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The Serial Compression Experiment

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by caeman, Aug 4, 2012.


  1. caeman

    caeman The Root Master

    Sep 17, 2008
    Ohio
    The subjects of this experiment are a pair of Guyatone ST-2 compressor/sustainers. Both are a different release versions, as the back labels are different.

    GuyatoneST2Comps.

    Why this experiment? I had read somewhere about one method to reduce artifacts in compressing a signal was to run it through more than one compressor at conservative settings. The Slide Rig from the maker's of the Cali76 have a dual-comp and that got me curious to try some experimenting of my own, but on a less costly scale.

    My first task was to find the noise floor with just one. With my Gretsch G2202, the sustain on comp 1 could be turned to about 10:30. With comp 1 on then turning comp 2, the same 10:30 approximate dial. At this setting, I could tell no discerible noise being amplified. I am working through a pattern of very light to very heavy playing with the pedals on and off and I am getting some pleasant results. What I am finding is that indeed, I am able to get a greater level of compression and evening of the signal with two inline units at conservative settings, rather than just one. It is kinda weird being able to barely touch a string, and it comes through nearly as loud as when I begin hammering on the strings.

    I am continuing the experiments and will eventually record my samples for comments.
     
  2. caeman

    caeman The Root Master

    Sep 17, 2008
    Ohio
    If it weren't so late, I would be running my tests through my amp.

    But, I am getting an interesting form of overdrive-like sound running the comps serial. It is kinda like a very light overdrive that never distorts, but you can tell it is doing something to the signal that sounds like overdrive.

    Regarding the noise floor, when I try to crank up just one of the pedals to reach a similar result, I get a lot more noise coming out of the speakers. Of course, if one is using an FEA Labs comp which can be cranked up with no noise, but you don't seem to end up with this certain kind of resulting sound.
     
  3. babebambi

    babebambi

    Jan 7, 2008
    YTZ
    Sub'ed
     
  4. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    One time I was testing out a newly-arrived compressor, I put it in the pedal chain, switched it on, put on my headphones and played, and thought "holy crap this sounds amazing! So punchy and loud and full of harmonic detail, it's like the bass strings are in my ears! Too bad it's kinda noisy."

    Then I looked down and realized I had four comps all switched on together.
     
  5. caeman

    caeman The Root Master

    Sep 17, 2008
    Ohio
    :D

    That is hilarious!
     
  6. caeman

    caeman The Root Master

    Sep 17, 2008
    Ohio
    Okay, I just got it all hooked up into the Backline 210 + 210 extension and there is a little more hum with my previous settings than what I could hear straight to mixer, but not annoying. Again, with both comps on, there was this very pleasant harmonic content thing going on. THIS is the sound I was wanting from an overdrive pedal.

    Unfortunately, with the signal being double-comped, any sense of dynamics have gone out the window. But I could see someone that plays a lot of "boring" CCM bass lines where a whole of dynamics on bass may not be needed, where this could an interesting sound. And since I just happen to be one of those kinds of players, I am going to have to try said experiment at church when next I am on bass.
     
  7. caeman

    caeman The Root Master

    Sep 17, 2008
    Ohio
    Tonight bass for the experimentation -- and for my practice time in general -- is the Kala U-Bass. I am using the Fdeck-Pre acoustic preamp, then into the two Guyatone's.

    The comps in serial did a good job of boosting the evenness of the whole signal like a comp is supposed to do, but the U-Bass has less in the way of extra harmonica than my Gretsch, so the boosted/comped signal sounded very clean. I was getting some noticeable additional sustain of around two extra beats of a normal tempo CCM song.

    And differently from the Gretsch, I seem to have more room for heavier dynamics. I could really thump the strings and get a louder overall result, then relax and get an even volume. I played through a few bass lines of the average CCM song where a constant stream of 8th notes might be heard and the level was a lot more even than without the comps. They appear to be doing their job.

    So, at least one conclusion I am drawing from this series of experiments is that the serial-comped signal could save one's fingers from additional strain if you have a long gig night.
     
  8. caeman

    caeman The Root Master

    Sep 17, 2008
    Ohio
    Some more work with the Gretsch tonight. I think I have found a tone I like. Back when I was looking at overdrives, I think that THIS was the sound I was actually trying to get. I think I am ready to begin recording some sound samples.

    Gretsch -> ST2 -> ST2 -> G4 -> Micro Screaminator -> mixer

    The dual comping of the ST2's gave me a nice level of extra harmonic sound that was very pleasing to my ears. I could then kick in the G4 for a little extra overdrive grunt. My PT-Nano board has remained unchanged for over two months now, but it appears that is about to change.
     
  9. caeman

    caeman The Root Master

    Sep 17, 2008
    Ohio
    Today's equipment usage: Gretsch -> FX Board (Guyatone ST2 -> Guyatone ST2 -> Cave G4 -> [sfx] Micro Screaminator) -> PA

    Today at the Shabbat service was my first live use of the dual compressor setup. In my private practice, I was discovering this fantastic saturated sound like light overdrive. It was very harmonic and very musical. It gave my Gretsch a while new voice. The results sat very well in the overall mix that included two vocalists, one electric guitar (using an Eleven Rack FX unit) and flute.

    As a compressor, it manages the spikes and lows. The dual comping gave me a good level tone but still left room when I needed to dig in for some parts of the music selection, which included some loud and fast Messianic music akin, to loud Contemporary Christian Music. It was interesting to not have to worry so much about my finger dynamics as getting a consistent result which better supported the music.

    The dual compression experiment was a winner today.
     
