dBu
    Compression: 2-3: 1
    Attack: 20-30 mS
    Release: .5-1 second
    Gain: as needed

    This is good for ballads, fretless bass, and light jazz.

    For meduim compression:

    Threshold: -10 to -20 dBu
    Compression: 4:1
    Attack: 10-20 mS
    Release: .3+ secs (lower values will give you more snap but will introduce compression artifacts.)
    Gain: as needed

    Heavy compression:
    Same as above, but increase ratio to 6:1

    If you use the limiter set it so that the limiting light just starts to flicker during the hardest playing.

    Also, keep in mind that the indicators on the front panel of the DBX 266 are notoriously in-accurate. The attack times are probably much longer than are indicated by the dial. So you will need to adjust the values above to compensate. (The threshold and make-up gain values are going to depend on a lot on you bass, the amp, and your playing style.) Also the DBX will introduce compression artifacts even under moderate settings. This can be heard as a pumping, or breathing sound.

    Personally, I would recommend ditching the 266 and getting an FMR RNC1173. This is a much better compressor in that it is more transparent, more accurate, and has less artifacts than any other compressor under $1000.
  7. Sonic Max./Enhancer should always be placed after the Compressor, last in the signal chain before the power amp.

    Live Performance Bass Settings.

    Daisy Chain both halves of the Stereo Compressor by patching channel one output into channel two input.
    Bass>Preamp>Channel 1 Input>Channel 1 Output>Channel 2 Input>Channel 2 Output>Amp

    Turn off gating. Compressor gating is better designed for vocals and drums. It really cuts into your stringed instruments sustain. Another Noise Suppressor/Gate designed for guitar/bass will cut the noise and keep the sustain.

    Channel 1:

    Threshold: -10db,
    Ratio 4:1,
    Soft Knee Compression
    Attack: 30 ms
    Release: @ 0.25
    Output: Boost +3db

    Set Peak Limite to where it barely flashes on your strongest open E slap.
    Setting depends on your preamp output.

    O.K., these seem like reasonable compressor settings. The magic is in the second channel that maintains dynamics and raises the headroom thus making the amp louder.The trick is just "re-compressing" the peaks only.
    Therefore the noise floor does not go up and the remaining high energy peaks are tamed, not limited,
    for more headroom without over compressing the dynamic signal.

    Channel 2:

    Threshold: 0db to +3 db

    This Threshold setting allows Channel 1 to duck under this setting and therefore only the peaks that reach 0db -/+3db are processed by Channel 2.
    This will process only the louder peaks.

    Ratio: 6:1
    Hard Knee Compression
    Attack Fastest Setting (1 ms)

    Fast Attack times cause "click."
    This phenomenon is eliminated by the Attack setting on the Channel 1, and the Channel 2 Threshold also protects against click.
    A very fast Attack is necessary on Channel 2 in order to have the Peaks acted on a fast as possible, thus extending headroom.

    Release: A touch above 0.25 ms.
    Output: +3 to 5db, this gives an additional gain stage.
    Peak Limiter: to taste...
    Or the slightest flash with the the hardest slap on open E
    {suggestion @ set at +16 db.}
  8. zombie thread :bag:

    extremely helpful info thanks so much :D
  9. Man_do_Lixo


    Jul 2, 2008
    Do you use a compressor or sustainer or both in front to even the bass signal in order to get a better tracking if using a bass synth? Does it get a better tracking or not?

    I use a Markbass supersynth as the first pedal in my pedalboard (no compression/sustain yet) and i notest some tracking issues like the bass signal has sudendly loose it's sustain when the effect is on and the clean signal takes place over the effect...
  10. Floyd Eye

    Floyd Eye Banned

    Feb 21, 2010
    St. Louis
    I use a TLC last in the chain, after a gob of pedals. It's always on and it works perfectly for me. YMMV
  11. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    North Dakota
    The Rane site also has good compressor info.
  12. mmbongo

    mmbongo Dilly Dilly! Supporting Member

    Aug 5, 2009
    I like my compressor last in the chain. The other effects won't work properly if they get a compressed signal.
  13. M Sterling

    M Sterling Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 23, 2010
    Pittsburgh, PA
    I keep mine first for a few reasons.

    -I don't like the way dirt pedals sound compressed
    -it's a nice buffer for a passive bass at the beginning of a long signal chain. Reduces some noise.
    -I can set it to trigger my envelope filters exactly the way I want. Most people don't like comp before dynamically controlled effects, but I find it just takes a little tweaking to get it to work properly.

    I used to religiously place it last, but my needs have changed so my set up has as well.
  14. AlvarHanso


    Jun 20, 2011
    I've had my compressor last since I've had it, but moved it to the beginning of the chain last week to try it out there, and just found volume spikes happened later in the chain. What I love about the compressor last was that it evened out the sound for me, so I replaced it at the end. I'm happy with that. Of course, that's my experience, anyone else's may be very different.
  15. M Sterling

    M Sterling Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 23, 2010
    Pittsburgh, PA
    A very good case for putting it last.
  16. alec


    Feb 13, 2000
    Perth, Australia
    I don't get that bit...
  17. M Sterling

    M Sterling Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 23, 2010
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Well, I guess it's a little more like, I like the way dirt pedals respond to a compressed signal more than compressing the signal after it hits a fuzz or od pedal. When I go for super synthy type sounds, I usually put some compression after the entire chain.
  18. alec


    Feb 13, 2000
    Perth, Australia
    I'm an idiot. I was just reading it the wrong way round.
  19. madmachinist


    Dec 28, 2008
    i use an alesis 3630 or a digitech bass squeeze , depending
    on the instrument , and what other devices are in the signal
    chain .

    BBE sonic maximizers that i've used were ok for getting 'big"
    tubby sounds out of a practice amp(peavey minx,etc)
    but on a powerful amp( QSC,Crown,etc) they turn my sound to
    a sizzly-boomy mess - which is ok if you are playing solo -
    but forget about being heard through a live band's mix .
    ( which i find ironic, since bbe claims they add "punch" -
    i find they typically make my bass sound too hi-fi and un-punchy)

    i like gates on loud bass guitars - a teeny bit to quiet hiss
    when muting /rests , or cranked up to get a percussive
    muted effect . no right or wrong if it fits the song.
  20. Fiset

    Fiset I do a good impression of myself

    Jan 13, 2007
    New York
    I agree with all of this and use my compressor first for those reasons as well as the ever popular "I tried it first in the chain and just liked my tone better" reason. :)

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