which compressors do you recommend

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by Pat Farrell, Jul 6, 2003.

  1. I am in the process of looking for a compressor. Here's he shortlist from most likely to least:
    1. DBX 160
    2. RNC
    3. Focusrite
    4. BSB

    any suggestions?

    It's primarily for live use. I want to iron out fingerstyle and slap levels to get that pop recording slickness. I've always thought this should be done with your hands. But I have since realized that the idiosyncrasies associated with phat hardcore slap lines can't be addequately emulated with limp wristed fusion techniques.hehe

    Also I'm thinking it might make switching between different basses less trouble.

    The Pat
  2. I have two suggestions. I've owned and played both of these. Neither one is on your short list but.....

    A used DBX 163X - simple and great compressor, works well with bass and is an absolute steal at $25-$45 US used. Very Worthy.

    A new or used Art Levelar tube compressor. These work extremely well for bass. Don't let the $70 US (new) price fool you. Very impressive unit.

    Both of these units have worked extremely well for me.
  3. sricabla


    Jul 4, 2003
    San Francisco
    Get the RNC if you have the money. You can always rack it later. The RNC really does compete with the more expensive compressors. Easy to use, really quiet and as they say... really transparent if you want it to be. The floor models will eventually fail because of the abuse they will take over time.$175.00 for a world class
    compressor ain't that bad! Most of the reviews have been pretty good if you have been doing your homework!
  4. how about a T.C. Electronics Triple C , it's fairly cheap, has great multiband capabilities and already has aa few bass presets
  5. sricabla


    Jul 4, 2003
    San Francisco
    Haven't used them but I hear good thing about them
  6. alexclaber

    alexclaber Commercial User

    Jun 19, 2001
    Brighton, UK
    Director - Barefaced Ltd
    Trace Elliot Dual Compressor pedal. The bomb! Sadly discontinued but available pretty cheap on ebay.

  7. adouglas


    Jun 23, 2003
    Bridgeport, CT
    I just picked up a Presonus Blue Max. Works well, sounds good. Got it for $80 on ebay.

    I like it because it has a fistful of presets that sound fine (including one for bass), plus the usual compressor controls. For something like this presets are good, IMHO... I've got enough to think about without screwing around tweaking a compressor.

    I don't slap much (don't have the knack, for whatever reason), but when I do with the compressor on it sounds great. Tight and controlled.
  8. I'm going to give this one a bump cuz I'm very interested as well.
  9. Tecx

    Tecx Radio Rock Leads To Sterility

    Jun 9, 2002
    Halifax, NS, Canada
    I second the DBX 163X, It makes my $2000.00 Bass rig sound like a $2000.00 bass rig... :)

  10. A quick ebay search yeilds 4 of these ranging from $20-$40. Quality compression at a steal!

    A couple of Art Levelars $40-$50. One is mine!

    All are great for bass. For quality, sound and ease of use, those 163x's are hard to beat even at 4 times the price. :)
  11. Thanks everyone.
    I hired a DBX 160 to try out on two different gigs: 1 was a pop thing with front of house and fold-back and one was a latin/fusion thing with no PA. I only managed to use on the first which was a pity. I was suprised how little difference the other musos could hear- I thought it was totally ironing out slap passages in tunes like 'play that funky music' where you just want to slam it. Maybe I'm just mental.

    It did take some crispness out of the Ken-Smith pick-up thing my fretted has happening. I tweeked the threshold so it was only compressing the harder stuff (like open E and B string thumbing and D string plucks like you need in a song like 'play' - J.Lo or 'if that's yo boyfriend' - Me'Shell

    Does anyone know the inherent difference between the DBX 160 and 163.

    Thanks - The Pat

    ps. the compressor sounded pretty lame on the fretless.....not sure if it can sound good with work.
  12. Tecx

    Tecx Radio Rock Leads To Sterility

    Jun 9, 2002
    Halifax, NS, Canada
    163X is a half rack, with 2 controls...

    Cheaper and better for bass...

  13. BFunk

    BFunk Supporting Member

    The 160 was the de-facto standard for bass in the 70's and early 80's. It is known for a smooth, milky sound. The 163X was a cheap little brother made for musical instrument applications. It is a nice inexpensive compressor with a decent sound, but it is not in the same league as a 160. Both of these compressors give an old-school sound. Try the RNC if you want modern transparent compression.
  14. zoran


    May 10, 2002
    I use dbx 160A compressor and I can't imagine playing gigs without it. It gives you smooth and balanced tone without coloring it. But, it needs to be pushed with some preamp if you want maximum quality. Don't use 160 as preamp!
  15. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I bought one of of these about 3 or 4 years ago,due to recommendations around here and in magazines and it was the worst thing I ever bought - apart from a TE combo amp - I hate TE!! :spit:

    But I fiddled with the Dual Compressor and never got anything usable out of it - despite following the instructions and advice from others - it just alway made the sound worse.

