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

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

  1. Lowendtech

    Lowendtech Happily trending in my own peculiar direction. Supporting Member

    I’m keeping both. And the LA-1A.

    and I’m drawing the line at 3 comps.
    I swear.:smug:
  2. Naack

    Naack Supporting Member

    Mar 30, 2021
    Edmonton, Alberta
    I think once I get a DC7 PSU, I might look into getting an LA-1A as I believe it can power it.
  3. Lowendtech

    Lowendtech Happily trending in my own peculiar direction. Supporting Member

    It can and does (that’s what I’m using). You just need the current doubling adaptor cable which takes up two outputs.
    75Ric and Derek Williams like this.
  4. Derek Williams

    Derek Williams Gold Supporting Member

    May 14, 2020
    Edmonton, Canada
    And also make sure you are using the red polarity adapter
    Shumasonics and Lowendtech like this.
  5. Lowendtech

    Lowendtech Happily trending in my own peculiar direction. Supporting Member

    Yes, absolutely. Or it goes boom.
    Derek Williams likes this.
  6. Naack

    Naack Supporting Member

    Mar 30, 2021
    Edmonton, Alberta
    Of course! I currently have a DC4, and I am amazed with how much I can power from that one PSU. While I don't have a big board, being able to power 6 pedals (two of which have unique power requirements) is pretty nice.
    I do think their naming system, while it makes sense for outputs, doesn't make sense for usability. i.e. the DC7 has more power and flexibility than the DC10.
    Anyway, back to compressors, I'll have to look into the LA-1A! Effectrode makes some slick pedals
  7. CheckBass


    May 22, 2020
    Here is a feedback of my compressors test!

    I play heavy /rock/ blues fingerstyle and mainly use compression and overdrive as effects.
    The compressor is first in chain, always on. I generally play with a low ratio (4:1), slow attack and fast release.

    My main bass is a Precision, I also played a Jazz and an active PJ bass for this test, into a Phil Jones Big Head with backing tracks. Hopefully in a live context soon, I will report back then.

    Tonewise I would define the The Keeley, Becos mini and Cali as transparent, the Seymour Duncan and the Diamond as colouring while the Becos Stella and Empress can be both.

    1. Keeley bassist:
    Pros: Very easy to dial in. The easiest of the bunch. With my P bass I set everything at 12:00 and I'm good to go. Great! And it cannot sound bad. It works on battery too.
    Thanks to its simplicity I learnt a lot about how compression sounds with this compressor.
    Cons: An extra blend knob maybe?

    2.Becos mini:
    Pros: that one is amazing! Easy to dial in, led metering, blend and side chain filter on a mini pedal.
    Sounds also great with guitars (it's on my guitar pedal board).
    Cons: the toggles can be difficult to reach but I am being picky.

    Both sound similar : transparent, neutral, you only kow you miss them when the pedal is off. The blend option on the mini makes it more versatile though.

    3. Cali Compact Bass:
    Does this one need any comment?
    I actually have it since shortly so I need more time to fully appreciate it.
    Pros: It has its own vibe. Not transparent like the previous ones, neither coloured as the core sound of the bass is retained. Punchy (lot of lows) and it gives my basses much more clarity/definition. Even basses with dead strings sound alive with it!
    Cons: Tricky to dial in (can sound bad) and the control knobs are sensitive.

    4. Seymour Duncan Studio Bass:
    Pros: Punchy tone (with the toggle on mids). Blend knob.
    Compared to the Diamond it sounds darker and harsher. Not in a negative way, I really like how it fattens the tone.
    Cons: Like many here, I really wish there was some kind of metering and a wider attack/release range.

    5. Diamond Bass Jr:
    Pros: Easy to dial in. 3 knobs only but what a tone! Very noticeable and pleasing: I would define it as dark, round, punchy, fat with enhanced mids. The EQ knob allows to fine tune it quickly. The threshold led indicator is useful too.
    Cons: One trick pony (but what a pony!)

    6. Becos Stella: the best allround!
    Pros: A lot of pros on that one! I especially like the tape saturation which I found much better sounding than the tone colour option of the Empress. I was surprised the Stella with tape saturation actually can come close to the Diamond sound, as Scubaduba pointed out in his review!
    Without tape saturation it is transparent but has more bite than the Empress.
    What I like about the Stella is how versatile it is and as the same time easy to dial in.
    Also convenient: Manual attack and release for fine tuning or fixed setting for a quick set up.
    All these features in a “normal” size pedal and there is still room for a 9V battery inside. That one is truely amazing!
    Cons: Can it be improved? Yes I think so: It is very well built but the small knobs look fragile and the toggles are not easy to reach. It is also the ugliest compressor of the bunch IMO!
    Another improvement could be the led metering which is very nice but Empress raised the bar.

