Looking for my first bass compressor (4 options)

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by CoolMcCoolDude, Aug 18, 2022.

  1. CoolMcCoolDude


    Jul 12, 2017
    Looking for my first bass comp and have reduced it to 4 models…

    1. Empress Bass comp (latest blue one)
    2. Source Audio Atlas
    3. Cali76 (blue one)
    4. Helix floor (all in one alternative)

    I’m looking for the overall best between these 4 units. I use passive and active basses. Need to control my attack since I hit my strings hard. Flea (slap) Geddy Lee/Steve Harris (finger style)

    I like the HPF on the Cali76 but the Empress and Atlas also have cool options.

    I would like to get your opinion so I can start with the right bass comp and build my 1st pedalboard.

    Thanks for your help
  2. tonymcbony


    Mar 21, 2006
    Well, I would rule the Helix out straight away - the compressors are not particularly easy to use (due to no metering on the stomp, and only a line for reduction on the LT and above) and they aren’t particularly bass friendly apart from the opto comp. I desperately wish they would add a few bass friendly comps.

    Atlas is cool if you like menu diving but Source Audio gear is polarising due to the potential option overload.

    Haven’t heard the Cali or Empress in person but I’m looking towards getting the empress due to nice tone shift options.
  3. If your looking to bring in an electron microscope to do your compression on your pedalboard, then good luck.

    If you may have an interest in sounding real nice, have three knobs and know how to set Volume, Blend (dry signal) and Compression. Then I would suggest taking a few minutes to look at the Carl Martin Honey-Comp.

    Carl Martin makes things sound good. Now in smaller pedalboard friendly size pedals.
  4. Derek Williams

    Derek Williams Gold Supporting Member

    May 14, 2020
    Edmonton, Canada
    The Atlas is my pick out of those, but it can also be the most complicated. It can be tuned to be similar to the others, but can also go beyond with more range in its controls, dual compression, and stacked serial compression. It can also be used as 2 separate compressors, so you can have one at the beginning of your chain and the other at the end.

    Regarding the HPF, the Atlas, Cali76, and Empress all have a side chain HPF.
  5. TheLopp


    Dec 30, 2013
    I would actually recommend the Atlas too. It can work as a simple 4 knob compressor and all 6 preset sounds really good.

    As a first compressor I would hook it up to a computer and play around with the settings to see what it actually does with you tone and dynamic, it has excellent visuals to understand what’s going on.

    Hopefully you’ll find a favourite type of compression and you could try others to compare how it competes.

    I’m really happy with mine.
  6. GMC


    Jan 1, 2006
    Wiltshire, UK
    The Atlas would be my pick too, the stock compression choices are excellent. So out of the box it's very usable and a fine array of controls and compression models. There are more options and slightly better patches available if you want to play with it once you're used to the unit and then there's the deep dive that available on the desktop UI if you are interested. I haven't deep dived much on my copy, just a bit of tweaking here and there. I like to keep my compression fairly simple, similar to my Spectrum Filter.
  7. el murdoque

    el murdoque

    Mar 10, 2013
    For me personally,
    It would be a choice between the Cali and the Empress.
    The Cali does a bit of a little something to your tone. It gets pushed a bit more into the direction of fat, warm with rounded off edges. The Empress is a bit more neutral sounding.
    If it was the first comp, I'd go with the Empress. The main reason for that is the metering.
    It is a good thing to see what is going on with your comp, because sometimes the effect is too subtle to hear in a mix.
    JoePP, lomo, HertzWhenIPlay and 10 others like this.
  8. Jefus

    Jefus Does this amp make my bass sound fat? Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2008
    The Cali is the first compressor that I have been absolutely blown away with for bass, to the point that I prefer it for recording bass over my Distressor!

    That being said, I've seen a lot of love for the Atlas so far in this thread, which may be as good as they're saying (I've never tried it), especially if you need different settings for different basses. But once O got my Cali I quit experimenting with compressors because I found the one that works for me.
    Gabbs, jimfist, 31HZ and 2 others like this.
  9. Smurf-o-Deth

    Smurf-o-Deth Nothing to fret over. Supporting Member

    Oct 2, 2007
    The state of denial.
    Don’t get the Helix for compression. The compressors, as mentioned by @tonymcbony, aren’t much to speak of in regards to bass. The other three are all excellent choices, though.
  10. etnoo


    Aug 28, 2018
    of these four I only dealt with Empress but silver one with SC/HP knob - as a 5 string player it's more useful option for me because I can dial precisely in frequencies to be compressed - "This is especially true for bassists playing 5-string bass guitars who do not want the B string to aggressively trigger the compression circuit" - quote from this great review: https://www.compressorpedalreviews.com/post/empress-bass-compressor-review

    If you want very transparent sounding compressor (besides tone knob in blue model/switch in silver one) with lots of functionality, great led metering for better understanding what's going on, I truly recommend this one.

