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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. Ryan L.

    Ryan L. Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2000
    West Fargo, ND
    Thanks to this thread mainly, I’m now the owner of a brand spankin’ new Cali76 CB. First gig with it last night went great, I really dug the feel it gave to my setup. I’m still in the dialing in phase, but so far I’m loving it. It stayed on for the entire gig last night!
     
    Rich67, jdc866, imabuddha and 2 others like this.
  2. scubaduba

    scubaduba Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Dec 23, 2003
    Michigan
    Thoughts on the Vick Audio R-Comp:

    It is certainly true that Ross style compressors are thought of as noisy compressors, and also on the warm side. While that is true, somehow Vick Audio managed to create a Ross style reproduction that manages to significantly reduce the amount of noise. This two-knob compressor is about as simple as it gets to use with just Level and Sustain dials. I suppose it is on the warm sounding side, yet still neutral sounding. Don't think tube compressor warm or wooly sounding. It is very transparent and neutral.

    I personally found I liked the Sustain dial set around 10:00 - 11:00 for some obvious compression but not overly squashed. The R-Comp is capable of delivering subtle compression but also all out squash if that is your thing.

    Check out my full review here: https://www.compressorpedalreviews.com/post/vick-audio-r-comp-compressor

    IMG_2188.JPG
     
    kesslari and Auspuff like this.
  3. WorktheWood

    WorktheWood Supporting Member

    Mar 27, 2014
    I've been using the Cali76 CB for a couple years now and really like it. I also had an FEA Opti-Fet for about the same length of time. I loved what the FEA does when solo'd but in the mix it was just a little to warm for my liking. I recently got a Hyper Luminal because of all the good things I've read about it. It's very nice and sounds great. I prefer the FET setting and get it to sound very similar to the Cali except for that extra bit of sheen/brightness the Cali adds. I thought I would like the HL better because it doesn't have the enhanced clarity that the Cali has, as solo'd the Cali can be a bit much, but I've found in the mix the Cali just works a lot better for me than the Luminal. Plus, I really love the jazz bass or p-bass tone with the tone control backed off. This works extremely well with the Cali because of the extra brightness. All that to say, the Cali is staying on the board and the Luminal is getting sent back. The HL is very nice and if I didn't have the Cali I'd probably keep it. Though I will say, I hate the form factor of the HL. I don't like how small it is. I wish they would've made it a bit bigger/longer and had top mounted jacks. The power input is in a terrible place.

     
    imabuddha and Ryan L. like this.
  4. Btbp

    Btbp

    Mar 2, 2008
    Everywhere at once
    I'll add to the others to also say the site looks great. Do hope you continue to post here.
     
    scubaduba likes this.
  5. Auspuff

    Auspuff Supporting Member

    Sep 24, 2019
    SoCal
    IMG_3035.
    Well, I gone and jumped into the pool (or, is it an Ocean?).

    This is the first-ever pedal I have tried, and though it is for a guitar, the price was right, being it was lent to me to mess around with, to see what one of these boxes can do.

    Effects: A whole new World...
     
  6. scubaduba

    scubaduba Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Dec 23, 2003
    Michigan
    Cool! Enjoy that thing. Here’s my review of the Wampler.
    https://www.compressorpedalreviews.com/post/wampler-ego-compressor
     
    kesslari, PeterH and Auspuff like this.
  7. scubaduba

    scubaduba Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Dec 23, 2003
    Michigan
    Thanks! Oh yeah. The posts will continue.
     
    tedsalt and GentProvocateur like this.
  8. scubaduba

    scubaduba Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Dec 23, 2003
    Michigan
    For those new to the thread, here’s the complete list of reviews so far.

