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Intermediate Member
Username: lothartu

Post Number: 148
Registered: 8-2003
Posted on Saturday, June 10, 2006 - 7:12 pm:   Edit Post

I've played for a lot of years but I've never run a compressor in my rig. I guess I was taking the "if it's not broke, don't fix it" approach but now I'm wondering if I may have been missing out.

Here's my current rig.
F1X preamp
QSC RMX 1850 poweramp
Aguilar GS112 cabinet
Alembic MK Signature

What I want to know is...
- What has been your experience using a compressor? Did it strike you as an essential piece of gear or could you take it or leave it?

- If it did float your boat then did you go on a long compressor hunting trip trying to find the right one like so many of us do with preamps and cabinets?

- If you do use a compressor and yours suddenly blew up then what compressors would be on your short list for hunting ebay and why?

- To tube or not to tube? That is the question.

ty in advance
Username: u14steelgtr

Post Number: 22
Registered: 7-2003
Posted on Saturday, June 10, 2006 - 8:32 pm:   Edit Post

My approach has always been to configure sound gear to to have adequate headroom though the entire chain. It appears that you have done this and that you should not need a compressor.

This said some people like to have the option of using a compressor as an effect to get that compressed sound. I'll withhold further comments about this for the moment.

It would appear that the weak link in your rig is the GS112 cabinet. Particularly if you are running the QSC bridged and playing at moronically loud levels (which I doubt).

I am not an expert on off-the-rack speaker cabinets but from what I have heard about the GS112 cabinets this cabinet should never run out of dynamic range if you are playing at reasonable volume levels. If you are using a standard E/D-A-D-G tuning then a compressor should be unneccessary. Even if you were using a BEAD tuning instead I would still think that this cabinet would have adequate dynamic range at reasonable volume levels.

-- Eugene

(Message edited by u14steelgtr on June 11, 2006)
Username: davehouck

Post Number: 3954
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Saturday, June 10, 2006 - 9:47 pm:   Edit Post

I have a compressor/limiter in my rig, but I don't use it as an effect. I have a wide dynamic range in my right hand and I can get pretty aggressive, so I use the limiter to protect my speakers. For the most part it's not really affecting my tone, it's just there in case too much signal suddenly comes out of the bass. It also comes in handy as an extra gain control.
Username: ghunter

Post Number: 18
Registered: 5-2006
Posted on Saturday, June 10, 2006 - 10:35 pm:   Edit Post

I like light compression to control the dynamic range and prevent clips.

The built-in compressor in my Eden WT-400 is kinda lame and doesn't do much, so I'm thinking of adding an EBS compressor pedal, especially with my Bongo 5HH that has an 18V preamp and plays really hot.

On the other hand, the dual-band compressor in my Trace Elliot SMX preamp is absolutely excellent. I compress the high frequencies more than the lows to let the punch and impact stay true, but smooth the high-freq nasties out.

Plenty of great compressors out there to play with, maybe buy one or two used and try them out. Trace made a pedal SMX dual-band compressor that are floating around, try an Optical or Tube compressor, FMR makes a great small low-priced compressor too.

I think that the compressor is one of those things that you won't notice when you put it into the signal, but you sure do notice once you take it out.
Senior Member
Username: bsee

Post Number: 1193
Registered: 3-2004
Posted on Sunday, June 11, 2006 - 12:10 am:   Edit Post

I am turning into an Electro-Harmonix fan, so I'd probably try their Black Finger if I was serious about a compressor. Not quite $200, I think.
Intermediate Member
Username: 2400wattman

Post Number: 166
Registered: 11-2005
Posted on Sunday, June 11, 2006 - 12:34 am:   Edit Post

It's probably not that necessary if your not doing some hairy shit w/ your playing (alternating techniques like slap and I mean hard slapping, fingers and or pick playing) or using efx which can degrade your signal by turning them off and on. The use of a compressor can fix this. If you are playing strait ahead bass you don't really need it. It can be another variable that can go wrong. Let the soundman worry about compression so you can just groove man! But if you're really hell bent on getting one get on e-bay and look for the DBX-160X. every soundman we have worked with swear by them. They are not made anymore, but can be found for about $2-350.00. It's a lot for a used piece but they are pretty durable and they work great! Good luck
Username: kilowatt

