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Good compression? But not Multi FX.....

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by VS, Jun 19, 2002.

  1. VS


    Jun 6, 2002
    Mountain City, Tennessee
    Discounted Gear: Peavey
    What would you suggest for good compression,but not a multi effects processer. Thanx,Luke
  2. Tsal


    Jan 28, 2000
    Finland, EU
    EBS MultiComp is good, but they're expensive too, around $250 or something.

    I heard many people use Danelectro Surf&Turf as a budget compressor pedal. It's one of their mini-pedal series and should be around 50-70 bucks.
  3. What about that Akai Hexa-comp? Anybody know anything about that one? It's frequency specific which is what you'd want for sure.

  4. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    That is the coolest thing I have seen in a long time. The design concept is absolutely perfect. Anyone here ever actually play one?

    I read a short release on it HC, but the Akai website is in German. Meine Deutsch is sehr schlect.
  5. Nails


    Jun 4, 2000
    Austin, Tejas
    I've heard good things about the FMR Audio RNC 1773. RNC stands for Really Nice Compressor, so by name alone it can't be a bad compressor. List is around 200, check it out at www.fmraudio.com.
  6. BryanB

    BryanB Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Retrospec Squeeze Box.


    'Nuf said!
  7. Is that EQ knob just a tone control or is it really a freq. specific compressor?
  8. BryanB

    BryanB Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    It's not like a tone control in that it doesn't just roll-off the treble.

    Here is a description I just sent to a fellow TB'er:

    $495 retail

    PAUL WHITE revs up his valves and zooms off to see the big Squeeze.

    When it comes to vintage compression, the two main elements required for an authentic sound seem to be opto gain controls and valve circuitry, both of which are combined in the Squeeze Box. Designed to look like a guitar player's stomp box, complete with foot bypass switch, the mains-powered Squeeze Box is actually a combination of a tube DI box and an opto-compressor, with a little EQ thrown in for good measure. Sadly, the budget didn't stretch to vintage knobs, so, instead, four distinctly modern plastic knobs perch on a rather plain white box that wouldn't look out of place in an operating theatre.

    The tube-amp section provides up to 20dB of gain, and the 2M(omega) input impedance means that passive guitars and basses can be plugged directly into the unit. Outputs are available on both unbalanced jack and balanced XLR; the XLR is recommended for low-impedance or otherwise difficult loads. The jack will interface happily with guitar amps or most console insert returns.

    Virtually no details of the compressor circuit are provided with the unit, other than that it's based around an optical gain-control circuit, presumably utilising a photocell and lamp arrangement. Controls are kept to a minimum, and the compressor attack and release characteristics are preset. Other than the power switch, there are just four knobs plus an EQ in/out switch: the Out knob acts as the output make-up gain control, EQ offers top cut in one direction and a slight brightening in the other, Comp-Lim appears to set the compression ratio and Threshold sets the level at which compression starts. There's no metering, but an LED above the Threshold control shows when compression is taking place. A traditional footswitch puts the unit into active mode, and a further LED above the Comp-Lim knob illuminates when the processor is engaged.

    The Squeeze Box is obviously designed to be used both as a guitar/bass DI processor and as a studio compressor via console inserts, so I tried both. What becomes apparent almost from the moment you switch on is that this box wasn't bred for subtlety! Its lack of a gain-reduction meter makes studio use a little hit and miss but, being fair, this is a compressor you'd use as an effect, and in that context you'd probably want to set it up by ear. Used with electric guitar, the unit can give both chorus and single-note work that obviously compressed 'ping and sustain'. The further the compression knob is advanced towards limiting, the more heavy-handed the processing becomes, and if you combine limiting with a low threshold setting, the sound gets really slapped about. In fact, on high settings, the gain moves about so much that it almost sounds as though you're playing through an amp with a mutinying tremolo.

    Used on previously recorded material, the box works very well on bass guitar, especially if you like a very 'slammy' sound; again, though, you must take care not to go too far, because the degree of pumping can be disturbing. Even vocals take on a nice lift, but here the threshold setting is very critical -- there's only a very small angular movement between having no compression and having too much. There are hard-knee compressors and soft-knee compressors, but I think that this one qualifies as 'knee in the groin'! Admittedly, heavy-handedness is a characteristic of early opto compressors, but I'd have liked a slightly more forgiving control system.

