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

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by scubaduba, May 21, 2018.


  1. cavemanbass

    cavemanbass

    Nov 5, 2010
    The best $100 I spent on a compressor was for the Ampeg Optocomp. Sounds great, but not like a Cali. I have both and get more use out of the Ampeg due to size and power requirements.
     
    geolikezik and chechunka like this.
  2. FirewalZ

    FirewalZ

    Aug 14, 2014
    S.E. Michigan
    Same..I had a Diamond but wanted something that would work oon an active Stingray and/or when i wanted less coloring, so I grabbed an Opto Comp. For the price it certainly is a great grab and go compressor.
     
    geolikezik and chechunka like this.
  3. cosmicevan

    cosmicevan ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Supporting Member

    Feb 1, 2003
    New York
    EBS loyalist here...for probably about 15 years. Is there better out there? Probably, but that part of my chain (first) is pretty perfect for what I look for (and yes, I use tubism).

    If I try something else, will I change? Most certainly...but so far, I've been able to control myself when it comes to compression
     
    GentProvocateur and chechunka like this.
  4. chechunka

    chechunka Supporting Member

    Apr 18, 2009
    Do you find it noisey thru a DI?
     
  5. chechunka

    chechunka Supporting Member

    Apr 18, 2009
    Well done bass compressor comparison video to contribute to the rabbit hole:

     
    Jason Hollar likes this.
  6. cosmicevan

    cosmicevan ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Supporting Member

    Feb 1, 2003
    New York
    No. I have a fairly old black label one.
     
    chechunka likes this.
  7. Drkwdsman@yahoo

    Drkwdsman@yahoo Supporting Member

    Dec 3, 2004
    Birmingham
    Anyone try a Walrus Deep Six? I read Scuba’s review just checking to see if you guys use one or have used one.
     
  8. adamajah

    adamajah

    Oct 9, 2017
    DirtyDuke, Jim C, scubaduba and 5 others like this.
  9. scubaduba

    scubaduba Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Dec 23, 2003
    Michigan
    Thoughts on the Becos CompIP Mini One Pro Compressor:

    The folks at Becos in Romania are back at it again with another new compressor pedal. This time, a more simple-to-use mini compressor for those either not needing a lot of controls or preferring less knobs to mess with. But this is no dumbed-down device. No, its a great little compressor that functions well and still includes a five LED gain reduction meter and dry/wet mix parallel compression option.

    IMG_0747.JPG

    I am pretty fond of the Becos CompIQ MINI Pro Compressor reviewed earlier. I said it "may be little, it is not short on features. The team at Becos managed to cram a whole lot of versatility into a small form factor." While the Becos CompIQ Mini One doesn't have the same features under the hood it is the same Blackmer® VCA type compressor with FET active circuitry and WIMA audio capacitors. Basically the exact same circuit, just without so many controls.

    There are three knobs and one push button on the face of the compressor. There is also an inside trimmer. More on that later.

    IMG_5127.JPG

    The Ratio knob sets how much the audio signal is going to be compressed after it passes above the set threshold. It shares the same continuous range as the Mini Pro starting from 1:1 (no compression applied) to Infinite:1 (basically limiting). At 9:00 you are roughly in the space of 2:1 ratio. At noon, more like 4:1. At 3:00 things are pretty squishy at around 10:1 ratio. The full range is useable and at higher settings makes for a pretty good limiter.

    The Gain knob is there to make up the gain as you increase compression. As is expected, the higher you turn the gain, the more noise is introduced to the signal. Adjusting wet dry mix (small knob adjacent to footswitch) can help mitigate added noise. It is not an overly noisy compressor, but it is definitely not as quiet as others on the market. There is plenty of gain on tap.

    The Wet Dry mix dial mounted on the right side on the top of the pedal adjacent to the foot switch and allows you to blend as much or little of your clean signal with the output compressed signal. In the middle, the mix is 50/50. When set to 100% dry (all the way counter clockwise), the CompIQ Mini One Pro acts like a buffer. This is a very useful design and I really like the dial set between noon and 1:00. I'd say there is enough variability in the range to satisfy anybody.

