[I consider it CLOSED] FEA DE-CL problems: insist or resign? .......

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by mbrancalion, Mar 9, 2019.

  1. Dear friends bassists,

    i'm no more a gigging bassist, and i usually play electric bass in my own tracks at home, together with other instruments, and such.......
    Anyway, recently i had a growing desire to investigate, for the little that i need, on some pieces of bass gear...... preamps, eqs, and compressors.

    I got hooked in the few reviews and videos i saw of the DE-CL. In particolar due the favorable review by Ovnilab (not the only one) i decided to order one unit from the builder.

    Anyway, the unit arrived 9-10 days ago, and i'm trying since to tweak and use it for recording. Without success.......

    My problem, short described is this:
    i have always too much compression/limiting in the lower strings (more low frequencies content) and too much little in the higher strings. I'm at the point of having squashed lower notes, and almost through-passing higher notes, especially most dinamic ones (like pops).

    I play through an FMR RNP preamp, with also a Speck equalizer in the loop, besides the compressor. I tried to use the compressor in front of the preamp, or in the loop: alone, or after the eq, or before the eq (this seems the best solution of all).
    I used at least 4-5 basses, five or four strings, actives or passives.

    I've tried everything for days, nothing solves it. It's actually unusable, for me.

    I've tried also to not look at leds, and to use only my ears, or to look at the results. Nothing prevents squashing the lows, but high spikes pass through. In my opinion, the attack of the limiter is not quick enough, and it's evident when recording.

    I exchanged several emails with the builder. He's very quick at replying, but all of this was not much useful. He wrote me that the sensing circuit has some lows boosted, so it's more sensitive to low strings. I replied that i'd find logical to do the opposite (some compressors have an HPF filter in the sensing circuit for this).

    He adviced me to use an eq in front for rolling some lows, and an eq post compressor, for "restoring" lows after presenting less lows to the compressor. I replied that it's an absurd and inappropriate way of solving this problem.

    After he adviced me to use another compressor and wished me "good luck", i decided to persist some other time with trying to solve the problems, but frankly with today i'm really done............. When i substituted the DE-CL with my DBX 160A, having a difference like night and day in the recording track, i really decided to solve or sell quickly.

    Return the item to the seller for a refund is an option that anycase makes me loose money: I live in Italy, and anyway i had to pay around the 25% added to the costs+ship, so it's a bit on the expensive side to get. The VAT+doganal costs won't be returned to me anycase.
    So, if i don't find a solution i'll quickly sell the compressor in Italy or Europe.

    I'm very disappointed for this purchase, maybe the most unlucky one of my musical life.
    Maybe i should have read before the many threads in TB about selling the DE-CL. There will be a reason for this.

    So, any observation? help? advice on the subject?

    Many thanks in advance,
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2019
  2. sunbeast

    sunbeast Supporting Member

    Jul 19, 2006
    Los Angeles, CA
    It sounds like you purchased a pedal that functions the way it was designed/intended to function, but not the way that you would personally like it to function (FEA makes some options with sidechain EQ/FX loop that can help change the response of the compressor to different frequency bands, but that isn’t a specialty of the DE-CL obviously).
    I assume you have tried some of the settings ideas on the Ovnilab site? I’ve not tried the DE-CL (I do have an Opti-Fet) but have used other suggested bass compressors with similar behavior (stronger response to low-frequency peaks). I personally prefer this action in my setup to keep the accentuation of notes, but don’t use limiting via pedals much to record (only software).

    Experimentation is a part of the process of finding which of the MANY available options of anything work for your personal needs and tastes. It is a shame that it is such an expensive loss for you, but maybe you can do as we all do on here and trade it to someone else for a new toy to experiment with...
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2019
  3. Jim C

    Jim C I believe in the trilogy; Fender, Stingray, + G&L Supporting Member

    Nov 29, 2008
    Bethesda, MD
    I have a DE-CL that I use with a Pbass and an active Lakland.
    It works very well and as pointed out by sunbeast, it is doing what it's supposed to.