    If you like your compression so that you can hear it, this is a box you have to check out. For those Kate Bush or Phil Collins vocal sounds, where the level almost flinches, this is the box for you, and the same is true if you want to really tread on your bass and guitar sounds -- but if you're just after a subtle means of keeping your levels under control, this isn't the one. The EQ seems mainly to offer treble cut; for guitar and bass purposes, though, that can be very useful.

    Personally, I wouldn't want to use this as my only compressor: it simply isn't flexible enough, and it's rather too easy to make it pump (especially on mixed material). But if you already have one or two more conventional compressors, this might be the one that you bring out of the cupboard when the client just wants to hear 'more'. It's probably most useful as a guitar/bass DI box, and in that capacity it's quiet and smooth-sounding, with the advantage of compression when you need it.
  10. A tube doesn't have anything to with that...and THAT(IMO) sounds like a nightmare! Ick...compressed, muffled, non-existent bottom with a loud abrasive top, laser beaming itself into every audience members head whenever i pull a snap or dig in? No thanks.... The best compressor I have heard to date is the one mounted in my Mesa M-2000 with its frequency knob that will allow me to compress the entire signal or favour a tighter top...or a tighter bottom. It's optical based and sounds like buttah.
  11. VS


    Jun 6, 2002
    Mountain City, Tennessee
    Discounted Gear: Peavey
    Looks sweet,any comments? -Luke
  12. BryanB

    BryanB Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    The Retrospec Squeeze Box is a tube driven photo-optic cell based compressor. It is based on the Urie 1173. (A very highly sought after piece of vintage studio equipment.) No, it is not muddy at all. Crappy compressors sound muddy, this is not a crappy compressor. The top is not loud and abrasive. It is sweet tube. If you want to hear how it sounds, let me know I will send you an mp3 file.
  13. I'm not debating it's tube "sweetness"....just that something that squishes my low end and leaves my high end open and prone to "spiking" is most certainly less than useful. I need a bit of soft compression on the top with a wide open bottom. Buy yourself a cab with a sharp roll-off if you want "tight" bottom
  14. BryanB

    BryanB Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mad Subwoofer -

    I think you are missing the point. The top is not left uncompressed, just less compressed. The top doesn't sound choked as it does with most compressors. The reason why most compressors sound choked on the top is because the compressor reacts to the peaks at the bottom more than the peaks in the tops of the harmonic series, but it compresses the whole range equally. This can leave your top end sounding very dull. That's why there are multi-band compressor, like the Akai mentioned above.

    Here is a quote from the manual for a Behringer DSP9024, a 6 band compressor:

    The Retrospec Squeeze Box does this naturally. Like I said, if you want to hear it for yourself, I will send you a copy of a demo song.
  15. I'd rather the lows were left untouched while the highs were compressed.
    My point is...there needs to be more units frequency-specific adjustability. Sometimes a tight bottom may be desirable (although I sure as heck wouldn't want that) and sometimes a tight top. You find the TE stompbox or the Rane rackmount offering this...not many others. My Mesa optical compressor with it's adjustable freq. knob is bar none the finest I've heard. Lucky me....lucky you and your Retrospec.
  16. Does any body have any experience with the Tech 21 bass compactor? I just got a sansamp bass driver and I REALLY like it. Just tought i'd try their compressor too.
  17. ahpook


    Jul 13, 2001
    if you can get hold of one, the trace elliot smx dual compressot is nice - seperate controls for high and low freqs.

    they turn up on ebay now and again.
  18. jondog


    Mar 14, 2002
    NYC metro area

    I use the hexacomp and like it. I do not have any experience with the expensive compressors people listed, so my opinion might not mean much. I like it better than the comp built into my ART phatboy, Ibanez UE, GK MB, and my Boss CS-2. The boss cuts all the lows but sounds great on guitar. The akai is like an eq/comp combo. It does not give you nearly as much control over threshold etc. as a rack comp. You just get one slider for comp and another for level. It fattens up my tone, so I leave it on all the time. It is quiet. There's a thread on 'em somewhere, do a search.

  19. DanGouge


    May 25, 2000
    If you really want frequency control, buy a rack unit with an insert and run a 32-band eq in the insert. Of course that's probably more work than it's worth...
  20. jondog


    Mar 14, 2002
    NYC metro area
    An eq in the insert might be cool, but the selling point for the hexacomp, and the TE, and a few others, is that you can have *different* levels of compression for different bands ofu the frequency range. With an eq in the insert you would still get the same level of compression to your entire (eqed) spectrum. To get this option in a rack you could buy a crossover and send the lows to one side of the comp and the highs to the other. This would allow you to finetune compression for the 2 bands independently. The hexacomp has 6 independent bands.

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