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Ander87

Your 'Always On' Compressor / Boost

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Posted (edited)

Hi everyone. I'm a simple man - I'm receiving a new rig soon with a 18v active J+MM Merlos bass to plug to an Aguilar TH350 + SL112 matching cab. We play neosoul / soul / jazz / blues. I dread pedals. The cables, the extra pedalboard, power supply etc.... I like to gig and practise light as I can and have had very neat pedalboards before with power supply etc etc etc..... Lovely, but it just doesn't work for me, I can't be asked.

Nonetheless, if there is one pedal I could do with is a compressor / boost; I used to have an MXR compressor and used it as a tone enhancer. The visual compression was neat but I was too scared to mess up my tone due to the multiple knobs and configurations (I'd even take a picture of my settings to not lose the setting I liked).

With this in mind and the rig above, I'm looking for a simple, easy to operate pedal solution I can velcro to the head and keep 'always on'. I would use it for 'that one setting' that works for all songs and adds a bit of juice and evens up signal / controls peaks whilst still respecting playing dynamics. The rig as is (preamp of the bass and Aguilar) is quite warm already, I'm open to a coloured compressor as long as it makes for a nice tone whilst still allowing definition. 

My options:

- Diamond Bass Compressor Jr - Operating at 9/18v, 3 knobs, about £217

- Origin Effects Cali76 Compact Bass - looks like the leader in the category. I think I could figure out that one setting and etc and obviously want best tone possible but I start to trouble with the HPF controls and etc.... also £269

- Aguilar TLC compressor - good reputation and matching colouring ethos probably with my current rig but no visuals I believe on the compression added (not a deal breaker as I won't have it 'at hands reach')

That's when it comes to compressors, and I'm inclined to believe that's what I need.... Nonetheless I'm interested in hearing your thoughts on whether the Darkglass Harmonic Booster or the Xotic Bass RC booster /V2 would do a better result.

What do you use? Thoughts?

Edited by Ander87

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Posted (edited)

Hello' Cali 76 has the superior ((Sound)) for myself over the others.... Its expensive but' you get what you pay for & the H. P. F  feature is superb.                                                                          I've tryed & owned others.... Although they work well.. Compression is a dark art" & you have to use your ears & work with it.. extensively' for its benefits to be fully realised.                                                      As for boosters I. M. O  forget it... Save your cash.... the one's in your above script are only so-so... 

Paulo. 

Edited by paulo m

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I would suggest too looking at the Darkglass Hyper Luminal. A superb pedal, very easy to operate.

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www.ovnilab.com

Maybe the simplest multiband unit is the tce Spectracomp. If you are afraid of not finding certain sound again, this UI may be of help. Do not think the unit is a one trick pony, that one knob adjusts several parameters.

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Hey guys, thanks for the help!

4 hours ago, paulo m said:

Hello' Cali 76 has the superior ((Sound)) for myself over the others

It does sound like so...! On the other hand I hear quite a bit that it's on the 'pop', bright side of things, whereas the Diamond is the tone fattening, not a big ratio (set at 3:1), warmer (and simpler!) alternative.

@Bobthedog cheers mate - Darkglass is always a contender but from what I hear here and there Darkglass is on the 'darker' end - considering my already warm enough sound I'm conscious I wouldn't want to blur the highs... Still would love to try one properly, but 

3 hours ago, itu said:

www.ovnilab.com

THIS IS GOLD!! Wow, it really has opened me up to some reviews and models, thank you! From what I see, read there, out of my options, Diamond could be a bit on the lead there...

... It's also made me consider others like the Empress Compressor - I will definitely do more digging here.

It's true that, as @itu said, one knob buttons control more than one parameter... I think this is where I'm most comfortable, 1 to 3 knobs and an 'impossible to mess up' knobs/controls.

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Posted (edited)

deleted after a reread of the response to my post

Edited by Bobthedog

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Cali 76. Tried a few, this one always remains on the pedalboard, always on, sounds class. Not cheap, but worth every penny. Or get a HXFX, not much more and their version of the Cali is brilliant too. Then the other sounds on it are a bonus.

