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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. Jesuguru

    Jesuguru Supporting Member

    Sep 19, 2003
    DC area (for now)
    The fix arrived today! Thanks Empress!

    Just a word to the wise, "Step 2" of the instructions are potentially misleading. Text says "pull up" on the little black connectors to loosen the ribbon. But in fact, you pull *forward* on the upper one (left image), up on the bottom one (right image), illustrated by the red arrows in their online pic. Fortunately I put 2-and-2 together before forcing it with my screwdriver. Paper instructions mailed with the ribbon are text only - go to the website!!!

    Empress ribbon pic.png
    Lowendtech, BunchyMutt and Loring like this.
  2. scubaduba

    scubaduba Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Dec 23, 2003
    Yes, that is correct. Took me a minute too.
    Loring likes this.
  3. 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 must say, I am really enjoying the Empress Bass Comp.
  4. Loring


    May 4, 2017
    it is the nicest compressor I’ve used!
    Fuzzbass, Lowendtech and scubaduba like this.
  5. jacoby75

    jacoby75 Supporting Member

    Mar 11, 2010
    Coldwater, MI
    Endorsing Artist: Mike Lull Custom Guitars, DR Strings
    Same here. I almost broke the darn thing. But the picture does show the down arrow, I'm just not technologically saavy and didn't pay close enough attention, I suppose. But yes, definitely don't try to do it without the pictures.
    Jesuguru and Loring like this.
  6. scubaduba

    scubaduba Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Dec 23, 2003
    I received my cable yesterday and did the swap out. Everything is fine now. Thanks @Mitch -Empress for excellent customer service and thanks to Empress for the fantastic piece of kit.

    Oh, and to those who might wonder, the Empress MKII isn't too shabby either.
  7. monsterthompson

    monsterthompson The Eighth Note Wonder Of The World Supporting Member

    Nov 25, 2008
    There's a similar step when swapping the keypad on a Zoia, and it was the only tricky part, because the parts are so dainty. I swore I was going to break it, and one of the clips actually popped up in the air. I couldn't see any signs of damage, and the Zoia works as it should. Be gentle out there.
    Loring likes this.
  8. WorktheWood

    WorktheWood Supporting Member

    Mar 27, 2014
    I have an Empress Bass Comp arriving today. It's supposed to be of the new batch, I believe.
    Ryan L., Fuzzbass, scubaduba and 2 others like this.
  9. WorktheWood

    WorktheWood Supporting Member

    Mar 27, 2014
    I got the Empress BC yesterday and spent the last hour using it. It's a very nice compressor and does not appear to have the noise issue. Anybody know the serial number cut-off of the effected units? Mine is supposedly from the new batch. In comparing it to my Cali76 CB it is certainly more transparent and doesn't really enhance the tone, just compresses it. The Cali seems to slightly thicken the tone and adds just a touch of "sweetness." I didn't really care for the tone switch in either setting so I just kept it off. I haven't decided which one I prefer and in a band mix I'm not sure I could tell the difference. If I had to keep one right now it would be the Cali only because I'm still in my return window for the Empress. If I keep the Empress until after the window closes I'll just keep both and just flip a coin as to which one makes my board.
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2021
    Fuzzbass and Loring like this.
  10. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    I totally understand that some like to streamline their gear collections, but to appease my fickle ears I like to keep more than one (of whatever). For comps specifically: nothing beats the Empress Bass, but on any particular day I might prefer a Smoothie, or Stella, or one of a couple others. OK, I suppose five compressors is extravagant, but pedals are a lot cheaper than basses.
    kesslari, Loring, Rich67 and 5 others like this.
  11. odarellmc

    odarellmc Supporting Member

    Jul 8, 2012
    I have 5, a SD Studio bass comp, becos twain, diamond Jr BCP1, Doc Lloyd PDR, and a OTA Smoothie, my current fave is the Smoothie, every knob gives you clear audio feedback of whats going on. on my digital board, I use the diamond to warm it up, the PDR is on my smaller analog board but may be replaced with the Smoothie, the SD studio, I may just use for rehearsals, and the Twain is soo transparent you have to really listen, also it tightens my bass sound when I really want it not to do so, I understand this is how dual bands work due to the crossover, I may sell it, as I don't do any tapping or chords, for which this compressor would be killer...I think pedals are meant to be heard, which is why it's not my go to...but the saturation feature on it is really nice, so it can be heard just not in the same way as the others...
    Fuzzbass and Charlie Tuna like this.
  12. Rich67