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

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

    BBE Optostomp: Testing compressors: Cali76 CB, Smoothie, Keeley Bassist, FEA Optifet, Seymour Duncan Studio Bass

    Becos CompIQ Pro One Mini: Testing Compressors: Cali, Smoothie, Empress, Diamond, Keeley, FEA, Darkglass, Doc Lloyd, JHS & more

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

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

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

    Boss BC-1X Bass Compressor: Testing Compressors: Cali, Smoothie, Empress, Diamond, Keeley, FEA, Darkglass, Doc Lloyd, JHS & more

    Broughton Apex: Testing compressors: Cali76 CB, Smoothie, Keeley Bassist, FEA Optifet, Seymour Duncan Studio Bass

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

    Cali CB vs. Smoothie Suave Optical:Testing compressors: Cali76 CB, Smoothie, Keeley Bassist, FEA Optifet, Seymour Duncan Studio Bass

    Cali76 CB and fretless: Testing compressors: Cali76 CB, Smoothie, Keeley Bassist, FEA Optifet, Seymour Duncan Studio Bass

    Few more thoughts on Cali, Smoothie, and Keeley: Testing compressors: Cali76 CB, Smoothie, Keeley Bassist, FEA Optifet, Seymour Duncan Studio Bass

    Carl Martin Comp/Limiter (2018 edition): Testing Compressors: Cali, Smoothie, Empress, Diamond, Keeley, FEA, Darkglass, Doc Lloyd, JHS & more

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

    Darkglass Supersymmetry: Testing compressors: Cali76 CB, Smoothie, Keeley Bassist, FEA Optifet, Seymour Duncan Studio Bass

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

    Diamond Bass Compressor JR: Testing compressors: Cali76 CB, Smoothie, Keeley Bassist, FEA Optifet, Seymour Duncan Studio Bass

    Doc Lloyd Photon Death Ray: Testing compressors: Cali76 CB, Smoothie, Keeley Bassist, FEA Optifet, Seymour Duncan Studio Bass

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

    DryBell Unit67: Testing Compressors: Cali, Smoothie, Empress, Diamond, Keeley, FEA, Darkglass, Doc Lloyd, JHS & more

    EBS Multicomp: Testing compressors: Cali76 CB, Smoothie, Keeley Bassist, FEA Optifet, Seymour Duncan Studio Bass

    Effectrode PC-2A: Testing compressors: Cali76 CB, Smoothie, Keeley Bassist, FEA Optifet, Seymour Duncan Studio Bass

    Effectrode LA-1A: Testing Compressors: Cali, Smoothie, Empress, Diamond, Keeley, FEA, Darkglass, Doc Lloyd, JHS & more

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

    Empress: Testing compressors: Cali76 CB, Smoothie, Keeley Bassist, FEA Optifet, Seymour Duncan Studio Bass

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

    FEA DB-CL (Dual Band Compressor/Limiter): Testing Compressors: Cali, Smoothie, Empress, Diamond, Keeley, FEA, Darkglass, Doc Lloyd, JHS & more

    FEA DE-CL (Dual Engine Compressor/Limiter: Testing Compressors: Cali, Smoothie, Empress, Diamond, Keeley, FEA, Darkglass, Doc Lloyd, JHS & more

    FEA OPTI-FET: Testing compressors: Cali76 CB, Smoothie, Keeley Bassist, FEA Optifet, Seymour Duncan Studio Bass

    Fermata (Xact Tone Solutions): Testing compressors: Cali76 CB, Smoothie, Keeley Bassist, FEA Optifet, Seymour Duncan Studio Bass

    Forest Green (Mad Professor: Testing Compressors: Cali, Smoothie, Empress, Diamond, Keeley, FEA, Darkglass, Doc Lloyd, JHS & more

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

    G-Lab BC-1 Boosting Compressor: Testing Compressors: Cali, Smoothie, Empress, Diamond, Keeley, FEA, Darkglass, Doc Lloyd, JHS & more

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

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

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

    J Rockett I.Q. Compressor: Testing Compressors: Cali, Smoothie, Empress, Diamond, Keeley, FEA, Darkglass, Doc Lloyd, JHS & more

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

    Lightning Boy Op-2: Testing Compressors: Cali, Smoothie, Empress, Diamond, Keeley, FEA, Darkglass, Doc Lloyd, JHS & more

