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

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


  1. keatz

    keatz

    Jan 19, 2011
    1 other thing i forgot to mention though, is that the FEA dual band is DEAD quiet. The least amount of noise ive had in along time. Even turning on my alpha omicron and sitting there with volume up on my bass was the quietest ive experienced in that situation.
     
    GentProvocateur likes this.
  2. Modest_Moose

    Modest_Moose

    Dec 26, 2014
    Washington
    Unrelated to compressors, how do you like the Alpha Omicron? They always have such nice sounding distortion pedals but all their demo's revolve around metal which I don't play... I just want a really good versatile distortion pedal. I have a few fuzzes but nothing concrete in the distortion department, my pork loins pretty good though
     
  3. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    Exactly right. The only difference is in the attack speed/slope, so really I should not have emphasized one version being better for bass than the other. The Tough is only better for bassists that like more immediate squash and character on the attack.
     
    scubaduba likes this.
  4. Modest_Moose

    Modest_Moose

    Dec 26, 2014
    Washington
    thank you for the clarification there. I'm really interested in the Smoothie and the Cali76 CB which are quite different compressors it seems but both sound fantastic to my ears.
     
    scubaduba likes this.
  5. keatz

    keatz

    Jan 19, 2011
    I really like it as a solid mid/heavy gain od. Many ppl like them for hint of hair but in that scenario to me it does sound a little too "metally". It excells in a band mix. So in my opinion if you're after mid/high gain it is excellent, but if you arent playing metal i personally wouldn't use it for light OD.
     
  6. scubaduba

    scubaduba Supporting Member

    Dec 23, 2003
    Michigan
    Both different forms of great. I’d be happy with either. Smoothie is more versatile. Cali has a nice brightness and sheen and punch.
     
  7. scubaduba

    scubaduba Supporting Member

    Dec 23, 2003
    Michigan
    As good as the FEA Optifet is, I think it might just be inherently too warm for me. It is definitely in a different league than other compressors but it has an overall smooth less lively tone baked in. This will be the bees knees for many for sure.

    I'm digging the Studio Bass the more I use it. I really like the switch in the full position and mid position. Low position adds a lot of bass. Of course if you bring less dry signal in you get less of this effect but that's where the magic is. With the dry up around 2:00 I can add a lot of compression without it getting overly squishy. It's not as bright as the Cali.
     
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2018
    Spidey2112 likes this.
  8. Grahams Groove

    Grahams Groove Can we please just groove for a while? Supporting Member

    Apr 13, 2001
    Boulder, CO
    Try it with the internal dip-switch disengaged for the high end roll off. I found the roll off too warm and blanketed for my tastes, but the optifet gets real snappy if you let that top end through.
     
  9. scubaduba

    scubaduba Supporting Member

    Dec 23, 2003
    Michigan
    Yep. I've got all dip switches off.
     
  10. scubaduba

    scubaduba Supporting Member

    Dec 23, 2003
    Michigan
    It's time to put a few of these in the classifieds so I can try a couple more. Real tough to let any of these go because they are all fantastic. Frankly, I'd be happy with any of the compressors I've tested so far. But alas, can't (or at least shouldn't) keep them all.

    I put the Keeley Bassist in the classified.
    Why? I'm just looking for a little more tweak-ability right now. The Keeley is a great transparent limiter that evens things out. Pretty much set and forget and this is a great pedal to use live. Especially if you switch between basses. Pretty much just adjust the threshold knob and you are good to go.

    I put the Seymour Duncan Studio Bass in the classifieds.
    This one has the best form factor of the bunch with top mounted jacks. Running it at 18 volts give tremendous head room. I really like the three-way switch. I've decided to let this one go because I wish it had a threshold LED and there is enough overlap with my optical Smoothie that it is probably redundant. But the Studio Bass is a fantastic compressor, especially for the price.

    I put the FEA Opti-Fet in the classifieds.
    OK so this is hard. I might change my mind on this. It is super had to find one of these and I managed to do so. Don't know when I'd ever find another. It sounds amazing and has the lowest noise of all of these compressors. It's amazingly quiet. The side chain feature is killer. Very, very flexible. It is so smooth and just seems like it is in another league. Seems to put a real nice fundamental on the tone, extra presence. But I guess I just prefer a little more "lively" compressors. I'm tempted to hold on to this one.

    When I sell a couple of these, I'll snag a couple of others and add to the test.
     