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The Diamond Bass compressor. So simple and natural sounding it sprinkles fairy dust on your sound and has a surprisingly useful eq tilt nob with switchable frequency centre.

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Cali76 CB is king for me - once you get what you want, you need never nudge the dials again.

Pure simplicity - Spectracomp, lots of good opinions on it, great price point.

Darkgkass Hyperluminal - you get their SuperSymmetry compressor which does soften and warm the sound, you get their FET compressor which is close to the Cali, but doesn’t quite nail it, the BUS compressor on that pedal though is very good and punchy.

MXR87 is a fine pedal and if it worked before for you, it will work again.

Diamond is a good compressor too - no worries with that.

Aguilar is worst of the lot mentioned.

The boosters you mention won’t compress, they are more sonic enhancements and if you fancy that then the Lehle Sonic Spark will do it better, they also do a great compressor and they are beautiful pedals, with the recessed dials, they are hard to shift from position if that’s a worry for you. The owner has retired and no more pedals will be made - you may get lucky and pick one up.

Keeley, FEA labs etc. Loads out there and that website someone linked is a good read.

Good luck - compression is cool!

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Thanks gents, very valid input.

I think for general purpose or 'clinical' approach, the Cali76 is defo the one to go for without a doubt. Especially if you're not afraid of controls etc. Next to this, from what I gather and read around, is the Empress Compressor.

Now on the other side of the ring, there is the Diamond Bass Comp Jr - Like @MGBrown says, I kind of want that 'magic' to tone and longer lasting notes and etc that just... make it all better. I have to admit the 'tone enhancing' and 3 knob of 'how much you want to use' works, but potentially you can, from what I've read, add a bit more noise than the others and loose some treble....

Now having said that I gotta admit @ryancowell25 this may be a very interesting call! On one side I have the simple operation of the Diamond, the blend/mix of the Empress and Cali, and from what I've read, the sustain can thicken up tone whilst still able to add treble if I fear losing it. I just popped a message to them and already got a reply saying it works well on bass etc.... Ryan can you tell me more on this?

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One more thing, just my personal finding:

Compressor acts quite like a fuzz. Some work better with lo-Z ("active") basses, some with hi-Z ("passive"). I would try the possible contender with both types, if your arsenal has both. If your systems has a few pedals and the comp is the last in line, it probably plays no role.

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As has already been mentioned, the TC Electronic Spectracomp is ostensibly as simple as they come. And it's a fraction of the cost of the ones you've listed in your original post too!

But it's not a one trick pony either, if you use the free TC Tone Print app, you have access to a load of different compression types so you can reconfigure the pedal in quite literally a couple of seconds. There's also the option of some PC editing to craft your own compression tone print but with some 50 or so parameters to configure it can be a bit daunting!

I was so impressed with the Spectracomp that I ended up getting the Hyper Gravity which is essentially the same pedal but with 4 control knobs instead of 1. You can assign any parameter (or up to 3 at once) to a control knob so that the pedal works exactly how you want it to. For example I've set mine up to work as a 3 band combined compressor and EQ with what's effectively an adjustable high pass filter. But you don't have to do anything like that, the tone prints give you more than enough choice.

From the ones you mentioned, the Cali is great, do believe the hype on that one. Personally I found the Aguilar TLC utterly insipid, one to avoid if you're looking for any sort of tonal enhancement. 

Another simple but excellent compressor pedal is the Boss bass limiter, which is a compressor and limiter in one. The cork sniffers might not approve as it's a Boss but they're simple to use and sound great. Just keep the Enhance dial very low or even off! 

If you're considering just a boost pedal, you can't go wrong with the TC Electronic Spark Booster, either the small one, another small pedal with a single control knob that gives a transparent boost. There's also the bigger one with has a 2 band EQ plus some low gain drive if you want it. 

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I really like the Empress compressor - both for it's wet/dry mix but also the visual monitoring which most don't offer. If you're using light compression it's good to be able to see just what's going on as it's not always easy to hear exactly what is happening. I've got one on both of my boards and I"m really impressed by it. Good luck with choosing, they're are loads of great comps out there and different reasons for choosing each one!