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

    MXR M87: Testing Compressors: Cali, Smoothie, Empress, Diamond, Keeley, FEA, Darkglass, Doc Lloyd, JHS & more

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

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

    Pulp 'N' Peel (JHS): Testing Compressors: Cali, Smoothie, Empress, Diamond, Keeley, FEA, Darkglass, Doc Lloyd, JHS & more

    Pigtronix Philosopher Bass Compressor Micro: Testing Compressors: Cali, Smoothie, Empress, Diamond, Keeley, FEA, Darkglass, Doc Lloyd, JHS & more

    PWNZOR (3Leaf): Testing compressors: Cali76 CB, Smoothie, Keeley Bassist, FEA Optifet, Seymour Duncan Studio Bass and Testing compressors: Cali76 CB, Smoothie, Keeley Bassist, FEA Optifet, Seymour Duncan Studio Bass

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

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

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

    RT Electronix Multiband Compressor JR: Testing Compressors: Cali, Smoothie, Empress, Diamond, Keeley, FEA, Darkglass, Doc Lloyd, JHS & more

    Seymour Duncan Studio Bass: Testing compressors: Cali76 CB, Smoothie, Keeley Bassist, FEA Optifet, Seymour Duncan Studio Bass

    Smoothie OTA vs. Smoothie Optical: Testing compressors: Cali76 CB, Smoothie, Keeley Bassist, FEA Optifet, Seymour Duncan Studio Bass

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

    Strymon OB.1 Bass Edition: Testing Compressors: Cali, Smoothie, Empress, Diamond, Keeley, FEA, Darkglass, Doc Lloyd, JHS & more

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

    Taurus Tux MK-2: Testing Compressors: Cali, Smoothie, Empress, Diamond, Keeley, FEA, Darkglass, Doc Lloyd, JHS & more

    Thorpy FX The Fat General: Testing Compressors: Cali, Smoothie, Empress, Diamond, Keeley, FEA, Darkglass, Doc Lloyd, JHS & more

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

    Vick Audio R-Comp: Testing Compressors: Cali, Smoothie, Empress, Diamond, Keeley, FEA, Darkglass, Doc Lloyd, JHS & more

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

    Wampler Ego Mini after time in store: Testing compressors: Cali76 CB, Smoothie, Keeley Bassist, FEA Optifet, Seymour Duncan Studio Bass

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

    The Warden (EarthQuaker Devices): Testing Compressors: Cali, Smoothie, Empress, Diamond, Keeley, FEA, Darkglass, Doc Lloyd, JHS & more

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

    And the shootout continues!
     
  9. WorktheWood

    WorktheWood Supporting Member

    Mar 27, 2014
    I borrowed my guitar players Wampler Ego a year or so ago and thought it sounded great on bass. I played a few gigs with it and really liked it.


     
    Low Down Brown and Auspuff like this.
  10. Auspuff

    Auspuff Supporting Member

    Sep 24, 2019
    SoCal
    Funny you mention that.

    Just screwing around with this thing, for a few hours, I am getting some amazing tones.
     
    Low Down Brown and tedsalt like this.
  11. Auspuff

    Auspuff Supporting Member

    Sep 24, 2019
    SoCal
  12. Stan_da_man

    Stan_da_man

    Aug 29, 2006
    UK
    What would you recommend to someone who is after a compressor that gives a small amount of boost to your signal, keeps your dynamics relatively intact and refrains from colouring your tone?
     
  13. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    Basically any transparent compressor set to a moderate ratio and attack setting, and a relatively quick release. Dial in the sensitivity with the threshold control.

    But if you just want some uncolored boost with minimal effect on your dynamics, why use a compressor? A clean boost pedal would be a less expensive and easier way to do it.
     
  14. superheavyfunk

    superheavyfunk 音楽は人生だ

    Mar 11, 2013
    Toronto
    What happened to the Joe Meek review? You've had that one in the stable for some time now
     
  15. egarcia

    egarcia

    Dec 14, 2017
    BECOS compIQ?
     
    berman3313, Auspuff and 600 Ohms like this.
  16. @Stan_da_man

    I'm not the expert here, can't argue with sound advice such as "a clean boost", but my Cali76 big box Standard can do what you seek, as well as an Empress. I'm sure there's many other recommendations that could be made...
     
