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Discussion in 'The Stomp Box' started by TWhitelaw, Aug 25, 2016.
Another vote for the Keeley 4 knob.
I personally really like the MXR Super Comp. It's nice and versatile for the money.
Welcome to the:
I can't live without a bit of compression. My rule of thumb is 3 knobs or less for effect, 4 knobs or more for tone polish. It is one pedal that is worth spending the most that you can afford. There is a lot to learn about compression, so if you want to learn the various nuances, I'd recommend a used Empress, then decide what you really want or need later on.
BTW, you have a fantastic set of pedals, so don't sell yourself short of a compressor.
Xotic SP is a good one. The small form factor on busy pedal boards is a bonus.
The Mooer Yellow comp would be a great choice just for the price/quality ratio, hands down. If it's your first compressor I suggest you to buy it in any case, even if you choose a different pedal. There are many kind of compressors (optical, OTA, VCA, FET, etc.) so trying at least two of them would give you an idea of the main differences between them.
In your case I'd buy a Yellow Comp and a Xotic SP. Both are good and affordable pedals from the main two compressor categories most common among guitar players (optical and OTA). There are also "studio quality" compressors which seems to be fairly common (and pretty good) these days, but they're definitely more expensive. I don't think you'll need one of them, at least right now.
I love compressors and I tried many of them (Boss CS-2/CS-3, MXR Dynacomp/SuperComp, Barber Tone Press, Xotic SP, Empress etc.) and those I kept are the following:
Mooer Yellow Comp: as stated before, it's ridicolously affordable and pretty good. I don't use it that much at the moment but it's very quite, "transparent" and great for subtle compression, even if it's capable of a decent squish if you need it. EQ function is great, too.
Empress Compressor: it's a "studio quality" compressor capable of anything, from subtle compression to extreme squish. You can get literaly everything from this pedal, it's so tweakable, reliable and precise that you possibly wouldn't need anything else.
Keep in mind that you need to know something about how compression works to get the most from this pedal, it's not the most easy to set correctly. Tweakability is great for "set and forget" kind of users, but if you need to do adjustments on the fly it's not the best choice imho. I'm not saying it's hard to use, don't get me wrong, but it's more complicated compared to others.
Keeley C4: the one I use the most and a staple on my pedalboard. Simply put, it's the perfect compromise between tweakability and practicality.
It seems to be the one that gives me more sustain for cleans and it sounds very natural even at extreme settings. It's not the most "transparent" compared to others but if you play country you'll probably like it a lot.
The trouble with these threads and it's also the wonderful thing about them is everyone has a different opinion. They're all correct of course.
I started a thread (here?) where I noticed that my cs3 didn't meld so well with my fender Nashville but my mxr dyna comp works brilliantly with it.
However my gretsch 5420t just sparkles with the boss and is a bit bland with the dyna comp.
So try out as many of these (including mine ) as you can to get the right blend for you.
Remember a compressor isn't a boost. If you want a boost get a boost. Learn as much as you can about compression. It's possibly your most useful pedal.
You have different choices:
1) Find pedals that sound good with all your guitars.
It's not impossible, it took some time for me but I did it eventually.
2) Build two (or more) small pedalboards depending on the instrument/project/gig etc.
3) Build a big pedalboard and put everything you need.
So called "transparent" pedals usually works good with any guitar, but if you lilke a pedal a lot keep it even if it works great with just one guitar.
I haven't sat down and played them side by side but I would probably say the Xotic for its versatility and size. It's helpful Having the mini toggle on the face of the pedal. I think the Barber has internal adjustments you can make with regards to compression levels.
A blend knob is a wonderful option to save people that can't help themselves from turning up the compression too high .
Yes - I am kidding... a blend is a great option but I do want to defend compressors that don't have blend controls as they are still very useful and often very good. There is nothing wrong with the good ole' Dyna Comp, Ross, Boss, Keeley, etc.. and guitarists used them for decades before the blend control became available. When set appropriately there are great sounds in all of them.
Just my 2 cents...
Wampler Ego Comp.
Everything from barely there to quite squishy. Doesn't do ubersquish.
Blend is the business.
The Xotic bumped my 27 year old Dyna Comp off my main board. I think it's fantasic.
