New compressor time. help.

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by offworldjosh, Jun 14, 2019.

  1. offworldjosh


    Jun 14, 2019
    Hey all, long time reader, first time poster.
    I've watched hours of demos, read every ovnilab review multiple times. Now I turn to personal experience.

    Most of the time I'm playing heavy rock, death metal and metalcore. I play fingerstyle, and sometimes playing 16th notes I'll lose attack velocity that I want to make up for a more consistent sound. I know the answer is I should just practice more but I'm still looking for a little help on top :)

    I first used the Boss CS-3: noisy and dip-swelled too easily.
    Then Keeley Bassist: I never felt like it was doing nearly enough.
    Now Maxon CP9 Pro+: much nicer, but same issue, it just feels like it's not doing enough.

    The three im chasing my tail on: Darkglass Hyperluminal vs MXR Studio/Bass vs Boss BC-1x.

    I definitely want full metering display.

    The Origin Cali76 CB is also heavy on my mind, but I don't like that it's $100 more and doesn't have a full meter display. I'm willing to be persuaded toward it though.
  2. KohanMike

    KohanMike Gold Supporting Member

    I have a few bass ukes that have unbalanced volume string to string. I've replaced the piezo pickup assembly on a couple and modified the pickup on a couple, but neither worked on a couple of others, so reading about compressors that balance louder and softer notes, I bought a Kokko mini compressor. I don't find the balance to be different, just the volume and the background noise.
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2019
  3. DarkStar90


    Feb 4, 2008
    After going through a similar situation last month, I ended up going with the Empress Compressor. Its transparent sound, features and controls sold me. Having a sidechain input is quite handy. You can put an eq or hpf in the sidechain for better bass response or take a line from the kick mic signal to trigger a ducking effect for clarity. It also has a blend knob, led metering (input, gain reduction or both).

    Overall, its a really transparent compressor capable of multiple applications. Empress even makes a 500 series version for studio rack applications. If you are after some character, I found that slightly over compressing in the 10:1 ratio while blending a 50/50 signal with the mix knob gave me a sound similar to my Boss CS-2, which I always loved for certain things.

    I upgraded from the MXR compressor which was starting to annoy me. I found it sterile and not as transparent as MXR would have you believe. It also wasn’t the quietest, though not intrusive. The input control, on mine at least, was sometimes a pain to dial in. I found its metering inaccurate. Its only 50$ more for the superior Empress which has similar controls plus more.

    The hyperluminal is not something im interested in because I don't believe in pedals with ‘firmware’. Dependency on computer interaction to get it to do what I want is not something I wished for. Also its unlabeled ratio control is something I may have to concentrate too much on. I like to set it and forget it.

    In my opinion, the Origin comps have a bit to much of a distinct, dense sounding character (they sound thick to me, if that makes sense). They don’t sound like the 1176 they are meant to emulate IMO. An 1176 will add character, but I found them to be fairly transparent most of the time. I found that the Origin pedals exaggerate the aspects of the 1176’s sound to convince you thats its doing something to your tone. No metering, no distinct ratio control and being quite expensive, these were eliminated from my list of choices early on. The real 1176 has great metering via VU meters, why metering is not available on these comps is something I don’t appreciate. I borrowed one for a month and gave it back, satisfied that it wasn’t for me. They are also $100+ More expensive than the Empress.
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2019
  4. hbabels


    Jul 26, 2015
    Phoenix, AZ
    I have the MXR Bass Comp and I think it’s a really good option for what you describe. The controls can be a little tricky to dial in but not excessively so. I find it very transparent with the Basses I use it with most. Spectors with EMGs and a Dingwall NG-2. The meter is nice.

    The examples I’ve heard from the Darkglass Hyper Luminal Compressor make me think it’s a good contender
    I had the the Super Symetry in the past and it was a great unit.