    Good luck!
    scubaduba, lomo and CoolMcCoolDude like this.
  11. klattman


    Jan 8, 2008
    I’m really impressed with the new DSM humboldt one. I like it much more that the cali76 but I don’t really require the HPF that the cali has.
    CoolMcCoolDude likes this.
  12. Nighttrain1127

    Nighttrain1127 Supporting Member

    Nov 27, 2004
    Near Worcester MA
    I Have used a few compressors in my time and the one I would suggest out of the ones you listed would also be the Atlas. No need for menu diving as the factory presets are very good and easy to use, If once you figure out how compression works you decide to make your own presets you can but out of the box there is no real need Plus there are a few more already on the App site.
  13. VitoMB


    Sep 28, 2019
    Quebec, Canada
    I have also been there. We are playing Metallica and Maiden, while I am a huge fan of Rush. I do a hard plucking finger style. No doubt. My choice was the Opti-FET from FEA Labs. It has one of the most powerful 3-band sidechain among other compressor pedals that is absolutely necessary for bass guitar. IMHO.
    Adienn7, gstaats and CoolMcCoolDude like this.
  14. CoolMcCoolDude


    Jul 12, 2017
    Thanks so much for your comments…

    I like a simple… a comp that help me even things up a bit without loosing dynamics but I don’t mind a little tweak ability as well if I need it. Most importantly looking for a comp to leave it on all the time. I do play 4 and 5 string basses.

    I’m looking for the most versatile out of the 3 and only mentioned the Helix floor because I have it already.

    Seems that the Atlas and Empress are favorites but The Cali76 is interesting as well but not sure if it will color my tone too much…

  15. CoolMcCoolDude


    Jul 12, 2017
    That sounds really interesting and I didn’t know it could be done. Is there a video showing this? I prefer simple but this sounds really interesting and most importantly is that I don’t loose my dynamics.
    Please let me know
  16. mmbongo

    mmbongo I have too many basses. Supporting Member

    FYI the Empress and Atlas also have adjustable HPF's.

    I'd say roll the dice and pick Empress, Atlas, or Cali.

    Give Altas the edge if you really want to deep dive with the software. That could also be a reason to avoid it if you want something simple.

    I'll just add that after owning all three of these the winner for me in the end was the Broughton Omnicomp.
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2022
  17. CoolMcCoolDude


    Jul 12, 2017
    Thats was a great review of the Empress comp… Now I have to check the Pecos…

    I like and can relate to what the reviewer is saying and makes it a must try pedal now.

  18. GMC


    Jan 1, 2006
    Wiltshire, UK
    Ha, you can do all this and more with the Atlas. I use mine with a 6 string, so I need to be cautious of the low B and the High C. I have one patch that dials in a transparent Compressor, another dials in a Multiband comp (which is excellent at retaining low end with a different compression setting). I have a further patch that is a tube compressor that puts a huge warm foot print on my bass signal. All at the flick of a switch. I have a Uriel 1176 model, an Orange Squeezer model, a Mark Bass Compressore model, a default Snappy Compressor, several multi band models...and all of them sound fantastic. If you have an empress side by side with the Altas, you could easily make an Atlas model of the Empress and add it to the Neuro Collective community of patches.
    CoolMcCoolDude likes this.
  19. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    Cali76 is great. If you don’t need an HPF, the standard and bass version are otherwise the same.
    Bassist30 likes this.
  20. Ewo

    Ewo a/k/a Steve Cooper Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2008
    Huntington WV
    I figure the choice comes down to your tone goal for the compressor. Some folks want a bit of coloration, some folks want to be able to squash the dynamics entirely, some folks are looking for long sustain, and so on. And folks have different preferences, as to controls: some want a simple set of knobs, some want a knob for each of the standard compression parameters.

    What I wanted from a compressor was to rein in the dynamics a bit, but preserve (in a live setting) my touch on the strings. And I wanted to be sure the low notes on my fivers didn't trigger too much gain reduction.

    IME the Empress Bass Comp and Broughton Omnicomp do the job. Of the two, I have a mild preference for the Omnicomp; it sounds a little more natural and organic to my ear. (Guess I just like an optical compressor a bit better.) But I would suggest you consider the Broughton, also.