    7. Empress Bass Compressor: Also praised by all here for good reasons.
    Pros: Versatility, transparent or coloured tone. The led metering makes it stand out of the competition.
    It is very responsive, much more than the Stella. Having leds for input and compression is very convenient not only to dial in but also to understand what is happening. Having the lights flashing looks very cool too:)
    I love how the Empress sounds on the clean mode: bright, articulate. It sounds more powerful and smoother than the Stella, the lows are more felt.
    Cons: Is there still room for improvement? Yes! Adjusting the level and amount of tape saturation like the Stella would make it perfect to me!

    The winners!
    My favorite at the moment is the Diamond.
    I enjoy testing gear but when it comes to playing I am a plug and play player. My main set up is the classic combo P Bass -->Tuner/Comp/OD/Sansamp and rock on.
    The diamond wins because it is quick to dial in and I love its round and punchy mid ranged tone.
    I like it combined with the Darkglass Vintage Microtubes too.

    Talkbass comp3.jpg

    The Empress is on my “big” board. I enjoy its powerful clear sound and fantastic metering.

    Talkbass comp1.jpg

    The Becos Stella is my back-up, in the gigbag.

    All this might change of course, time will tell ;). In the meantime I had a lot of fun trying out these units!
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2022
    Slaymus, Rich67, One Way and 17 others like this.
  8. scubaduba

    scubaduba Moderator Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 23, 2003
    kranahan, CheckBass and Lowendtech like this.
  9. arepa_funk

    arepa_funk Supporting Member

    Nov 2, 2020
    Love this writeup! I'm with you on the Keeley and Empress. Never played a Diamond but the Dedalo gets close from what I read. (Subspace looks great too fwiw.)
    CheckBass likes this.
  10. madmaskbass


    Apr 29, 2008
    Haven't bought any gear for a while and I have been using Darkglass Supersymmetry and then Hyperluminal for many years now think it is time to get something new for fun. Honestly after having a good read over bongo and scubas reviews I am really considering going to a 6176 and being done with it. Johnk talked a lot about it in the past on TB and I have been keen ever since. All this work to cram the stuff in little boxes when I am running a rack anyway just doesn't make sense so I may aswell go all out!
  11. fivestringgecko


    Mar 28, 2007
    This has my attention. :)

    Similar notion here. But I went from the Symmetry (which I still have) to the Empress Bass Comp, which instantly became a must have pedal for me. Awesome comp, and absolutely LOVE the Tone+Colour switch. Been thinking I should buy a second to have as a backup.

    One Way and Loring like this.
  12. CheckBass


    May 22, 2020
    Which is why is the Empress is available in 2 colours :)
    I've had the same thought :laugh:.

    talkbass empress2.jpg

    The Cali76 Compact Bass is available in 3 colours :D
  13. 600 Ohms

    600 Ohms Supporting Member

    Jan 4, 2012
    Which color sounds better?
  14. fivestringgecko


    Mar 28, 2007
    Everyone knows that the blue one is for funk, and the silver is for metal. :laugh:;)

    StayLow, tedsalt, Loring and 4 others like this.
  15. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    Some bassists love the non-Bass version, which also comes in silver and blue. Decisions, decisions!
    Loring likes this.
  16. davelowell2

    davelowell2 I’m not superstitious. Maybe a little stitious. Supporting Member

    Apr 20, 2006

    I am really impressed with the Cali. I don’t know the words yet because I only had a few minutes and only at 9v, but the first thing I think is “crunchy”. Can’t wait to get more time with it and also to try 18v.
    odarellmc and Fuzzbass like this.
  17. Naack

    Naack Supporting Member

    Mar 30, 2021
    Edmonton, Alberta
    It's a great pedal! I really encourages tinkering with your settings as there are so many usable settings and it's easy to hear the difference.
    Bassist30 likes this.
  18. benjobass

    benjobass Supporting Member

    Oct 6, 2001
    Now that the Source Audio Atlas is publicly available, curious to hear early thoughts from @scubaduba and any other beta testers.
    AlvarHanso likes this.
  19. scubaduba

    scubaduba Moderator Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 23, 2003
    Short answer is "I like it". I'm pleased with how Source Audio took my feedback. For example, I really wanted to see it have a feedback LED to show gain reduction. They listened. Tweaks to the computer interface. They listened.

    One thing I will say is that the compression types allow you to dial in excellent sustain if that is your thing.
    red_rhino, jdc866, One Way and 6 others like this.
  20. AlvarHanso


    Jun 20, 2011
    How close are the presets to their classic counterparts? And what do you make of the auto make up gain feature?