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Posted (edited)

I've had most of the compressors on your list,and my compression requirements are the same as yours. 

The Diamond is a lovely compressor, although it has a very low 3:1 ratio,That's fine for general smoothing and tone enhancement. While usibg it I thought it was too subtle and sold it,however when i didnt have it, I really noticed the difference. The tone is lovely and as previously described, it adds a little fairy dust to the tone. Very simple controls too.

Similar comps I've had to this are the 3 leaf Pwnzor,which has a lot more control,but harder to "get right". I'm currently using the fairly unknown Nemphasis VT which has little to no information online,so is generally unknown outside of Italy. It is a high end comp and does have that tone improving quality of the Diamond (slightly cheaper option too) and has very easy controls as it only has comp (threshold I'd say) and attack (which seems to work like the cali in that it affects the attack/release at the same time) it us very subtle so id say it has a set low ratio. 

Optical comps tend to sound warmer and more organic.

The Cali 76 is a fantastic comp, it does change the tone, in that it adds a much brighter sheen to the sound,so would work well with the Aguilar. It has a lot more controls but it is so intuitive (with the combined attack/release) it's easy to get a great sound. The blend and HPF really help open up the tone,and gove a lor of variety.It can be coloured or very transparent. The all things to all men comp.

I haven't tried the Aguilar,but it is highly regarded and a transparent comp,that doesn't change the tone.

I haven't tried the Dark glass,which is supposed to be very dark,however the Hyper Luminal is supposed to be very different,and has three different modes incl a super symmetry mode and a cali mode! Very worth a try!

I briefly had the MXR (awful) clinical toneless and noisy!! Moving on 😂

From what I've read the Empress is supposed to be amazing,but very transparent, so may not work as a tone enhancer.

I've used the EBS multi comp so many times and although it doesn't have the level of control of modern comps, it has a fantastic tone, and can do warm with the Tube mode,or very articulate. I always found, it could clamp down too much with certain basses,however the threshold can be adjusted via a trimpot. These can be found fairly cheaply and may just work for you.

On my list are the FEA comps which While expensive, are the creme de la creme!! If youve the cash and can find one. 

Edited by lee650
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I have an FEA Labs dual compressor, highly sought after for that Trace Elliot dual band thing but far, far better quality. 
bjx10ev9qrfzommvvsar.jpg

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Posted (edited)

+1 for any fea comps. 

But admittedly maybe alot of knobs for a beginner 

Edited by GisserD
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I've been using a Behringer CS400 since the tail end of last year and it is always on in my signal chain.

I find that it add a lot of something - I can't quite figure out what but there's also a bit of old 60s/70s farty distortion when used with the precision.

Anyway, I really like it

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Posted (edited)

All three you are looking at are great comps.  The Diamond is the simplest and just adds polish and punch without killing your dynamics.  Having played with some rack comps over the last few years, I'm looking at moving back to a few pedals and I want the Diamond on my board.  The ratio is set quite low and won't tame your peaks, but the tone of this comp is fantastic. 

 

Edited by clauster
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Forgot to add - I haven't tried any of the Becos comps which are fairly new, but are supposed to be great.

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Becos would be worth looking at for a pedal, but you might be better off with a 19" rack unit like a DBX166  if you don't like the faff of pedals. Dunno how rack-mountable an Aguilar TH350 is though.

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Another vote for a Becos. I have this small one. Its simple to use (believe me, it needs to be for me) but has enough control to easily get what you need out of it, without worrying about the finer points that can get confusing. All IME of course.

Having the meter is a huge help in seeing whats happening and understanding whats going on. 

https://becosfx.com/product/compiq-mini-pro-compressor-pedal-for-guitar-bass/

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Great thread this, am thinking about replacing my Effectrode PC2A compressor on my guitar board.  It's a stunning comp but power requirements mean I can't run it off a power bank.

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I'm surprised the EBS multicomp isn't mentioned more often. 

It's simple with only 2 knobs as it's all you need, and very musical to my ears. 

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