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rxbassman
Junior
Username: rxbassman

Post Number: 16
Registered: 1-2004
Posted on Monday, August 01, 2005 - 9:58 pm:   Edit Post

Anyone recommend the use of a compressor with bass? If you have one, how often do you actually use it and how does it change your sound?
I have room for a single space unit in my rack to be used along with an F1-X and Stewart 2.1 amp.
thanks, Dale
richbass939
Advanced Member
Username: richbass939

Post Number: 341
Registered: 11-2004
Posted on Tuesday, August 02, 2005 - 10:53 am:   Edit Post

Dale, I'm not the techno expert here but I have been using a Boss stompbox compressor all the time for years. I don't know that it really changes the sound so much. It just evens out the volume some, brings up the notes that I hit to softly and softens the ones that I hit too hard.
Your question is ripe for answers that have all the graphs and techno terms that some members know all about.
Rich
davehouck
Moderator
Username: davehouck

Post Number: 2126
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Tuesday, August 02, 2005 - 2:13 pm:   Edit Post

Dale; like Rich, I don't use it to intentionally change the sound, but to prevent spikes and even out the dynamic range a bit. I use a rack mount unit with LEDs that show the amount of limiting. If your right hand technique doesn't vary dynamically then you probably wouldn't need one for that purpose. If your style however is one where you switch from say finger style to slap, and you've noticed that sometimes when you suddenly pop the E string you're sending a bit too much signal to your speakers, then it might be a good idea to have a limiter to protect your speakers. In the same circumstance, it's nice to have it before the direct out to the house as well.
matthew90046
Junior
Username: matthew90046

Post Number: 14
Registered: 1-2005
Posted on Tuesday, August 02, 2005 - 10:47 pm:   Edit Post

I am a bass player and an engineer. My current project requires melodic and dynamic bass lines so I am not using a compressor at this time. I have used compression in the past for heavier bands to control the signal going to the power amp. With a compressor you can maximize the output of you rig and avoid deadly power amp clipping which can destroy your speakers and power amp. A good compressor should not be heard (a.k.a. transparent).

A great compressor for bass is the DBX 160a. It is easy to use and sounds great.
jimbobv
Junior
Username: jimbobv

Post Number: 25
Registered: 4-2003
Posted on Wednesday, August 03, 2005 - 3:58 pm:   Edit Post

Where in the signal chain would the rackmount compressor be best placed? What are the diffecences in placing the compressor in the FX-loop -vs- on the output of the F1-X or just before the power amp? I presently run it in the FX loop.
dadabass2001
Senior Member
Username: dadabass2001

Post Number: 429
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Wednesday, August 03, 2005 - 5:26 pm:   Edit Post

In the fx loop means it's also affecting the direct out, which I believe is a good thing. I'm actually planning to go back to using my DBX 166XL in the fx loop on my F1-X.
Mike
davehouck
Moderator
Username: davehouck

Post Number: 2141
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Wednesday, August 03, 2005 - 6:08 pm:   Edit Post

I've run mine in and out of the effects loop and at different places in the signal chain depending on how all the components of the chain are interacting. I have a very nice sounding reverb unit, but it doesn't play well with others; consequently, I currently have nothing in the effects loop. My current chain is:

Alembic DS-5 Power Supply
Sabine RT-1601 Rack Tuner
Alembic F-1X Preamp
T.C. Electronic M*One XL
Alembic SF-2 Superfilter
Ashly SC-50 Compressor Limiter
Bag End Elf M2
QSC PLX 2402

The M*One seems to be happy with this setup, and this setup only. Fortunately, it seems to be working very well.

With the limiter last (before the Elf), I use the limiter's output gain to get the right amount of signal going to the QSC (through the Elf).

If I need a direct out to the house, I have a direct box which I'll place between the limiter and the Elf. (I haven't tried it yet; hope I'm not sending too much signal to the board!)
matthew90046
Junior
Username: matthew90046

Post Number: 15
Registered: 1-2005
Posted on Wednesday, August 03, 2005 - 7:02 pm:   Edit Post

If you put the compressor on the output you will be compressing post eq and anything else you may have in your loop.

I don't know how the F1-X is wired, but I would assume that the loop is pre eq. That being the case, if you use it in the loop, the eq will not push the compressor . You also get compression in the direct out if you set to post. When set to pre the direct is straight off the pre amp.

If you plan to use the compressor as a limiter to protect your equipment, I would plug it into the output. That way anything that may cause a spike will be caught before it hits the power amp. If you want a nice soft compression ratio of 2:1 or 4:1, I would put it in the loop.