  17. smeet

    smeet Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 27, 2006
    Woodland Hills, CA
    I’m sure the big box Cali76 is amazing, but for that kind of money it would have to make me a mighty tasty breakfast. :D
     
    tedsalt likes this.
  18. jacoby75

    jacoby75

    Mar 11, 2010
    Coldwater, MI
    Endorsing Artist: Mike Lull Custom Guitars, DR Strings
    Got a chance to play out with the Saffron Squeeze this morning. It was an interesting study in contrasts. On the one hand, I was really unhappy with my sound most of the set. And yet it was the first time that the church sound guy, who is also a bassist, said I sounded really good. But I’m not sure what to attribute that to. Not only did I add the Saffron, I also replaced my Tech21 VTBassDI with a Southampton Ictineo, using the VTDI only as a passive direct box for FOH and running into the effects return of the stage amp. In addition, I played my Yamaha BB1025x for the first time, replacing the Lakland jazz that I’ve used for the past couple of years. So the perceived improvement to my tone by the sound guy could be due to any or all of those factors.

    But I will say this, as it pertains to this forum. Despite liking the Saffron better than the Accountant in some ways when using it in my headphone rig at home, once I got the chance to use it live today, I feel like it totally robbed me of my low end thunder. That might be good in some respects, as it tightens up the overall sound, but when I wanted to go to the low B for those powerful moments in worship songs, it did not have the same dramatic impact I am used to where it shakes the room. Time will tell if that’s a good thing or not. But I think next time I play I’ll go back to the Accountant and leave everything else the same, and see how that feels.
     
  19. mmbongo

    mmbongo Five Time World Champion Supporting Member

    Aug 5, 2009
    Carolinas
    Keeley Bassist. Transparent, keeps your dynamics, but also give you a little compressor magic as well.
     
    BeauZooka likes this.
  20. Jim C

    Jim C Is that what you meant to play or is this jazz? Supporting Member

    Nov 29, 2008
    Bethesda, MD
    Mini Compressor Review
    Becos Compiq Mini, Smoothie, Bassist, FEA DE-CL, Duncan Studio Bass, MXR 143 (80’s red box / AC cord)

    This is non-scientific, VU meter and ear driven, quick review of several well-known compressors. As if you grabbed it out of your gear bag, quick knob adjust, and let’s play.

    Since this is meant as a grab’n’go compressor review, I won’t dwell on coaxing “tone magic” out of each of these pedals. I’ve owned the MB Compressore, Diamond, and have now tried the Smoothie. It all sounds like an EQ change to me. I’ve spent years developing my tone and I’m not interested in changing it based on these compressors. You may feel entirely differently about this. No foul / no harm done. Of course, a huge caveat is that was not “gig conditions” just an acoustically neutral room and two compressor-lovin’ bassists.

    The FEA does have a “warmth” control which add “harmonic richness” which is the same as saying distortion (IMO).
    In my view, anything that change the original wave form is a form of distortion so one could make a case that “tone magic” = distortion, which is not a bad thing.
    The control is useful for warming up a super clean or strident amp but not used by me as I like my amps just fine.

    The other disclaimer is that the ratio was set at 4:1 (or as close as we could tell), with the intent being light general limiting to help a bass line sit better in the mix. Somewhere in the 3 to 6 dB reduction range.

    Basses used were a Lakland 4401 and a 72’ and 73’ P bass through a f’Deck HPF first in the chain. (We also tried a Broughton HPF and could tell no difference between the two).
    Amps were either an Ashdown ABM 500 or SWR SM400 through a GB NeoX 2x12 cabinet.
    Reviewers were me and @berman3313 from this board.