    Also I 2nd the Compressor review thread linked to above. Very good resource.
  5. mmbongo

    mmbongo I have too many basses. Supporting Member

    If you didn't like the Keeley, you most likely will hate the MXR. Imagine the Keeley, only it doesn't sound as good and is annoying to dial in.

    Hyper Luminal is a nice unit, but it's not for the faint of heart. If you don't know much about compression it might not be the one for you.

    If you can do without the full metering, you may like the Diamond Bass Comp Jr. Again imagine the Keeley, only fatter, juicier, and funkier. The Keeley is not really meant to be heard. The Diamond can easily be set to be heard. And there is no dip & swell, which I hate as well.

    I have not used any of the others mentioned so far.
    offworldjosh likes this.
  6. offworldjosh


    Jun 14, 2019
    Thank you for the lengthy reply. I have an 1176KT that I use for vocals and agree it's pretty transparent. I don't know that I necessarily want that for my bass though, I've read some compressors add "pop" (high mid?), and that would be nice. My bass is an '87 Ibanez SR800 and I find I could use more "pop", even completely bypassed. I'm not using any kind of EQ in my chain at all at the nmoment.

    I agree that I'm really not a fan of apps controlling or altering parameters. It's really cool for people into that but realistically im never going to mess with that so it's not a bonus or feature for me. I would use a plugin if I wanted to use my computer.

    Would you say the Empress is a strong and noticeable comp? I wrote it off long ago because I always got the impression it was on the subtle side.
  7. offworldjosh


    Jun 14, 2019
    Diamond is another that wasn't even on my radar, I was under the impression that they wouldn't do enough for me as well.

    It may also be worth mentioning that in the past I was looking for peak limiting

    But I may just need two compressors in my chain, one at the start and one at the end?
  8. DarkStar90


    Feb 4, 2008
    Yes, you can hear the Empress when its engaged. But you’re going to hear more punch in the midrange and a bit of sizzle in the top end via the compression. What it does well is allowing the character of your bass to shine. It’s not adding or taking away anything from your sound, its just bringing out whats already there. Some people go for the comp that adds character like an eq would, with the Empress I think you are just hearing high quality compression. It does have a ‘sound’, but its more in the effect rather than the tone, if you get my meaning. It is indeed transparent, but that doesn’t mean subtle in this case. Using a hpf in the sidechain is a noticeable difference, especially if you hit the low E with a heavy pluck, it tightens it up. I feel this compressor as much as I hear it.

    If you are looking for a distinct character, Empress might not be for you. I find it has its own character in the clean and smooth compression it adds to my bass. I get more character from eq and other pedals, so for me it provides a good signal for getting the best out of those pedals. I keep my Boss CS-2 for a dirtier character.

    If you’re going for peak limiting, the Empress at a 10:1 ratio and slightly over-compressed can be effective if combined with the mix knob to bring back some natural feel.

    I used two comps for a while, one at the beginning and one at the end of my pedal chain. In my experience, while that comp at the end will tame some peaks and fatten the signal a bit, it also softens the the tone and some of that attack needed to be heard in the mix will be absent, especially if placed after my favourite eq’s. It will also make any signal noise more apparent. In the end, moving the comp back to the start of the chain got me a more satisfying tone.

    In response to a previous suggestion for the diamond comp, my experience with it is that its mostly for tone. It has a fixed ratio of 3:1 which can be light for rock. This is the pedal you get for character. Its sounds great on a p-bass, but it is not a clinical comp. Not for tweakers. It would probably be great as a “to tape” comp.
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2019
    Moosehead1966 and ferarayabass like this.
  9. monsterthompson

    monsterthompson The Eighth Note Wonder Of The World Supporting Member

    Nov 25, 2008
    If you were willing to cave in the metering, I’d suggest a Duncan Studio Bass. Well, since I’m posting in the thread I guess I am suggesting it regardless ;)

    The three “dry-blend” options are pretty useful. It’s not a bad price, and they’re easy to come by. They aren’t noisy. The tone is accurate/transparent.