Compressors are by far, the most improperly used audio components in a studio or rig. Many people hurt their tone because they are not using them correctly. I would recommend one if find that your dynamics need some leveling out. Otherwise, just leave it alone and get a tuner to fill that extra space.
richbass939
Advanced Member
Username: richbass939

Post Number: 342
Registered: 11-2004
Posted on Wednesday, August 03, 2005 - 7:16 pm:   Edit Post

Matthew brings up an interesting point (Compressors are by far, the most improperly used audio components in a studio or rig.) I've been using one for a long time but I wouldn't say that I know how to get the most out of it. I would like to hear from the club about how to set one for different styles of playing, different setups, etc. Also please remember that some of us have only stompboxes with minimal controls not the really good rackmount units.
Rich
matthew90046
Junior
Username: matthew90046

Post Number: 16
Registered: 1-2005
Posted on Wednesday, August 03, 2005 - 8:16 pm:   Edit Post

Some basics if anyone wants to know.

A compressor is a processor not an effect. It is a dynamic processor used to control the level of signal. Here are the basic controls and uses.

Threshold (sometimes input):
This determines the trigger level of the compressor. If set to -10dB, any signal going over -10dB will activate the compression circuit.

Ratio:
This determines the amount of compression. If set at 2:1, any signal crossing the threshold will be reduced by 1/2. This would be very little compression. 4:1 to 8:1 is a typical compression setting for bass. If set to 10:1 or higher you are basically limiting. At that point no signal will go past the level set by the threshold. (sort of... see attack)

Attack:
This determines how quickly the compression circuit is activated. If set to 30ms (milliseconds), the compressor will allow signal to cross the threshold point for 30ms before activating. If set to 0ms, as soon as signal crosses the threshold it gets squashed. A fast attack will catch that transient peak and protect your equipment if needed. A slower attack will let that initial pop go through and produce a more percussive sound.

Release:
Like attack, this determines how long after the signal goes below the threshold the compression stays activated. If set wrong with the attack you can get pumping or breathing. Here is something explaining that I found online.

When a compressor is making large changes to the input signal (10 to 12 dB or more), the noise floor will also rise and fall with the signal level. When this noise signal rises and falls drastically between signals, such as a heavily compressed, noisy drum track, you might hear the noise level "breathing" between drum hits. One solution to this breathing problem is to turn up the release time. This way, the noise floor won't have time to rise between drum hits.

However, if the Release time is too long, lower level signals after the peak will be lost as the compressor slowly stops reducing gain. This is called "pumping" as the lower level signals (noise included) slowly fade back up to their normal signal level. The secret to avoiding these problems is to achieve a balanced release time on the input signal.

Output:
A compressor reduces the level of signal. The output is used to compensate for that loss of level.

Some units don't have all these controls. Some have more. Often the attack and release are not available. In these units the attack and release are pre set to a moderate setting.

(Message edited by matthew90046 on August 03, 2005)
dannobasso
Advanced Member
Username: dannobasso

Post Number: 294
Registered: 3-2004
Posted on Thursday, August 04, 2005 - 12:22 am:   Edit Post

Thanks Matt for sharing your knowledge. In the early 90's I used to use a Symetrix unit and now I don't bother with any of it.
PA's, yeah DBX driverack( very nice all in one tool).
Recordings, yeah Focusrites, Avalons and others in the studio. Bass rigs, no.
Your rig is really only your personal monitor. If you play that loud and you need to protect your cabs, then you are louder than me God bless you. ( and I play really loud, sometimes 2000 watts loud). I rekon most of you guys play happier music too.
In the end if something makes you happy and increases the joy in your life, get it, buy it, use it and enjoy it.
It has been my experience that most of the folks in the audience can't tell and don't care. They just want to have a good time away from real life. But if you blow up your stuff they can't get their groove on without you.
Pax, Danno
88persuader
Intermediate Member
Username: 88persuader

Post Number: 139
Registered: 5-2004
Posted on Thursday, August 04, 2005 - 1:38 am:   Edit Post

Very interesting thread. Personally I never use a compresser on my bass. I LIKE having full dynamic control with my fingers. I've tried using a compresser and/or limiter in the past and felt the "evening of notes" was actually robbing me of dynamics. However if you're using a small solid state amp or are in the studio some compression or limiting may be a good idea to avoid spikes or distorting your amp. I think where compression is really usefull is in recording vocals but with my bass i like being able to YELL and a split second later whisper. Dynamics ... what a rare and wonderful concept!Now if i could only get my drummer to understand them! :-)
davehouck
Moderator
Username: davehouck

Post Number: 2143
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Thursday, August 04, 2005 - 7:07 am:   Edit Post

Danno wrote, "I rekon most of you guys play happier music".