    FEA DE-CL – Great box that I have owned for a year or two, but it has not been used for a while.
    There are a lot of adjustments available and it can be frustrating especially if you change basses, genres, or gain structure as the threshold setting can be touchy.
    For this test, we were looking for a setting where the threshold was reasonably stable for different playing styles. When you find this sweet spot (for yourself) it is a very clear and transparent box. We intentionally did not get into the limiter section to keep the test fair.
    Even for a former recording engineer with at least 10,000 hours behind the glass, this box can be frustrating if you haven’t done your homework before the gig.
    Bottom Line – Clear, transparent and not super easy to dial in without some patience

    Keeley Bassist – It just flat out works and is easy. It never sounds bad, however, there was a slight darkening of tone (we disagree as to how much). Nothing that would get you into trouble, but not as transparent as the other compressors. This could also be a good thing.
    OTOH the LED is way too bright and the threshold control can be touchy with some basses (especially low output). For these reasons, I won’t buy one, but I can see how many might.
    I’m not spending $200 for a box that has a light so bright that it needs to be covered with tape. Shame on the manufacturers that cater to "bright lights for kids".
    Also didn’t care for the threshold indicator; which worked OK, just not a precision visual instrument, considering that you might be up on a brightly lit stage, beers flying this way and that.

    Smoothie – Good sounding compressor, nice adjust-ability but too much baked in EQ change for me. I don’t need/want an EQ adjust, be it tilt or otherwise. A very pro box for those that want this sort of thing though. If you wanted a bit of tone magic, this might be the box for you. The LED threshold indicator works a little better than the Bassist too.

    Duncan - is another box I’ve owned for a couple years with nice clean compression
    For us, the attack control does very little. It sounds good but the controls are nowhere close to the tunable range of the Smoothie. The lack of a threshold indicator makes this a good unit for those that don’t care but is no longer a top tier comp for us. Kinds of a one trick pony but a decent one at that.

    MXR 143 – A dinosaur with an AC power cord. The attack and release controls are very musical and work well. No threshold indicator and rather large. But it sounds really good. I still grab this one from time to time as with threshold, attack, and release at about 12:00 it works very well in a variety of applications and will not get you into trouble. I forgot I had this and recently found it in the garage which is where it’s lived for well over 10 years. About $100 on the used market and typical MXR reliability; works perfect with no scratchy pots although just recently has an occasional pop when the comp is activated. Maybe a dirty switch? Berrmen wishes we had the ability to try the M87 (indicator and dials galore) as a comparison.

    Becos CompiQ Mini– We picked this as our winner although I didn’t think I wanted this many controls. Also, it didn’t behave like we thought it would. For just quick general compression, we started with soft knee and quick response. Even with moderate gain reduction, we both liked hard knee and slow response best. The mix between direct and pure comp was at about 50%. While the controls are very active and functional, you have to work hard to make it sound bad. Really amazing that something with so many controls is so easy to set up and it does not get fussy with the gain structure. The only thing I didn’t like was the lack of 9-Volt battery use for those that don’t use a pedal board and might have forgotten a power supply. Romania is turning out some good stuff and this box is very musical.

    One other note. As many of you know, the input / output controls of your amp can have a big effect on tone. The big powerful bass amps often do not sound great at really low volumes and the gain structures of the pre/power amp settings can also affect EQ. I found this to be somewhat true with compressors. There isn’t a huge difference, but I suggest you experiment with gain structure to optimize the tone you hear in your head.

    Cliff Notes: Becos – most flexibility – small real estate – hard to sound bad – good price.
    All of these are good, solid choices.

    Berman wants to test: JHS Pulp’n’Peel 4, Broughton APEX, DryBell Unit67
    Me: Hyper Luminal just to experience the differences styles of compression

    OTOH, I really prefer / want compression with a passive P and feel there is some natural compression with my active Lakland
    Anybody else feel active basses can be less dynamic?

    Huge thanks to 40Hz. for the gear loan.
    Much appreciated Ed, if you want to borrow something, just say the word.
     
    Slaymus, kesslari, geolikezik and 4 others like this.

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