Post Number: 60
Registered: 12-2004
Posted on Sunday, June 11, 2006 - 4:43 am:   Edit Post

As Dave said, I also use mine for protection. Whenever my band plays a show with another band, my rig always ends up in use. This usually doesn't call in the need for the protection of the compressor, but the occasional "guest artist" on stage does. I just set it and leave it for normal use, but can add some protection for my rig with the turn of knob. I think it's a small price to pay for the added protection given the high power we tend to run in rigs nowadays.

Intermediate Member
Username: edwin

Post Number: 150
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Sunday, June 11, 2006 - 11:34 am:   Edit Post

I don't use a compressor much these days (except for some programmed into my Lexicon G2), but I used to use an FMR RNC and liked it a lot. It's very clear sounding, sometimes it's hard to even know that it's there. I was also blowing speakers a lot before I put it in my rig, but that was also when I was using a Mutron a lot.

Compressors seem to come in two flavors: transparent and colored. I think the RNC is the best transparent compressor out there. If I wanted to go for a colored one I might check out the Demeter Compulator or perhaps a Keeley or Analogman compressor. From what I hear they all sound pretty cool.

I like the idea of having a "guest artist' compressor in the rig!

Username: u14steelgtr

Post Number: 23
Registered: 7-2003
Posted on Sunday, June 11, 2006 - 1:02 pm:   Edit Post

Dave Houk articulated great points: kudos! With your rig an instrument cable gone marginal could certainly lead you your hearing and your speaker cabinet being "violated."

If you want to experiment with a compressor without making a substantial investment try an Alesis Nanocompressor (they are cheap on eBay). The DBX-160X mentioned above is a fine unit but requires a bit more investment.

-- Eugene
Senior Member
Username: lbpesq

Post Number: 1367
Registered: 7-2004
Posted on Sunday, June 11, 2006 - 1:07 pm:   Edit Post

I have a "dyna-ross" mod from Analogman. It is a reissue MXR Dynacomp that has been moded to Ross specs. It is a great improvement on the MXR as the "waves" in the sound have been eliminated.

Bill, tgo
Senior Member
Username: jalevinemd

Post Number: 449
Registered: 12-2003
Posted on Sunday, June 11, 2006 - 2:45 pm:   Edit Post

I have a Demeter "Compulator" on my pedalboard. Supposedly David Gilmore uses or at least used to use one. Unfortunately, I don't use the board much anymore. So if anyone's interested in it, let me know.
Senior Member
Username: bigredbass

Post Number: 821
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Sunday, June 11, 2006 - 6:23 pm:   Edit Post

While I have a pretty steady touch, I still wanted a compressor to make me as smooth as possible, BUT I did NOT want to hear any obvious compressor artifacts, 'pumping' or that 'leveled-flat' sound with no dynamics.

After studying several (was really headed for a DBX160A), I ran across a great steal on an Aphex 661, which had an automatic mode (handy for going back and forth between fingers, pick, and slap, IF it worked well) as well as a few APHEX circuits for their usual proprietary menu of expansion, big bottom-types of things, with a tube input circuit. And LED strips for bpth input and output. so I know EXACTLY where I'm at in adjusting levels. I'm running it through the tube channel efx loop on my Eden Metro stack.

Well, it works just fine! Built like a tank, a tube front end, invisible unless I dial in an obvious effect, which I don't. Kick it into bypass, there's NO sigh it's in the circuit at all.

For me, it just tightens things up a bit and smoothes things out just a bit. It REALLY firms up the low Cs and Ds, the lowend in general. It tends to 'save' the occasional 'almost-fretted-properly' note, as well as generally pulling up the occasional dead spots most all bass necks have.

I can live without it. But I prefer the sound with it, the notes seem to bloom just a bit better off the fingerboard. It's a subtle difference, which is just what I wanted.