    I recently asked in the compressor thread how many preferred freq. dependant compression and no one replied.
    I would like to try this style; just not sure which comp is the right one.
  4. DDXdesign

    DDXdesign formerly 'jammadave' Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 15, 2003
    If you bought it directly from FEA, I wonder if there is any option to trade it out for the DB-CL model which is specifically two compressors in one that can be set individually for low and high bands. If Frank didn't offer that there must be a good reason (like maybe he doesn't make that one anymore, or maybe it doesn't work the way I think it works); he seems like good people from all his posts here on TB though.
    HolmeBass likes this.
  5. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011

    I didn't see that thread. IMHO, having the compressor key of EQ peaks can sound and feel a bit unnatural. I prefer running EQ after compression. Ironically all of the bass amps and preamps I own with built compressors place them after the EQ, which I think sorta sucks.

    Sounds like the DE-CL has some low frequency pre-emphasis built into the side chain; a bit more than the OP wants.

    I watched the following YouTube video and the DE-CL model sounds fine to me; I don't notice any excessive low frequency pre-emphasis in the side chain :confused:. It is possible that a mistake was made in assembling the compressor that is exaggerating the pre-emphasis too much. Selecting a wrong component value such as a resistor or capacitor could cause this.
  6. HoochfromP

    HoochfromP Supporting Member

    Jan 14, 2013
    I was not satisfied at all by my DE-CL, and had only squishy tones with it, until i found out that the ratio knob was working in the opposite way than most comps. Low ratio at 3pm, high one at 9am. Maybe yours works the same way ? Mine is a first gen DE-CL.
  7. It's not my case.
    But also using the limiter alone (compressor's threshold set to not trigger) the lows are more squashed.
  8. To the others who replied (thanks for the replies):

    this behaviour, the compression that works more in the low frequencies, was not present nor described in any online resource i had browsed very carefully, as far as i know.
    It also wasn't described in the builder's website, nor in the paper manual that came with the compressor. It was only the builder who wrote me about it.

    Now, if i had known it before purchasing, i'd have never even considered it.
    So, it does not seem a very serious form of informative sale.
  9. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    I know a little bit about compression but have never had the DE-CL in front of me. I did refer to the authority on compression and found myself reading it 3 times just to wrap my head around the design and application(s):

    FEA DE-CL Dual Engine Compressor Limiter

    I use a HPF (~40 hz) in front of my compressors to tame the low end generated squash.

    Jim C and hintz like this.
  10. As i said in my original post, it was this exact review that made me consider the DE-CL as a good buy.
    Wrongly, i have to say ...
    Zooberwerx likes this.
  11. scubaduba

    scubaduba Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Dec 23, 2003
    It sounds like you would really benefit from a dual band compressor like the FEA DB-CL. Of the FEA product line the DB-CL is my favorite. Don’t be discouraged by the many knobs. Those dials allow you to set the right amount of compression for low and high and then blend between the two.

    Another option to consider would be the Cali86 CB or even the Darkglass Hyper Luminal where you essentially have adjustable HPF to define what low frequencies will trigger the compression.
    BurningSkies likes this.
  12. For the reasons exposed above, it's unpratical to return the DE-CL to the owner, i will sell it locally, hoping to not loose too much.
    Regarding other FEA products: i won't even consider to buy any other of them without testing before (practically impossible).
    Maybe the Optiflex would suite me much better, but i should have known before......

    Regarding the Cali or others choices, i will consider them, thanks.
  13. Jim C

    Jim C I believe in the trilogy; Fender, Stingray, + G&L Supporting Member

    Nov 29, 2008
    Bethesda, MD
    Other than these 3, can I assume that the EBS Multi-Comp had the same idea but a bit dated performance wise (assuming much older technology)?
    Also, can you describe how the Photon Death Ray uses ""human ear sidechain" for frequency selective compression? The idea sounds intriguing but I just can't grasp as to what the curve mibght look like.
    I'm assuming some predetermined alogrhythm based on the non-linearity of hearing?
  14. I own an Ebs compressor since many years. It does not work at all as a good limiter. And mine has the clipping problem that not all units have. I lowered the threshold (internal trimmer) but now sound is more squashed.
  15. thumbslapper

    thumbslapper Supporting Member

    Dec 12, 2007
    San Francisco
    Marco -

    I'd suggest trying the Cali76 Compact Bass compressor - that has a high pass filter that works as a EQ sidechain going into the trigger which makes the compressor less sensitive to lower notes. Turning this up would make your low notes to come thru louder.