    IMG_5121.JPG

    The Sense button is a type of threshold control. It controls the level at which the compression is applied. Compression is only applied to the portion of the signal that goes above the threshold. There are two preset levels. Switched down is the Lo setting fixed at -40dBu and is suitable for very weak instrument signals. In this setting the signal kicks in immediately. The Hi setting is user controlled by a trimmer inside the pedal with a range of -40dBu to +10dBu. (See picture below showing red trimmer dial in upper left.) With the inside trimmer set to noon it is 30dBu. The Hi setting is more for higher output instruments. I much preferred how the compressor reacted and felt in the Hi setting with all 5 of my basses. But if you have a very weak passive bass, the Lo setting might be just what you need. I would personally rather have an exterior Threshold dial but for the target audience I bet most will never touch the inside trimmer. However, if you do you will be met with a lot of control. It's a trade off. Less dials on the outside, but at least you can manipulate the threshold to some degree.

    IMG_4690.JPG

    There is no control of attack and release timing. The Mini One Pro offers dynamic processing of attack and release timing. This means that short transients are handled with faster timings, while steady signals get slower timings. It works well as it reacts to your playing dynamics. The timings are approximately 10-15ms for attack time and 200-220ms for release time. Attack time is the amount of time it takes before the compressor kicks in. Release is the amount of time the compressor takes to "let go", or return to normal audio level.

    There are many other compressors on the market that handle attack and release this way including the Keeley Bassist. That brings up a good point. In many ways the Becos Mini One Pro has a lot in common with the Keeley. Differences include the fact that the Becos trades a Threshold dial for a push button and internal trimmer. But you also get a 5 LED gain reduction media that is far superior to the Keeley Bassist's single LED. The Becos also adds the comprehensive Dry/Wet signal dial. The Becos is also smaller. Both have an inherent transparent quality.

    The Mini One Pro has a soft compression knee which means it has a subtle application of compression.

    IMG_3139.JPG

    This isn't a compressor that is going to impart some sort of flavor or coloration to your tone. It is not a "tone magic" device but does a great job of subtle compression all the way to harder limiting action. Like the previous Becos compressors I reviewed I didn't notice any loss of highs or lows. I had no issues with any of my basses and never had concern about headroom.

    Did I miss the amount of controls of the Becos CompIQ Mini Pro (notably the full Threshold Knob, Soft vs. Hard Knee control, and Attack/Release timing switch)? Yes and no. For what it is, the Mini One Pro is a remarkable little tool. I personally like having more control of threshold as I use many different basses. On the other hand, I suspect the target audience is more the set-and-forget crowd. I've really come to like this one. Its simplicity is its strength.

    IMG_1946.JPG

    If you are considering the Keeley Bassist, the Becos CompIQ Mini One Pro is also worthy of your consideration. The Mini One Pro is well built, looks great, and performs well. It doesn't really make your tone bigger or fatter but it does compression really well.

    The footswitch is true bypass.

    The pedal operates with a voltage of 9 - 12 VDC but there is no noticeable difference running at 9 volts vs. 12 volts. Using a barrel longer than 12mm will work much better with Becos compressors.

    The retail price of the Becos Mini One Pro $156 which is priced similarly to the Becos Mini Pro at $168 which has more controls. Both are a tremendous value. Hey, sometimes simple is better.

    Here's a Becos Family Photo.
    Note: The photo shows the Mini Pro prototype prior to inclusion of the Timing switch which is now standard on all shipped.