    I’d pass on the DG come based on my experience with their first model. I know the HL has more options. I’m curious about it and willing to be converted to being a believer, but I’m a tad skeptical.
  10. Thumpin6string

    Thumpin6string Supporting Member

    Apr 25, 2013
    Shoals Indiana
    Again, if you can forget the metering, I haven't found a better compressor than the Markbass Compressore.
    HertzWhenIPlay, Omega Monkey and BadB like this.
  11. grillman


    Dec 15, 2014
    Take a look at the EHX Platform. Great metering display and a lot of controls. Reasonably priced as well.
    johnk_10 likes this.
  12. MynameisMe

    MynameisMe What will you be remembered for?

    Dec 31, 2018
    +1 on the Empress. It can be had for $ 219.00 on Amazon. I just bought it.
    I do not have lots of experience with compressors but I have a Preamp DI which will color your music as one of the features. I didn’t want that. I wanted transparency but also a definite difference. The Empress does this for me. I’ve only had it a short time but it is so easy to dial in a good tone.
    I would agree, read the compressor reviews Scuba did.
    Here’s the link: Testing Compressors: Cali, Smoothie, Empress, Diamond, Keeley, FEA, Darkglass, Doc Lloyd, JHS & more
    Moosehead1966 likes this.
  13. Maybe you should take a look at FEA labs compressors. The DE-CL might work for you : separate controls / footswitches for the compressor and limiter circuits, "warmth" knob to make it more or less noticeable, etc. Not full metering, but you have a LED that shows when the threshold is reached. Build quality is superb, too. I have been using their Opti-FET comp for a few years now and I'm extremely happy with it.
    Omega Monkey likes this.
  14. danster


    Jul 13, 2007
    Connecticut, USA
    I have the MXR M87 Bass Comp. After about 6 months, I haven't had any issues with it. Sounds good. Its an always on effect, and I like how it smooths out my sometimes erratic technique.
  15. Eddie LeBlanc

    Eddie LeBlanc

    Oct 26, 2014
    Beaumont, Texas
    Don't create no problem, won't be no problem.
  16. scubaduba

    scubaduba Moderator Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 23, 2003
    Hyper Luminal: Testing Compressors: Cali, Smoothie, Empress, Diamond, Keeley, FEA, Darkglass, Doc Lloyd, JHS & more

    MXR: Testing Compressors: Cali, Smoothie, Empress, Diamond, Keeley, FEA, Darkglass, Doc Lloyd, JHS & more

    Boss: Testing Compressors: Cali, Smoothie, Empress, Diamond, Keeley, FEA, Darkglass, Doc Lloyd, JHS & more

    Of those three, my preference would be the Darkglass Hyperluminal.

    You should also consider the Becos CompIQ Pro Stella: Testing Compressors: Cali, Smoothie, Empress, Diamond, Keeley, FEA, Darkglass, Doc Lloyd, JHS & more
  17. AngelCrusher


    Sep 12, 2004
    Mesa Boogie, Tech 21, Taylor
    The EBS multicomp seems a little slept on. Multiband compression really is the way to go to fill out your bass tone while keeping the lows tightened up. I use that mode and it’s just two knobs to dial up to get compression and volume levels set.

    It’s LED is a meter as well, and is really all you will need. Using a compressor right is all about having the ears dialed in.
  18. I use and love the Keeley Bassist.

    It is pretty transparent and sometimes can actually sound like it isn't doing enough/anything.

    Maybe not for you though.

    I use two comps in my rig, the Keeley as a basic comp, and a second,home built VCA type that is set up for slapping and popping- you can clearly hear it pump and breath at times. it "sounds" compressed or crushed with finger-style, but sounds "like" a compressed slapping/popping studio track.
  19. jthisdell


    Jun 12, 2014
    Roanoke, VA
    +1 for the EBS Multi-comp, very easy to use and nice range of compression. Also +1 for the Bassist but yes, it seems to go from barely there to way compressed. I tend to use mine as barely there,