Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by nismaniac, Aug 14, 2011.

  1. nismaniac


    Feb 21, 2005
    OKC, OK
    I am in need of a compressor pedal and after reading numerous posts and reviews it seems like these are probably the ones that will suit my needs best.

    I will be using it in an always on situation. I'm just looking for a mild smoothing out of my tone and I don't slap. I use effects some of the time and usually a very mild overdrive from the pork loin is always on.

    Some people say the Aguilar might impart a slight mid bump where the MXR is more transparent. I also read that the Aguilar has more flexibility with the ratio settings. I can't buy both and A/B them so if any of you have, I would appreciate your thoughts.
  2. jmattbassplaya

    jmattbassplaya Supporting Member

    Jan 13, 2008
    Tampa, FL.
    Honestly, at that level of compressor it really just comes down to personal preference. I haven't tried the MXR but it has gotten some great reviews so far - as has the TLC in the past.

    I own the TLC and can say that it is very transparent. Another guy has mentioned a slight high mid bump, but I haven't noticed it myself. Bongo has also said that it's incredible transparent (in an almost clinical sense), so I'm not sure if what he's experiencing is do to that one particular pedal or what.

    If you're looking for a pedal to smooth out your tone, provide even volume between notes and strings, and add some clarity and 'life' to your notes, then the TLC should be right up your alley. That's what I use mine for and I absolutely love it :)
  3. I think I'm the only one who noticed any coloring of my sound with the TLC and the coloring is slight. Perhaps I'll have to edit my review of the M87 to reflect that....

    IMO the TLC does add some clarity and "life" to your notes as jmattbassplaya stated. That's what drove me to keep the TLC on my board over the M87. That ability to give my bass added presence really works well with my Mesa Walkabout. I didn't get that same effect from the M87. It was more tube like in it's feel if I may say. If I was still gigging with my Eden or SWR rigs every week I'd most likely go with the M87 as I feel they have plenty of clarity and attack already.

    You can't go wrong with either really.... The M87 is still a hot item now as is the TLC. Your chances of finding a used M87 is not good but TLC's come around from time to time. If you buy the M87 new and feel you don't like it (I can't see why) you'll be able to sell it for close to new prices and not loose much.
  4. I edited my review to better reflect what I found with my TLC vs M87.
  5. chessrocks


    Aug 8, 2011
    The TLC has a lot more versatile / useful "attack" control, so it can help you dial in more definition and "punch," for lack of a better word. Whereas the MXR doesn't give you that level of control, and is more useful as a peak limiter.
  6. RichSnyder

    RichSnyder Always groove.... Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2003
    Columbia, Md
    I only briefly played the TLC in the store and didn't really like it. I'm much happier with the M87, but I like compression "you can hear". If I could Tony Levin "bwap" in a pedal, I'm be so happy. Which reminds me the bongo suggested the Jaques Fatburner. Need to give that a try.
  7. scottfeldstein

    scottfeldstein Supporting Member

    Jun 20, 2011
    West Bend, Wisconsin
    I haven't had the opportunity to play either of these, so I'm at the mercy of other reviewers. However, I knew I wanted a compression unit and was trying to decide between them. I finally decided on the MXR simply because it has a row of LEDs that serve as a meter. I figure this will help me dial in the level of compression I want much more easily. Given the choice, I always want a visual on what the device is doing to accompany what my ears tell me.
  8. Gadgetjunky


    Aug 9, 2011
    I was at the same decision about compressor pedals as you. I really just wanted a limiter mainly and liked the idea of the meter on the M87, so I got one and so far it does exactly what everyone says. I guess the biggest difference is the ratio setting, but simple works for me. I do Like the 'input' and 'output' settings on the M87, maybe someone can explain that difference a little more.
  9. nismaniac


    Feb 21, 2005
    OKC, OK
    Thanks for all the great input, it really is helpful. I know it's kind of a repetitive question, but a lot of times you get little tidbits of new info that make all the difference. Muthafunk, thanks for clarifying your review, it was already very helpful but now it's even better. Both compressors seem pretty evenly matched but since this will be my first foray into using a compressor on a regular basis, it seems like the LED meter on the MXR might be the deal breaker. I guess it's kind of a comfort thing. Hopefully as I gain experience and develop a "taste" for compression I can explore other options down the road. I appreciate all the helpful responses!
  10. The 'input' is the level that your bass in input into the pedal relative to the fixed (M87) threshold for when the compression action will begin. Many comps work like this. Others label it as 'threshold' but they effectively do the same thing. In other words you will use the 'input' control to set roughly how much of your signal will pass through the compressor before it will do it's thing.