Hee hee!! Thanks for the grin!
bigredbass
Senior Member
Username: bigredbass

Post Number: 438
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Thursday, August 04, 2005 - 7:11 pm:   Edit Post

Dave:

Here I go hijacking a thread . . .

What is your ELF set-up and how do you like it? I just know I'll never get to try one in a store or see someone using one, so . . . does it really work? I read the tech paper on ELF at Bag End's website, printed it and carried it around for weeks before the light bulb came on and I 'got it'. But what's it really like for a gigging musician? Does it make real world bass, is it fat enough to carry a band, etc.? I know Bob uses one, as well. What's it like living with it gig to gig?

J o e y
jet_powers
Advanced Member
Username: jet_powers

Post Number: 226
Registered: 2-2003
Posted on Thursday, August 04, 2005 - 7:20 pm:   Edit Post

I find using a compressor does not rob me of dynamics, it's still in the fingers. It just keeps the signal in line when I get a little too exited. IMHO, it is an indispensible tool...

JP
dannobasso
Advanced Member
Username: dannobasso

Post Number: 295
Registered: 3-2004
Posted on Thursday, August 04, 2005 - 11:09 pm:   Edit Post

I have 2 18" Bag End elf cabs with processor for sale. $600 plus shipping. (or north jersey pick up [Bergen County] )
Danno
matthew90046
Junior
Username: matthew90046

Post Number: 17
Registered: 1-2005
Posted on Friday, August 05, 2005 - 12:28 am:   Edit Post

I agree with Danno. I donít use compression with my rig anymore. I found that it made me a worse bass player. Without compression I am much more aware of my right hand and pay more attention to the dynamics that I perform.

When performing live it is best to think of your rig as a stage monitor as Danno brings up.

One of the worst things a some bass players do is to use their rig as a sound source for the entire club. When bass players do that the sound guy has no control over the mix. You will notice this when you are at a small club and the bass player is using a 8X10 SVT at full throttle. All you hear is a low rumble with no definition of notes.

I find it best to keep the low frequencies at bay on stage and provide the sound guy with a full range DI. This gives the control to him/her and keeps that low rumble under control. And all bass players should know that their instrument sounds much different at a distance. Low frequencies require distance to be heard. You may be standing close to your amp and not hearing the lows, but off stage they are screaming.

I get people coming up to me after shows wanting to know how I get such a clear tone. I reckon itís because I donít blow the mix out. Or maybe it's my Alembic bass.
dannobasso
Advanced Member
Username: dannobasso

Post Number: 296
Registered: 3-2004
Posted on Friday, August 05, 2005 - 7:39 am:   Edit Post

Hear, Hear! The Alembic is such an expressive and accurate instrument, I couldn't justify interfereing with that. Competing with 2 guitars with 4x12's provides challenges.(ear plugs, can't stress that enough people) I do sound (8 to 15 pc outfit) and have to deal with the band leader giving mix orders when he has no idea what it sounds like on the floor. Very frustrating at times.
When I gig, a simple out from the f1x with no treatment is what I offer the engineer. My last gig at the Continental inspired a lot of compliments on the bass tone. The engineer knew his stuff and actually mixed! Tonight an epi t310 and f1x-sf2-dtr 2000-plx3402 will be the weapons of choice.
Matt, may your ears never ring and your horns never blow.
Danno
davehouck
Moderator
Username: davehouck

Post Number: 2149
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Friday, August 05, 2005 - 8:33 am:   Edit Post

Joey; I picked up a used M2 contoller and two S18E-C cabs. At first, I couldn't get the sound up very loud before I was hearing distortion, but eventually figured out that the problem was the controller reproducing problems that the reverb unit was causing. Once I rearranged my signal path, I was able to open it up.

And yes, it really works. I've only had it on one gig so far, so most of my experience has been at home practicing; and I've only had it a few weeks. I'm running a full range signal into the controller, with the high end going out to a 2x10 and the low end going to one Elf cab. At home I'm using a Bag End D10X-D, which is the sweetest cab I own. With the Elf system, the low end is really clean and even. To me, the difference is amazing when practicing by myself at home. Playing E major pentatonics from an open E all the way up the neck is very even and seamless. However, while it is to me a substantial difference, it is, in the overall sound of course, subtle. On the gig, I took one Elf cab and one Eden 210-XLT. Usually, I like to take an Acme Low B-2 with the Eden, because the Acme has a much nicer low end than the XLT and the two of them match up well together. But the Elf made the same difference in the club that it did at home, a nice clear and even tone all up and down the neck. The guitar player noticed the difference and said that the low end had a much rounder tone, and I can see why he would say that; the quality of the tone is much nicer.