    I actually started with the Cali76 and then bought the DE-CL - they are both high end compressors that sound great, but I liked the warmth and the compressor & limiter features of the DE-CL and thought the Cali76 clouded the high end of the bass, but i did love the mix and the HPF features on the Cali76...

    Frank (of FEA) makes great products & is held in high regard here in TB, but not every product suits everyones style. Compressors are the hardest to review and pick, because in my experience until you are playing in a band scenario with everything cranked you really don't know if the compressor is working right.

    Wasnex likes this.
  16. Really, as i said in my original post, anyway, i was in eventual search for advices on usage or "thinking upon" the existing DE-CL .......
    So, should i resign? ....... ;)
  17. MattZilla


    Jun 26, 2013
    this made me laugh out loud
  18. Jim C

    Jim C I believe in the trilogy; Fender, Stingray, + G&L Supporting Member

    Nov 29, 2008
    Bethesda, MD
    Consider this:
    Every player likes different tones, uses different gear, etc.

    Perhaps, there is a sub sonic low freq bump that we can not hear, but it does exist.
    I'm talking really low freqs below the fundamental.
    A great way to solve this is to use a HPF (high pass filter) that allows all the freqs through except for those below the cut of frequency.
    Basically, eliminating very low freqs that you may not hear in order to keep these freqs from triggering compression so much earlier than wanted.

    Another thing that can happen is using and equalizer before the compressor to add low freqs (audible or not).
    You are then adding low freq energy right before the compression.
    I would always advice using compression first in the change, right out of the bass, before further processing.

    Here's a good example.
    I have a SWR amp that has no low freq roll off and can generate sub sonic low freqs in a heartbeat as there is very little if any HPF protection.
    I'm not aware that a standard P bass has THAT much low freq or sub sonic energy.
    But, when I put an HPF between the bass and the amp (with the dial set at about 60 Hz.) the tone is thick and full and without mud.

    The Series 3 unit made by a board member, can really fix problems.
    HPF-Pre, updated December 16, 2018 - hpftechllc

    Another thing to consider is are you using and an activce bass with the low freqs boosted and then dropped at the amp? This would cause the same issue. Try using a flat bass EQ with a flat amp EQ to see if this helps.

    Also the gear you are using and the type of music might help with advice.
  19. Jim C

    Jim C I believe in the trilogy; Fender, Stingray, + G&L Supporting Member

    Nov 29, 2008
    Bethesda, MD
    While it isn't normally suggested I think that Frank was tring to help sort out the problem.
    This is a valid trouble shooting test.
  20. I'm pretty sure i have no exaggerate low end. I hate extreme lows. I always, besides listening through studio monitors, look at frequency scopes in my DAW.

    I actually often do the opposite: i roll off some lows from my active basses, or from my G&L bass with the hipass pot.
    I have always used quite flat sounds in the bass and in the preamps.

    I tested the DE-CL with a 5strings Barnes luthiery bass, with a very open and not boomy sound (Bartolini K pickups and Bartolini TBIBT preamp, D'Addario XL strings), a 5strings Barnes fretless bass (Delano humbucker pickups and Noll preamp, D'Addario XL strings), an American Fender Precision (stock pickups, Cocco stainless steel strings), a G&L Climax (unknown strings), an Ibanez Musician fretless (split pickups with passive electronics, old D'Addario strings).

    Typical examples of my bass sound (not with DE-CL):

    Last edited: Mar 10, 2019
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

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