    I was looking for greater clarity and it just made things muddier - I sold it and discovered that what I needed was a different bass - no amount of fiddling with pedals and things like this could get the clarity of sound I wanted.

    People told me that compressors could do this - but I disovered by long bitter experience that this is not the case and my experience has been that any floor pedals used for compression on bass are a waste of time.

    So - some high quality compression used subtly at mixdown in the studio, via the desk, can enhance the bass in the mix. But my experience of 15 - 20 years playing has been that pedal-based compressors, used live, just add noise and muddy the sound.
  16. CS


    Dec 11, 1999
  17. alexclaber

    alexclaber Commercial User

    Jun 19, 2001
    Brighton, UK
    Director - Barefaced Ltd
    I don't think you really understand what compressors actually do, and how that effect is best applied. For starters I've yet to come across a compressor that adds true clarity - if you want more clarity buy a better bass or amp. However, once placed in the mix a bit of well applied compression can add a degree of clarity but that is purely due to the decreased dynamic range keeping the average bass sound louder for a given peak level, i.e. it's not due to a change in tone but a change in relative loudness.

    Single channel full-range compressors are a bit of a liability on bass because the fast attack time that is required to catch peaks when slapping or popping causes the LF content of the wave to be distorted. If you want to control peaks like that multi-band compression is the only way to go, hence the problem with most pedals (and many rackmount devices).

    Any compressor will raise the noise floor to some degree, purely because in lowering the peak signal the noise floor is effectively lifted. However with a decent bass (assuming the compressor threshold is not set extremely low) this raise in noise is imperceptible in the mix, whether live or in the studio. Bruce, were you using the TE on a Yamaha bass, because even their best models have remarkably noisy preamps?

    All compressors add some colouration to the sound, and it is important to select a compressor that colours your sound in what you deem to be a beneficial (or not seriously detrimental) way. Bruce, knowing how much you despise the TE sound, which is very midrangey and punchy at the expense of deep clean lows and clear glassy highs I'm not in the least surprised that you didn't like the TE compressor, especially as you came to it with the preconception of it adding clarity.

    I however love the pedal - although it makes my tone slightly less pretty and removes some of the deepest blooming lows, when taken in context it really helps my tone. Note that I play an EMG equipped Warwick which is very quiet so noise is not an issue, and EMGs have lots of top and bottom. The compressor comes between the bass and my SWR GP preamp (which has a lot of clarity, very tight bottom, growly mids and glassy highs) which then drives my Acme cabs via a big power amp.

    I only use the high compression when slapping, and even then I'll only do so a higher volumes then I am running out of headroom. The low compression I use all the time, with the threshold set so it catches my notes as soon as I play forte. I keep the ratio relatively low (though I have been known to crank it on outdoor gigs without PA support) and as such the extra punch and slight midrange hotness that the pedal brings is invaluable in cutting through the thickest guitar tones. The extra tightness it brings to the notes really helps in being heard and as the even longer sustain (and thus the potential to really work the note lengths) is much appreciated in loud situations when the bass is being attacked fairly hard and thus the natural decay is quicker than normal.

    If I were playing quieter gigs and/or there were no noisy guitars around I wouldn't use the compressor - there is no substitute for being able to play evenly. But if you want more punch, loudness and 'clarity in the mix' then I strongly recommend this pedal above all. Fundamentally, I totally refute Bruce's claim that pedal compressors add noise and muddy the sound live - used judiciously they can make all the difference between being felt AND heard or merely felt by the audience. I like to be heard - how about you?

  18. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Actually to me - you have just proved the exact opposite and have made it quite clear that they are a waste of time for a lot of people and that they might do something for you - but that's only be cause you have such high quality gear !! :rolleyes:

    The rest of us ar obviously not worthy of this pedal as we don't understand it and have sub-standard gear!!

    I hope you don't talk in such a patronising manner all the time - if I met a salesman with such a spiel I would avoid at all costs!!

    Go back to your grandmother's and carry on the lesson about eggs....and sucking!! ;)
  19. BFunk

    BFunk Supporting Member

    I just recently started using an Analogman Bi-Compressor. It is really working out well for me. There are two compressors built into the unit, a Ross compressor, and a Dan Armstrong Orange Squeeze. The first is great for smooth compression. The second is great for a very percussive sound. Both really sound great, with no muddiness. I am very happy with it.
  20. CS


    Dec 11, 1999