    The 'output' is typically used to make up the gain reduction of the compression action. i.e. if you find that at your preferred settings you're typically seeing roughly -5 db gain reduction on the meter, you'll probably have to raise the 'output' knob up 5 db to achieve unity gain again. The output is used to correct for the compressors gain reduction.
  11. Gadgetjunky


    Aug 9, 2011
    Sorry, I was concerned I wasn't clear. I meant the difference between:

    M87 - input/output
    TLC - Level

    Update: my bad, you did.
  12. M87 input = TLC threshold
    M87 output = TLC level
  13. redhed


    Oct 25, 2009
    I don't know about the MXR, but the TLC is probably the best pedal I've ever bought! Always on in my rig and couldn't live without it.....
  14. nismaniac


    Feb 21, 2005
    OKC, OK
    I'm so torn...seems like both are really great and have small subtle differences. Seems like the meter is a plus on the MXR and the Aguilar has more adjustment as far as the ratio is concerned. Both are quality brands as well...

    Thought I was ready to pull the trigger on the MXR but couldn't go through with it. I guess I'm still trying to decide. My luck by the time I do make a decision, a third option will pop up and make it even worse!
  15. boomertech

    boomertech Frank Appleton Supporting Member Commercial User

    Apr 8, 2009
    Syracuse, NY
    Designer/Owner of FEA Labs
    One thing that isn't that subtle between the two is the difference in attack times.

    M87 = 20uS - 800uS
    TLC = 10mS - 100mS

    The MXR's slowest setting is still approx. 10X faster than the TLC's fastest setting. The MXR is much better suited for limiting if that is what you are looking for.

    Edit: Sorry, I missed chessrocks post. But these specs really backup his statement.

    frederic b. hodshon likes this.
  16. stflbn


    May 10, 2007
    I always find posts that (and i've done it myself) comment "I haven't heard ******, but I think you should buy what I bought it's GREAT."

    Humans are such fickel creatures.

    Personally? I've had both the TLC and MXR, and I'm using the MXR. But I cannot accurately compare the two because I didn't have them at the same time. I did however A/B compare the MXR to an FEA SMX, and the MXR won out "for my needs".
  17. nismaniac


    Feb 21, 2005
    OKC, OK
    This bit of info might really help me with my decision. This is where my lack of understanding about compression comes in. I guess I need to know whether I need something better suited for compression or limiting.

    Basically I play mostly finger style with a very mild OD on all the time. I use a pick on a few songs and step on a Bass Big Muff. I use an envelope filter and a Bass Micro Synth on a couple songs as well.

    Overall my tone and volume stays pretty consistent throughout the gig. My main reason for adding comp was to help even out my highs and lows and to keep the filter pedals within a reasonable sonic range. I would probably keep the comp on all night and would like to just set it and forget it.

    With that said, am I looking for more of a limiter or compressor?

    I'm having fun learning about compression and again, I appreciate all the great help and advice from everyone!
  18. stflbn


    May 10, 2007
    By highs and lows do you mean volume or frequencies?

    If frequencies you should look at a dual band compressor which would allow you to dial in the low and high frequencies seperately which is a nice function. Just not part of the MXR or TLC. The FEA Compressors do provide dual band functions.

    I wish TC Electronics would release the Tri-band compressor from the RH450 heads as a standalone with some tweaking abilities.
  19. boomertech

    boomertech Frank Appleton Supporting Member Commercial User

    Apr 8, 2009
    Syracuse, NY
    Designer/Owner of FEA Labs
    A limiter by definition, is a high ratio (usually infinity:1) and has a very fast response. Compressors with high ratios like 20:1 and are very fast can also function as limiters. This is why the MXR can function as a limiter, but that does not mean that’s its only use. The lower ratio settings will allow you to keep more of your natural dynamics, but the compression will always be very fast (aggressive).

    As chessrocks has stated above, the TLC will be slower on the attack and allow more of the initial note dynamic to “punch” through. A slower attack can have a more laid back feel to it.

    All I can suggest is to try them both with your rig to see which one is a better fit for you. I know this isn’t much help, but having this extra bit of information while you audition them may be helpful. A side-by-side comparison will be your best friend. Use your ears without looking into the MXR’s mesmerizing meter, otherwise you will be completely powerless. ;)

  20. dairyman3833


    Aug 19, 2010
    Im not allowed to say really.
    Also instead of using a pedal, go for a rack mount compressor.
    Uad La3a sounds amazing on Bass, it brings your tone right to the front as well.

    I wouldn't waste the 200$-$300 on a cheap pedal compressor. It will probably do more harm than good!

    Hell for that much you could get a dbx 160xl and have your bass sound HUGE! But I am super picky bought my tone.