The Compressor Chronicles

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by Rickter, Jul 16, 2017.

  1. Rickter


    Nov 30, 2006
    Nashville, TN
    Hey TB fam, I am looking into getting a compressor and have been doing quiet a bit of research on the topic. Have been on ovnilab numerous times to research and have searched through these forums, but I wanted to come to TB for "tales of experience" where certain compressors are concerned.

    What I am looking for as a fairly transparent compressor, as I am not looking for tonal coloration but if there is some I could probably live with it. My rig is a Precision 5 string w stainless steel strings into a GK 1001RB into a sealed 410 cab with no tweeter. I typically play with an aggressive fingerstyle approach and on occasion with a pick, doing so in a hard rock/metal context.

    I originally had been looking at a DBX 166 (due to Steve Harris' use of them), however, I realized that for my needs a pedal based compressor would be the route to go as I am trying to assemble a pedalboard that would deliver "my sound" via DI.
    • Keeley Bassist (supposedly a DBX 166 in a pedal and nearly impossible to get a bad setting)
    • MXR Bass Compressor (many seem happy with them, seems to be THE pedal comp)
    • Diamond BCP1 (have been told it "fattens" the sound, but I am not needing that)
    • Wampler Ego or Ego Mini (*adding as an edit and suggested addition to the list)
    • Empress (added as an edit and suggestion, though a bit more expensive than I wanted to spend)
    So for any whom have owned the above compressors, what are the positives and negatives you have experienced? Bonus points if you've used any of these in a hard rock/metal context or with a rig similar to mine.

    * edit: I am trying to stay in the $200 range, but might be willing to go a little higher....
    ** edit 2: removing Spectracomp as reaction to it has generally been less than favorable.

    Thanks in advance!
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2017
    IngloriousOz likes this.
  2. Philly Watts

    Philly Watts

    May 6, 2016
    I love the MXR! Its quiet, works great for aggressive playing and has awesome metering. It doesn't have tone coloring so you're good to go with the M87.
  3. SLO Surfer

    SLO Surfer

    Jun 3, 2009
    Los Osos, CA
    I've been very happy with the Keeley Bassist. I use it as a limiter at the end of my chain (but before my BDDI) to tame the spikes of my other pedals. My goal is to not have sound guy's dive for the faders when I switch on my filter, phaser, or octaver, and it does that well.

    It doesn't color or change the sound at all. After shows I'll ask sound guys or other audio engineers or band mates using in-ears if my bass sounded compressed or squashed at all, and they always say "no." And that's what I want.

    I run GK MBF 800 into a small Schroeder 1210L cab. But I ask for and get my feedback on my signal to house sound, not my amp sound. I play finger style funk, soul, rock, world. Not too much heavy stuff genre-wise, but am in big and loud bands!

    MXR was at the top of my list, but I found what I needed on my first try with the Keeley.

    Good luck!
  4. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    As you mentioned, the Diamond is not a transparent compressor but still my favorite. If you're truly seeking "transparent", here ya go:

    Rothwell Love Squeeze
    tonym likes this.
  5. Rickter


    Nov 30, 2006
    Nashville, TN
    So I have heard time and again how the Diamond, though not transparent, doesn't affect the tone adversely and adds a "fattening" effect. Could you describe that? Is the "fattening" just a top end roll off or a mid boost? How do you feel it affects your tone, being non-transparent? Have you found any down sides to the Diamond because of that coloration?
  6. keto


    Mar 3, 2016
    Empress, though not on your list and for that I apologize, is just what you want, sir. I play hard rock aggressively with a pick. Bought the Empress and it instantly and permanently became part of 'my sound'. Very clear, tone wise. Punchy as hell. Blendable with your primary signal.
  7. I personally didn't like the Diamond because of its coloration. The post comp output is kind of like a mild overdrive and I couldn't find a setting on it where it acted more like a traditional compressor and less like a subtle OD. The clean tones I did find on it weren't compressed enough for my tastes (it's a poor peak limiter, IME) and it has less control over the parameters that I've become accustomed to. I respect that people probably like it for exactly those reasons, but to me it felt like it was designed like a compressor for people that don't really like compressors. All IMO, as usual.
    Buzz E likes this.
  8. Rickter


    Nov 30, 2006
    Nashville, TN
    Thank you for the suggestion. Have heard good things about the Empress Comp, but neglected to include it in the list. Thank you for the suggestion.
    Moosehead1966 likes this.
  9. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    To my ears, it embellishes the low mids but, keep in mind, I have the EQ tilt set @ 900 hz and rolled to the left / bass just a smidgen. Although the Diamond also offers a 250 hz frequency center, I've found that sucks the life & definition from my tone (too much mid-scoop). I've found no glaring deficits and my experience pretty much parrots bongo's review:

    Diamond BCP-1

    kat888, NOVAX and Rickter like this.
  10. I had the Keeley bassist. Loved it, but wanted more options. Felt like all it could do was limit my signal. (Which is not a band thing) Found a great deal on the markbass compressore. Have loved it since I made the switch.
  11. NOVAX


    Feb 7, 2009
    Hearing the Diamond is believing- don't look at it's specs on paper or ponder it's lack of superfluous controls -
    Use your ears. It provides a sonic glue that responds to your dynamics in the most pleasing of ways. It's crazy cool. The people behind it are wizards. It makes me sound better and that makes me play better. I can't say enough good things about this device.
  12. I had the Keeley Bassist, but it amplified noise in my signal chain, so I returned it. Went with the BOSS BC-1x and I like it better than the Keeley. It makes my short scale Reverend sound much bigger with more high end. And no noise.
    Philly Watts and klokker like this.
  13. Nofrets2

    Nofrets2 Supporting Member

    Aug 12, 2005
    Demeter Compulator.
    Clean and gets right to the point.
    afroman and TrevorOfDoom like this.
  14. allenhumble

    allenhumble Supporting Member

    Oct 22, 2004
    Acworth GA.
    Have you looked at the Cali 76 bass compact? I have one and love it
  15. Rickter


    Nov 30, 2006
    Nashville, TN
    High praise indeed.
    NOVAX likes this.
  16. Rickter


    Nov 30, 2006
    Nashville, TN
    I am familiar with it and was looking into it at one point, but it's a little more than I want to spend at this point. Was trying to stay in the $200 range, definitely below the $250 mark. Hadn't specified that originally, but guess that I should have.
    allenhumble likes this.
  17. I've had good results with the Seymour Duncan Studio Bass compressor - it doesn't seem to have a bad sound in it at any settings.
    The blend control makes a significant difference in retaining the zingy aggression whilst keeping the signal consistent.
  18. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    May 24, 2006
    For a first compressor for live gigging it's hard to go wrong with the Keeley Bassist. Super clean and transparent. Simple and easy to dial in a good setting. Also hard to make it sound bad.

    I've got four compressors. The Keeley is what I'll take along most times.
    pbass2 likes this.
  19. Matt Dean

    Matt Dean Supporting Member

    Jan 2, 2007
    SF (North) Bay Area
    This is THE bass comp... IMO of course.
  20. Rickter


    Nov 30, 2006
    Nashville, TN
    Thanks for that info #40Hz. What other compressors do you have and in what instances do you choose those over the Keeley?