Embarrassing MXR M87 bass comp question...

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by Bassmike62, Aug 14, 2016.

  1. ... But here it is. Hopefully it's the compression learning curve taking effect... ha.

    Got the unit new from a local shop yesterday. The unit seems to be working well, lights up when plugged in and I can see the change in tone when I toy around with the output, ratio and input knobs, but I can't feel anything different when I move the attack and release knobs around. IZZAT normal ? Or is it supposed to be that way ?

    Also, gotta thumb the strings fairly strongs to get the meter to light up, so that's telling me I've got a light touch... right ?

    Current settings: ratio 4:1. attack 8:30, release 3:30, input 2 oc and output 11:30. Probably important to know that my previous comp was a LMB-3, that I used for the last 4-5 years. I havent' tried it with my amp yet, only with headphones through a Yamaha StagePass 500 console.
  2. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Inactive

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Is your volume on your bass all the way up? Do you play very lightly? It can't compress the signal much if there isn't much to compress.

    Totally guessing here based on what you said. Good luck figuring it out. More knowledgeable people than I will swing by any second.
    Bassmike62 likes this.
  3. boomertech

    boomertech Frank Appleton Commercial User

    Apr 8, 2009
    Syracuse, NY
    Designer/Owner of FEA Labs
    The MXR attack times go from really, really, really fast to just really fast. So you may not hear very much change with the attack control.

    If you have to hit your strings fairly hard to get the meter to read a reduction, then you may need to increase the input level.

  4. anavar


    Oct 10, 2013
    my bass tone can beat up your dad's bass tone.
    i hammer my strings and i can barely get the meter working (with high output basses). i can hear the compression affect and the tight low end response but the meter may as well not be there.

    i have heard defective models are on the market and they do pop up on occasion, Bongo touched on it in his onvilabs review.
    Bassmike62 likes this.
  5. Orion1985

    Orion1985 Supporting Member

    May 4, 2010
    Grass Valley, CA
    In my experience the attack knob has very little effect on the sound. I am able to tell what the release knob is doing though. A fast release will stop the gain reduction as soon as the signal drops below the threshold and a long release will gradually release over time based on the setting. (Fun fact, this is the first time I have written or typed the word threshold in my life.)
    jmattbassplaya and Bassmike62 like this.
  6. XLunacy


    Nov 28, 2013
    I noticed in another thread that you said you used someone else's settings to start with (marloweDK's if I remember correctly).

    This is mostly fine, BUT the input has to be adjusted to your specific signal chain, as it is highly dependent on the output of your bass, and determines when the compressor kicks in ; for starters, try increasing it so that the LEDs light up more often and reaches the -10dB gain reduction LED when playing hard, just to be able to see it working.

    Now release will be easy to witness : with release fully counter clockwise, notice how the gain reduction locks in position for a short period of time, and then goes back to 0dB.

    Attack on the other hand with be difficult to hear : try recording something with Audacity or another similar software and observe the waveform at the 2 most extreme settings ?

    Finally, please read this : Compressor and Audio Gear FAQ
    hopwheels and Bassmike62 like this.
  7. Bassie82

    Bassie82 Guest

    Jun 10, 2016
    You should crank the input up until the led meter becomes alive imo
  8. I remember reading that, probably in Bongomania's website, but never thought it would be that fast ☺.

    I also have heard the same and ended up buying mine new, in part because of that. Could still be a defective unit though. The shop has the Studio model ready for me, in case I wanna change.

    Lolllll. Thx for the input, I'll go back to it with fresher ears this evening.