    Rich67 Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 24, 2019
    North of Austin, TX
    Welp, thanks y'all - one Empress Bass Comp ordered just now! Psyched to give it a whirl/squish.
    kesslari, Fuzzbass and Loring like this.
  13. Killens84

    Killens84 Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 3, 2008
    My Empress BC is still having issues after the ribbon cable fix, so it’s being sent back for a refund. It’s an awesome comp, aside from that one small issue. Maybe I’ll get another in the future. However, I spent some time A/B comparing the Empress BC and my Mozztronics CO-2 the other day, and for me, the Mozztronics is still the best comp I’ve used. And I’ve tried a lot of good compressors. In terms of tone and feel, the Mozz did it for me a little more than the Empress. But in terms of metering, the Empress wins by 100 miles. As incredible as the Mozz is, the threshold indicator LED just isn’t very good. If you had the Empress’ metering on the Mozztronics, it would be perfection. Even though the Mozztronics’ sidechain HPF is just an on/off switch, rather than a variable control, it’s set at just the right frequency for electric bass. It doesn’t leave me wishing I could adjust the frequency point higher or lower. So the Mozztronics CO-2 is still my #1, with the Cali76-CB being my second favorite I’ve used.
  14. scubaduba

    scubaduba Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Dec 23, 2003
    The Mozz is no slouch. Definitely a stellar device. I really like that one.

    Sorry to hear the Empress still had issues. Maybe @Mitch -Empress has some feedback on what might be wrong.
  15. Killens84

    Killens84 Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 3, 2008
    Empress is taking care of me on their end. They arranged for a refund. They have stellar customer service! I’m sure I’ll own another one in the future, after all the bugs are guaranteed to be gone.
    Fuzzbass and kranahan like this.
  16. kranahan

    kranahan Supporting Member

    Aug 19, 2009
    San Francisco Bay Area
    I agree. Top notch customer service. Some of the best I’ve ever experienced. I do plan on buying a BC when the new version comes out. That being said, I’m looking at the Mozz, Cali76CB and Becos Stella to fill the comp void for the time being. I’m leaning towards the Stella.
    TheLopp and Fuzzbass like this.
  17. keatz


    Jan 19, 2011
    Yep the Mozztronics is awesome. Easily the best value for money comp out there(well for me anyway as I am Australian, not sure how much the international shipping is). The Empress Bass and Mozz are splitting hairs as my favourite comp, but the metering, size and appearance all put the Empress in front for me. I never noticed any issues with mine, but I still replaced the ribbon anyway.

    It's funny, when using plugin compressors in my DAW, I always prefer the 1176 FET style comps, but in the pedal side of things, I prefer the two mentioned above over the Cali CB. I have never had the chance to try a big box Cali though.
    Fuzzbass and Loring like this.
  18. merlin252


    Apr 22, 2016
    Just got a Rothwell Love Squeeze and am loving it. I had, and then flipped very quickly, an Ampeg Opto Comp, which seemed very susceptible to that pumping effect I try to avoid. The Rothwell, on the other hand, is just *right* somehow. It's like having something to lean against, if that makes sense.

    Incidentally, it seems to have a really lovely polishing effect on my Warwick with stainless steel rounds, but I'm not enjoying it so much with my P with GHS Precision flats. Anyone else find that? I might just need to back it off a bit. Will investigate further when I get the chance...
    BunchyMutt likes this.
  19. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    Not with that device specifically (haven't tried it), but I've owned other devices (usually distortions) that played well with one bass but not another, and yes, it's frustrating. Sometimes it seems to be a matter of active versus passive, other times it's a tonal issue (P vs. J or whatever). IME string sets can be fussy like that too.

    FWIW, not true for my Empress Bass. It's played well with whatever I've thrown at it. :)
    Loring likes this.
  20. DanScott

    DanScott Supporting Member

    Nov 28, 2007
    Kent, wa
    Interesting showdown 83D9847D-CB34-464E-9B2D-4AC18ED3DFE7.jpeg
    cavemanbass and BunchyMutt like this.
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    Feb 28, 2021

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