J o e y
Username: keurosix

Post Number: 44
Registered: 10-2005
Posted on Sunday, June 11, 2006 - 8:39 pm:   Edit Post

I use the compressor built into my SWR SM400 amp to tame the high end pops and overly energetic transients that seem to run rampant out of the 4x10 w/ horn SWR cab. The amp is really transparent, and whatever bass runs through it really shines. But the compressor is not a really sophisticated one. The circuit is labeled a "Limiter" and has one knob to adjust the threshold (min-max). One point that no one has brought up: If you go into the studio, the engineer will most likely compress your bass signal with his favorite professional level rack mount compressor. He is thinking of the overall sound of the band, and compressed bass fits best. I previously used an Audioarts model 1200 compressor for my component rig - now too big to move for any gig - and the effect is nothing short of amazing. A really good versatile compressor can do dramatic things to the sound of the bass, without any noticable drawbacks like "pumping" or swooshing sounds. If the compressed effect is used too much (set to kick in at a minimum threshold level), the sound will be altered greatly, which translates a choked feeling back to your hands. That can only be described as feeling like you're fight against the sound, which forces you to play harder. You play harder, the compressor compresses harder. However, compresson also enhances sustain, and a little can go a long way. Add a chorus effect (time delay) to compression and a sweet singing sustain similar to fretless bass can be had without ripping out the frets. Add distortion to compression for a wall of sound. It's really a good additive effect to make other effects more pronounced. I would check out a few local studios or pro-gear music stores to see what units they recommend. your hands and ears will be the best judge.
Intermediate Member
Username: 88persuader

Post Number: 191
Registered: 5-2004
Posted on Monday, June 12, 2006 - 2:32 am:   Edit Post

I never used a compressor. I've TRIED them but didn't like a piece of equipment controling what my technique should be controling. Just my 2 cents.
Intermediate Member
Username: lothartu

Post Number: 149
Registered: 8-2003
Posted on Monday, June 12, 2006 - 9:19 am:   Edit Post

Thanks to everyone for your advice. I really do appreciate all the input.

I am not driving my current rig hard enough to endanger the cabinet so the dynamic variation between playing styles shouldn't be an issue for me right now. I'm only running one side of my power amp into the GS112 so I could always add a second cabinet for the other side of the power amp and increase my overall volume without pushing my rig any harder than before. If I end up in the situation where I am using two cabinets and both sides of the power amp then it sounds like adding a compressor/limiter might be a really good safety idea to keep my cabinets from getting inadvertantly "slap" blown.

Username: worldfamousandy

Post Number: 59
Registered: 3-2004
Posted on Tuesday, June 13, 2006 - 5:28 am:   Edit Post

I can't say enough about the EBS comp pedal. It tightened up my sound, and it gives a nice boost (if I want it) to my weak-signaled EUB. You can certainly use it as an effect, although I am not personally fond of that sound. I suppose it keeps my rig safe from harmful transients, but that's not usually a problem, anyway. I simply like the tight sound. I tried one of those half-rack space DBX units, and was disappointed. The EBS sounds great, though. I am actually thinking of putting another one in my pedal board, simply for the EUB, so that I don't have to get on the floor and adjust the boost every time I switch basses.
Senior Member
Username: olieoliver

Post Number: 404
Registered: 2-2006
Posted on Tuesday, June 13, 2006 - 6:20 am:   Edit Post

I used to run an Alesis 3630 dual comp. My SWR has one built into it, but I never run it. Never had the need to. I'm with Dave and Joey here, I have a huge amount of dynamic control in right hand and compression can alter this. I don't discourage using one but compression is just not for me. But now for guitar I love compression, especially when there is a need for an overdriven hard but smooth sound.
Senior Member
Username: bigredbass

Post Number: 826
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Tuesday, June 13, 2006 - 8:44 am:   Edit Post

Exactly, Olie. Think of Brian May's lead tone without that 'pulled' sound of a hard-knee compressor. You hear that effect a lot in country music on clean electric tones as well.

J o e y
Username: palmann

Post Number: 43
Registered: 6-2005
Posted on Friday, June 16, 2006 - 5:46 am:   Edit Post

@88persuader: That's exactly the way, I feel about it...

Gruesse, Pablo

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