    Fuzzbass, Modest_Moose and Spidey2112 like this.
  11. keatz

    keatz

    Jan 19, 2011
    Update:
    Spent some time with the FEA today and I'm pleased to say that I'm very satisfied. So many possibilities and big range on the controls meant that it would have been pot luck to set it bang on with the band on first use.
    Isolating the 2 bands with a dummy lead proved CRUCIAL to being able to dial it in correctly. I've got the lows set to a low ratio(about 3:1), fairly quick attack and long release for sustain. Threshold set so the quietest I can play doesnt quite trigger it. This helps keep it open sounding while still giving tight punch. Highs I've got threshold in a similar position. I have these set on the lowest 2:1 ratio. If the unit had a clean blend I would have the ratio set higher but this is where I need it to keep the highs crisp. I found setting the crossover at about 140hz keeps it punchy and snappy but still a bit of on open feel which I like. If I want a more wooly vintage sound I just bump the frequency up to about 220hz. Any lower than 120hz while still being snappy, lost a bit of open girth that I like. With the way I have set up the relationship between the lows and highs, I find this knob reacts very similar to the LPF control on the Cali CB. My only wish would be for a clean blend, but still.....
    Quiet. Tight. Punchy. Open. Articulate. Happy Tone-freak Bassist.
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2018
    Dee-man and scubaduba like this.
  12. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    I’m finding my Smoothie is getting more and more use these days. It’s not a perfect compressor by any stretch. But it checks enough boxes that I think it’s on it’s well on its way to becoming my goto.

    Interestingly enough, I reacquired a Aphex Bass Xciter just a week ago to replace one I owned some years back. This is one of those devices marketed as an “aural enhancer.”

    The way it works is by splitting your signal into highs and lows. The low end fequencies go through a compression type circuit. The highs go through a circuit that adds additional second order harmonics. Then two signals are then mixed back together.

    I’ve found I can pretty much use this gadget to get a lot of what I’d use a warm and colorful sustainer type compressor for. I’m going to try pairing it with my Keeley Bassist eventually to provide peak limiting and see what happens.

    Wot fun!

    The Xciter manual discusses the theory of operation in more detail if anyone’s interested. You can find a copy here.
     
    scubaduba and Spidey2112 like this.
  13. Modest_Moose

    Modest_Moose

    Dec 26, 2014
    Washington
    Teasing me with putting that opti fet up! If only I didn't need to buy a cab right now.
     
    scubaduba likes this.
  14. scubaduba

    scubaduba Supporting Member

    Dec 23, 2003
    Michigan
    It's very versatile. I'd recommend it for somebody looking for a high quality, great sounding, general compressor for both active and passive basses. I have the Suave version and based on the attack feel I would definitely prefer the suave to the tough. But I'm not one for squashing. I like my transients to come through. The smoothie is a seriously good tool.
     
  15. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    Agree. It’s very musical and (surprise!) affordable. I bought mine used from the classifieds here just before they became available again. I don’t know how the originals compare to the new ones but I’d guess they’re the same or close to the suave version. I like the way mine responds at nearly every setting and I’m not big on squash either.

    It is interesting to me how I’ve found the somewhat less expensive compressors better suited to the way I play more often than not. So while I do like my Neve transformer equiped Bogner Lyndhurst, I don’t use it for much other than recording. The Keeley Bassist, Smoothie, Markbass Compressore, and my antique BOSS CS-2 (which is perfect for fretless IMO) I’ve got sitting on top of my amp where they’re ready for immediate service.

    I’ve got an FEA on my gas list. Haven’t decided which. But I’ll get one eventually I’m sure. I’d also love to try the new Broughton Apex. But that puppy is difficult to get ahold of due to the way they’re being sold. So the Apex is back-burnered with me for the time being.
     
    scubaduba likes this.
  16. scubaduba

    scubaduba Supporting Member

    Dec 23, 2003
    Michigan
    The FEA OPTI-FET is the same. Extremely quiet. These really are killer. Just a tad too warm for me.
     
  17. scubaduba

    scubaduba Supporting Member

    Dec 23, 2003
    Michigan
    Yep, I'm digging the Smoothie. Tough to make it sound bad. While the Cali76 is more lively, the Smoothie has more variety. I find with my brighter basses turning the tone knob back slightly is about perfect. This is especially true with my G&L L2500. The Smoothie is excellent at taming that beast.
     
    bongomania and 40Hz like this.
  18. scubaduba

    scubaduba Supporting Member

    Dec 23, 2003
    Michigan
    Ha. Well I can't keep them all unfortunately. Or at least I shouldn't. :D
     
  19. scubaduba

    scubaduba Supporting Member

    Dec 23, 2003
    Michigan
    The Smoothie with sustain at noon or to the left and the tone knob to the right gets in to Cali territory. But there is something about the liveliness of the Cali for sure. It's unique that way but likely something people wouldn't hear live.
     
  20. kesslari

    kesslari Groovin' with the Big Dogs Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2007
    Santa Cruz Mtns, California
    Lark in the Morning Instructional Videos; Audix Microphones
    I forget if I've asked - @scubaduba how does the EBS Multicomp fit into this world for you?