  10. matante

    matante

    Nov 3, 2003
    Los Angeles
    This thread needs sound samples. :)
     
  11. caeman

    caeman The Root Master

    Sep 17, 2008
    Ohio
    Yes, yes, I know. Tonight is a night when I can stay up late, so I will endeavor to record direct from the dual comps. My plan is to keep it simple: G major scale, G major 12-bar blues, light to heavy fingering, may try some pick action (I don't use a pick, so the results may sound like yuck due to lack of skill) and some G/C/D/Em combinations I often find in many Christian songs.
     
  12. caeman

    caeman The Root Master

    Sep 17, 2008
    Ohio
    Okay, I picked randomly a silly G D C Em D C G pattern that is similar to something many CCM songs use -- though I didn't repeat it once.

    I do a voice-over of the section number. Here is the guide to the settings.

    SoundClick Link

    Part 1: To give a reference tone
    Gretsch - DI - Mixer

    Part 2: Single Comp Bypassed
    Gretsch - ST2 (off) - DI - Mixer

    Part 3: Conservative Sustain
    Gretsch - ST2 (level 12:00, sustain 9:00) - DI - Mixer

    Part 4: Moderate Sustain
    Gretsch - ST2 (level 12:00, sustain 12:00) - DI - Mixer

    Part 5: Excessive Sustain
    Gretsch - ST2 (level 12:00, sustain 3:00) - DI - Mixer

    Part 6: Max Sustain
    Gretsch - ST2 (level 12:00, sustain max) - DI - Mixer

    Part 7: To give a reference tone
    Gretsch - DI - Mixer

    Part 8: Dual Comp Bypassed
    Gretsch - ST2 (off) - ST2 (off) - DI - Mixer

    Part 9: Conservative Sustain -> Conservative Sustain
    Gretsch - ST2 (level 12:00, sustain 9:00) - ST2 (level 12:00, sustain 9:00) - DI - Mixer

    Part 10: Conservative Sustain -> Moderate Sustain
    Gretsch - ST2 (level 12:00, sustain 9:00) - ST2 (level 12:00, sustain 12:00) - DI - Mixer

    Part 11: Moderate Sustain -> Moderate Sustain
    Gretsch - ST2 (level 12:00, sustain 12:00) - ST2 (level 12:00, sustain 12:00) - DI - Mixer

    Part 12: Moderate Sustain -> Excessive Sustain
    Gretsch - ST2 (level 12:00, sustain 12:00) - ST2 (level 12:00, sustain 3:00) - DI - Mixer

    Part 13: Excessive Sustain -> Excessive Sustain
    Gretsch - ST2 (level 12:00, sustain 3:00) - ST2 (level 12:00, sustain 3:00) - DI - Mixer

    Part 14: Max Sustain -> Max Sustain
    Gretsch - ST2 (level 12:00, sustain max) - ST2 (level 12:00, sustain max) - DI - Mixer
     
  13. kesh

    kesh

    Jul 9, 2012
    Brighton, England
    if you put a compressor and expander in line with each other, and set it just so, you get back to where you started.
     
  14. matante

    matante

    Nov 3, 2003
    Los Angeles
    I don't know if it's my headphones letting me down, but I hear distortion in all the samples with moderate to max sustain. Why would this be? Also, it's hard to gauge the tone difference because the volume drops with the compressor compared to the reference tone. In real world recording wouldn't you raise the level when engaging compression to get the same recording level you would have without it?
     
  15. icecycle66

    icecycle66

    Feb 4, 2009
    Arizona
    I like the sound of serial comps. Before I accidentaly destroyed my Behringer Comp/Limiter I had it and a Boss LMB3 running back to back. I'm getting used to only one comp now, but I still miss having the two of them.

    I've come to find that I like duplicate effects as well (I don't think of Comp as an effect, it is a conditioner.) I like have two flanges, two echos/reverbs, etc.
     
  16. caeman

    caeman The Root Master

    Sep 17, 2008
    Ohio
    As Bongo would say, "the noise floor has been raised." With the sustain maxed, the noise floor has been raised up high enough to kill a cow. You get distortion without even trying and the noise level was so high with both on max that I was clipping my DAW before I began playing. Then when I played, the noise went away. I stopped, and it came back.

    My apologies for not balancing the levels with the reference tone more carefully. I'm still working on my recording skills.
     
  17. matante

    matante

    Nov 3, 2003
    Los Angeles
    In every A/B compression experiment I've ever heard or conducted, I've always preferred the uncompressed tone, so my opinion will mean very little as I don't seem to like compression. The only use I've found for it is to get a funky '70s fingerstyle tone and that's not my sound.

    Anyway, what did you make of the experiment?
     
  18. caeman

    caeman The Root Master

    Sep 17, 2008
    Ohio
    Noise began to appear once the Sustain reach 12:00. But at less than 12:00, even by just 00:15, it disappeared. With just one, the results were kinda so-so. But in serial, I kinda liked the additional harmonics that seem to build up. I played the serial comps at the Synagogue this past Saturday, and the results worked very well with the room's PA and vastness.

    If you wanted even level, no matter how you plucked the string with a low budget, I suggest two inexpensive comps. A single FEA pedal, of course, is silent all the way to the max settings, but they are hard to find and expensive.
     
  19. caeman

    caeman The Root Master

    Sep 17, 2008
    Ohio
    One of the benefits of the ST2 that I like is that it acts like a High-Pass Filter. It drops off the frequencies below the E string in a positive, useful way. On my Gretsch, it makes my E string sound better to use an HPF.
     
  20. boethius

    boethius

    Sep 27, 2011
    Raleigh, NC
    ...on a business trip reading this at a restaurant and just embarrassed myself laughing out loud so hard! You got back to where you started...but did your signal have fun in the meantime? :D
     

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