The addition of the Elf has changed how I work with my filter and Q switch settings on my bass; and I'm still practicing with finding the tones I want for certain styles. For instance, one thing I practice a lot is a medium tempo funky groove out of A where I'm trying to get a fat tone with lots of bottom on the low E, G, A, C and D but sill have enough high end to get a nice snap on the A in the second fret of the G string. It's the same type of tone I use on Chameleon. After adding the Elf, I couldn't find that tone at first, but I've been working with it and I'm starting to get it back with the benefit of a much nicer low end altogether. However, on something mellow like Elizabeth Reid, the Elf difference was apparent from the beginning.

Recently I'm playing small rooms, and the bass is not going through a PA. And I'm playing in a trio with a guitar player who has a fairly clean tone. Matthew wrote above about the bass rig being a stage monitor; but in my case, what the audience is hearing is the bass rig itself, and a lot of bass guitar at that. So I think in my case the Elf system will make the listening experience of the audience that much better.

I hope that gives you some idea; I feel like I'm kinda rambling here <g>. I did pay a lot more than Danno is asking, so I would recommend shooting an email Danno's way. Also, since his playing situation is totally different from mine, I'm sure his opinions would be quite valuable. That 18 does weigh a bit more than the Acme; so part of the cost for me is that I'm carrying around more weight. And for what I paid, it seems like a lot of money for a subtle difference; but then I'm sure that's what I lot of people think about buying an Alembic <g>! In short, so far I love it; and I think it's going to be the missing piece of the puzzle for me, a consistently high quality low end. As far as playing larger rooms with louder bands, I just don't have enough information to know yet.
bassman10096
Senior Member
Username: bassman10096

Post Number: 760
Registered: 7-2003
Posted on Friday, August 05, 2005 - 12:13 pm:   Edit Post

Glad you got your ELF equipment working, Dave. I've had my M2 and 18E for almost a year, but haven't been playing out much. Frankly, at home and in rehearsals, the ELF sounds great, but I have plenty of 15s to get an effortless-sounding low end at low/moderate volumes. I considered selling the ELF rig because I wasn't clear that I needed it.

However, when I started playing out more recently, I rolled the ELF along (it's actually no heavier than an ordinary 115 cab). I've had several gigs with it and here's what I've found it does in public:

It does add surprisingly to the clean low end in larger or smaller venues. It doesn't seem to have a critical mass volume level for its peak performance (sounds same outdoors as in your bedroom). What's apparent in larger rooms and outdoors is that the sound carries better and farther than with conventional large or small speakers. Outdoors, a number of people remarked that the deep bass didn't seem to be coming from a point source, but that it kind of surrounded them.

I'm still not 100% convinced I'll be able to keep this rather expensive part of my rig, with my son starting college in the fall (Youch.). But I can't say anything but good things for the single 18, which is actually very portable compared to, say, a 212.

Now, would somebody PLEASE take Danno up on the great deal he is offering on TWO ELF cabs and the processor? If I have to sell my ELF stuff, I'd like to get somewhere in the range he's asking for my only one cab plus processor (still a good deal for the market - LOL)!!

Bill
davehouck
Moderator
Username: davehouck

Post Number: 2152
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Friday, August 05, 2005 - 1:01 pm:   Edit Post

Thanks for the report Bill! And yes, you are right, it really doesn't weigh all that much, just more than my Acme!

When the seller shipped the controller to me, he included the wrong AC adaptor, which apparently immediately fried some interior components of the controller without my ever knowing it (never heard or smelled anything). Long story short, eventually the seller had Bag End repair it and I finally got it all working!
keith_h
Intermediate Member
Username: keith_h

Post Number: 143
Registered: 2-2005
Posted on Friday, August 05, 2005 - 1:31 pm:   Edit Post

Danno,
Sent you an e-mail about the ELF's

Keith
bassman10096
Senior Member
Username: bassman10096

Post Number: 763
Registered: 7-2003
Posted on Friday, August 05, 2005 - 6:39 pm:   Edit Post

Dave: I don't recall the detail of what you told us, but I remember being concerned that you had gotten mixed up with the wrong adapter -- Phhtttt!!!

I came very close to the same experience with mine - I was lucky enough to have the proper specs for the adapter, brought them and the adapter my seller had told me was correct to Radio Shack and came home with the right adapter. Glad you got up and running. Keep us informed on how it fits your sound and needs.
Bill
rxbassman
Junior
Username: rxbassman

Post Number: 17
Registered: 1-2004
Posted on Friday, August 05, 2005 - 10:15 pm:   Edit Post

Hey guys, thanks for the interest and all of the great info. It appears that for my style of playing, I probably don't need a compressor. I'll save the money for now and maybe purchase a DBX 166XL later and use with caution.
Thanks again,
Dale

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