By the description of your rig and style of music, a compressor could be a great addition. Everybody has their fave for various reasons and use them different ways. I use mine after my dirt pedals set for slightly higher than unity, set for enough paralell, multiband compression that a clean lead isnt all 'plinky' sounding. Mine is a TC Electronics Hyper Gravity. They can be found new for $100 and are the most versatile in any price range as they can be completely reconfigured using their toneprint technology (using your phone) or computer. There are as many adjustable parameters using the computer as my studio plug-ins if you want to dive that deep. Lately, im really digging a subtle toneprint written by guitarist Johnny A.
I am intrigued by the Cali 76 and the Carl Martin Andy Timmons model as well.
I will only put this video here to help explain the features of the Hypergravity because there are so many. Good luck on your compressor quest!
I like and use both an EHX Blackfinger Optical Tube Compressor x 2 x 12ax7s , and a Roger Mayer 615 Smooth Limiter.
I run a Roger Mayer 4644 Drive into the EHX 1st, then the 615.
I also like the fact that the EHX runs on full plate voltage, and the 615 runs on a full 48v.
I replaced the tubes in the EHX with Matched NOS Mullard I61s.
For $200 I really like the EHX, and the standard tubes that came with it were ok, but noisy at higher compression.
Ive had the BF for 10+ years. The 615/4644 just came out, and they will never leave my pedal chain.
The 615 also has the ability to add 2nd Harmonics, and retains great dynamics, even at low volumes.
615 also has a 10hz - 100khz frequency response, and also runs both Instrument Level, or Line Level.
I used many parallel and non-parallel compressors and in my opinion the blend function is a good option but definitely not necessary. There's not much difference between lowering the sustain/compression knob and lowering the blend knob (basically increasing dry signal and lowering compression), for example. You can get the same identical sounds in both ways, try for yourself.
The advantage of the blend knob is that you can set your compressor very squishy and use just the blend knob to make adjustments depending on the style, guitar, other pedals etc. but in terms of strictly compression settings it's not mandatory. I found myself not using the blend knob most of the time with all my compressors, except when I needed to use them as a clean boost (blend on 0%, volume high). To be honest, I actually prefer straight up old school units like the Dynacomp and Keeley C2/C4 but it's just personal preference.
Wampler Ego comp is my favorite but, Xotic SP comp is half the size and price and sounds great so I went that way.
I like the compressor in my Bogner Harlow a lot, plus you get a nice preamp and musical tone control. And a Neve designed transformer! The Fairchild Accountant sounds great, is very versatile and it's a micro pedal
For your needs/genre I'd give you my VFE White Horse to try. Preamp/od with bass roll off, optical sustainer and a clean blend at end.
I've had these compressors:
- Cheapo Behringer compressor, which is a $20 fake Dyna Comp, sounded trashy and kind of good. If I remember right, it cut bass and treble a little.
- MXR Super Comp, which I could never get a good sound out of. It was smoother than the Behringer, but seemed to go from off to too much, even with the attack control.
- Big-box Barber Tone Press. Sounded great. High fidelity and headroom. It made everything sound more finished.
- Chicago Stompworks orange squeezer clone. Bought it new for $50, and it's my favorite. It sweetens the sound, adds sustain and can add a little grit when turned up. It has a germanium diode in it. Definitely not transparent. It's like clean distortion--warm, fat sustain and some sag, but without (much) clipping. If you want to keep it fancy, check out Analogman Juicer or JHS Pulp & Peel.
First, if you're new to a compressor, plan to give it time. When I first got my first (Wampler Ego), I thought it was broken. It made everything sound 'bad'. At the beginning, for me, the right settings were very elusive.
The 'best' compressor for you partly depends on your style. Funk? Epic sustainy notes? Knopfler-esque burying of the attack?
If you want knob-twiddling studio-like tone-shaping abilities, some of the opticals (Joe Meek comes to mind) offer all kinds of control over the attack, decay, squish, release, etc.
I like my Analogman BiComprossor. It's two in one: a Ross style (many, many clones, from Dynacomp to Ego), and a Dan Armstrong Orange Juicer/Squeezer type. The Ross is like the generic 'do anything' compressor, and the Orange sounds kinda like Knopfler in a box. I ordered the version with the external attack knob for the Ross side (vs an internal trimmer). I get a lot of mileage by tweaking to retain most of the attack. This is a different method, but similar result, as the 'blend' circuits, merging compressed (usually heavily buried attack) and dry signal.
Ideally, I don't want to hear the compressor much. Just miss if it's turned off.