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Markbass compressore and Empress comparison

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by Wxp4759cb, Nov 4, 2013.

  1. Wxp4759cb


    Nov 23, 2000
    Kansas City, MO
    Hi all, hopefully this hasn't been asked before, but a search didn't turn up any direct comparisons.

    I recently picked up a markbass compressore. I generally play a 1975 Fender Jazz through a Aguilar Tone Hammer 500 and Aguilar GS212. I like some of the sounds I can get out of the mark bass. The slap sounds is great, and I can get some pretty good thump on slower rock or funk type stuff.

    My concern is that it seems like it might be a bit dark/muddy when I am playing fast passages - especially when playing faster jazz tunes in the middle of the neck. I'm sure that the fact I am playing through a somewhat dark/lowmid bump head and cab amplify this. I think the markbass might sound great through a more modern sounding head/amp, but I'm wondering if it is a bit overkill with my current setup. It could also be that I am not using optimal settings on the mark bass perhaps.

    I've read some good things about the Empress, but do not have any nearby that I could test out. I'm also drawn to the led gain monitoring, as sometimes I have a hard time telling exactly how much the mark bass is leveling the signal.

    I'd like to find a compresser that can even out my slap playing like the mark bass, but can also be more of an always on compresser without muddying up faster lines.

    Has anyone compared these pedals head to head that could give me some advice? One concern I have about the Empress is there is no threshold control. Has that been an issue for anyone?

    I still have a few days left on my return period on the mark bass. Thanks for any input!
  2. Wxp4759cb


    Nov 23, 2000
    Kansas City, MO
    One other thing that might be relevant - I almost always find myself boosting the high mids on the tone hammer to cut through even without the compressore engaged.
  3. Adamixoye

    Adamixoye A PT Pro is cool for worship, right?

    Apr 9, 2012
    Occasional Beta Tester for Confusion Studios, Singular Sound, and Source Audio
    Well, someone is going to tell you to check out http://www.ovnilab.com, so I'll say that before anyone else does. I don't know if the two are compared directly, but it's basically the best compressor resource on the internet.
  4. Wxp4759cb


    Nov 23, 2000
    Kansas City, MO
    Thanks for the link. Definitely a great resource. I've read the review on both in the past, which is partly what drew me to the Empress. I understand they are both great units, but am just unsure whether a switch away from the mark bass would assist with some of what I perceive to be muddiness in my setup.

    Edit: A large part of what drew me to the mark bass was the true tube compression. The tone hammer is the first head/pre I've had in a long time with no preamp tubes. Perhaps I was suffering from "tube lust" but I'm wondering if the tube in the mark bass along with the tube emulation in the aguilar is just to much low mid umph.
  5. Adamixoye

    Adamixoye A PT Pro is cool for worship, right?

    Apr 9, 2012
    Occasional Beta Tester for Confusion Studios, Singular Sound, and Source Audio
    You say the Empress has no threshold control, that's not true, the "input" affects the threshold.
  6. BFunk

    BFunk Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    I played an Empress for a couple of years. No real experience with the Markbass except to try out a friend's. I really liked the Markbass. Definitely has a lot of attitude and color. Almost aggressive IIRC. I don't remember it being dark. The Empress is very transparent. The parallel comp feature is very nice and effective. I ultimately found the Empress to be too clean. Currently, I am sporting a Cali 76 and I am thrilled with it. More attitude than the Empress, but less colored than the Markbass as I recall.
  7. depalm

    depalm Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2004
    I own and use both (Empress and Compressore)

    Never felt any kind of muddiness with mine. Have done several hundred recording sessions and live gigs always with good results.
    It adds color and warms up my tone in a really nice way. But I wouldn't say it's "old school" tone.

    Empress is another kind of compressor. Transparent and a bit "hifi" compared with MB. I like it a lot in spite it lacks color.

    Have you noticed a big difference in your tone when you take the MB out of signal chain?

  8. gastric

    gastric Professional product tester for hire

    Jun 8, 2009
    Raleigh, NC
    Source Audio BETA tester
    If anything the Mark Bass tends to make the higher frequencies more obvious by attenuating the low end a bit, at least with my pedal.
  9. Wxp4759cb


    Nov 23, 2000
    Kansas City, MO
    I played around with the mark bass some more tonight, and I think muddy was probably the wrong word. As some have indicated, I think it just adds more color than I would like in my current set-up. I think I am going to return it tomorrow, and order an Empress to compare since the reviews indicate it might be more transparent. I might also check out the aguilar tlc since bongomania describes it as "clinical." Guess it can't really get more transparent than that.

    I appreciate everyones input!
  10. BFunk

    BFunk Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    I definitely think you will find the Empress more transparent. Tha parallel compression thing is actually really cool.
  11. smeet

    smeet Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 27, 2006
    Woodland Hills, CA
    You might also try out a Diamond bass compressor. Not as much control as the Empress, but it sounds great. If it gets you what you want, the fewer controls might actually be an advantage for ease of use.