    IMG_3186 2.JPG
     
    jdc866, geolikezik and wmmj like this.
  10. Killens84

    Killens84 Supporting Member

    Sep 3, 2008
    Mississippi
    @scubaduba, would you still say the Smoothie is your top choice for an every-day, all-around compressor? I’ve tried the Diamond, FEA DE-CL, Cali76-CB, Whirlwind OC, and the Hyper Luminal, in addition to my Smoothie Opto. For one reason or another, the Smoothie comes out on top every single time for me.
     
    scubaduba likes this.
  11. bradtv

    bradtv

    Jun 11, 2019
    It’s going to be a long wait until November for my Smoothie purchase....
     
    scubaduba likes this.
  12. jebmd

    jebmd Gold Supporting Member

    May 4, 2009
    Lothian, Maryland
    I’ll certainly concur that the Smoothie is an all around great comp for my needs. I also like the Keeley and use it as well. Other folks MMV.
     
    bdplaid and scubaduba like this.
  13. deepestend

    deepestend Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 21, 2003
    Brooklyn via Austin and NOLA
    Guitar/Bass Builder and Social Media at Sadowsky
    I have to say that I’ve kind of gone full circle on comps. I now feel like the boost function was more what I was chasing than the compression and am now on more of a boost chase. Anyone else?
     
    berman3313 likes this.
  14. scubaduba

    scubaduba Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Dec 23, 2003
    Michigan
    You've tried a lot of great compressors. There are so many great options these days, but I would say the Smoothie is one impressive device.
     
  15. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    I usually don't use comp, but when I do I prefer subtle shades*. My favorite technique is to use parallel compression (wet/dry blend). When set right it allows dynamics/transients to come through, but also provides a nice sumthin' sumthin' that improves how I sit in the mix: isn't really noticeable until I turn it off. Parallel isn't mandatory for subtle comp, but I find it easier to use for that.

    I've always considered boost a very different thing. For me, subtle comp is always on, whereas boost would be temporary for solos, louder passages. I get it, some leave boost always on to add warmth (heat up preamp tubes, push a gain stage harder), but I haven't yet found a use for just boost.

    Those are my preferences, not saying they're superior in any way. Why boost and not comp? Just curious.





    *Every so often I'll use less subtle comp for phat/vintage tones... McCartney, Jamerson, etc. I generally don't leave this always-on.
     
    deepestend, Low Down Brown and jebmd like this.
  16. deepestend

    deepestend Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 21, 2003
    Brooklyn via Austin and NOLA
    Guitar/Bass Builder and Social Media at Sadowsky
    I’m in a little bit of an experimental phase right now. While I 100% conceptually believe in a comp. I’m finding that now that I have one with an indicator (keeley bassist), I’m not actually engaging the actual comp that much. And that’s gotten me to thinking...maybe I always liked the tone fattening/warm aspect of the boost side of the pedal. So, why not use the keeley just as a boost? Doesn’t feel warm enough to me. So...down the rabbit hole. But maybe I need to experiment with blending my comp by putting a boost beforehand for color.
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2019
    Fuzzbass likes this.
  17. Cracker7

    Cracker7 Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2016
    Saratoga Springs NY
    What you need is the Southampton Ictineo. You’re welcome

    Sorry folks, back to comps
     
    DirtyDuke and 40Hz like this.
  18. mmbongo

    mmbongo Five Time World Champion Supporting Member

    Aug 5, 2009
    Carolinas
    I've been perusing these great Rick Beato videos lately and this one...combined with the fact that I'm a huge Rush freak....explains why I love the Diamond Bass Comp.

    If I had to explain what the Diamond sounds like, it would be this:
     
    sonofshel likes this.
  19. kesslari

    kesslari Groovin' with the Fusion Cats Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2007
    Santa Cruz Mtns, California
    Lark in the Morning Instructional Videos; Audix Microphones
    I played a MultiComp for a long while (and didn't use it for a while, too). I got a Doc Lloyd. When I A/B'd them (tubesim on the Multicomp) I liked the Doc Lloyd a little better, plus it was quieter. But not at all a dealbreaker - if I hadn't read @scubaduba 's thread and hadn't changed I'd been no less happy with my sound.
     
  20. egarcia

    egarcia

    Dec 14, 2017
    I've just bought Becos Compiq Mini Pro Compressor, it will arrive mid august. Will try it and share my bass world newcomer thoughts about it.
    Here you have a 10€ coupon they send me to share: Home
     

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