    Correct for the settings ☺. Both my basses are passive, with the T-Bird's Gibson pick-ups having a hotter output. I'll try this this evening, thx.
  9. jmattbassplaya

    jmattbassplaya Supporting Member

    Jan 13, 2008
    If you haven't, take time to read the owners manual. It explains a lot of tiny but important tidbits that will help you operate the pedal, with perhaps the most important thing being how to set your input. If your meter isn't lighting up then you need to increase the signal you're sending it and/or increase the input knob.
    Bassmike62, climber and hopwheels like this.
  10. xroads


    Nov 6, 2012
    Increase the input level. I play passive basses as well, and my input is at 2 oc. With this, I only
    pinch off the peaks of my signal (i.e. the LEDs only light up when I slap/pop or play very heavy).
    If you want stronger compression, you need to increase the input.
    Bassmike62 likes this.
  11. In order to check the effect of the attack know, I'd recomend to play in such way that the attack of the note gets accentuated (like pickstyle, slap or playing staccato close to the bridge). That way, I find it much easier to hear when the attack is set too fast and is "muffling" my tone (for the lack of a better definition ;)).
    karla684 and Bassmike62 like this.
  12. kurth83


    Mar 28, 2016
    With my passive bass I had to front-end the MXR M87 with an MXR M80 preamp, then I could get enough signal where it would compress.
    Bassmike62 likes this.
  13. ddnidd1

    ddnidd1 Supporting Member

    The slowest attack on the M87 is 800 MICRO (not MILLI) seconds - super fast.
  14. SirMjac28

    SirMjac28 Patiently Waiting For The Next British Invasion

    Aug 25, 2010
    The Great Midwest
    +1 you have to find a happy medium between your input and output levels because you probably already know the higher the input usually means the higher the noise level. Frank any chance of a Growler reissue? :)
    boomertech likes this.
  15. MultiScaleMale

    MultiScaleMale Columbia, MD Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2003
    Yeah, I thought the MXR was too finicky and flipped it fairly quickly. The compression seemed subtle at best.
  16. jmattbassplaya

    jmattbassplaya Supporting Member

    Jan 13, 2008
    I personally love mine. I do run my input fairly high on it, but it runs clean and without noise.
    Bassmike62 likes this.
  17. solarfly

    solarfly Supporting Member

    Jul 30, 2016
    Did you follow the initial instructions for setting up the compressor to detect your input at "normal playing" between 3 to 5 lights on the meter, with all knobs starting at 12:00? I have to adjust the input on mine every time I change my bass pickup balance (eg. shifting from neck to bridge pickups on my Jazz Elite produces less volume and the compressor won't respond until the input is adjusted accordingly). Similarly, flipping from passive to active or changing basses to another one may require an adjustment to input and the final volume for unity gain.

    That said, I'm still playing with my settings. I like to run the compressor in 4:1 and apply it lightly to my MXR Envelope pedal. It's tough to find the perfect combination and sound though, with so many options! And when I use my new head, which has a compressor built in, it's a whole different ball of confusion :)
    Bassmike62 likes this.
  18. boomertech

    boomertech Frank Appleton Commercial User

    Apr 8, 2009
    Syracuse, NY
    Designer/Owner of FEA Labs
    No plans for a new Growler at this time. Thanks!

  19. Doner Designs

    Doner Designs Steve Doner Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2012
    Metro Chicago Area
    Doner Designs is an alias for Steve Doner
    I play with a light touch and even with the gain on max it doesn't do much. I sometimes put it after an EQ pedal and give it some additional gain.
    Bassmike62 likes this.

  20. Thanks for your replies, this helps me a great deal. I've not quoted everybody, but did take notes from just about every post.

    I did read the manual about setting up the input at a level generating 3-5 leds, but I honestly didn't believe I had to crank it up that much. Since most comments I'm getting also point in that direction, I'm now cranking the input at 3 oc (all other knobs at noon with the ratio set at 4:1) and am getting in the 3-7 leds area, but I have to play fairly hard (for me). And 2 other things: (1) this tells me I'm a light player, which I had not really paid attention to and (2) my American Standard Jazz's output is low.

    @XLunacy : lesson learned as for using another player's settings :). Also, I still can't feel the difference, but I'm now seeing the Led's behaviour. So at least, I now know my unit is not defective.

    @Wito :as for the attack, I think I can feel the muffling with the knob set @ 3 oc, does that make sense ?

    All this also tells me that I have still much more to learn about compression and will have to invest more time than anticipated with this pedal, if only to justify to myself how much I paid for it. Interesting challenge for a mostly-set-and-forget guy :).
    karla684 likes this.