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stewblack

Moved My Compressor

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One of the things that draws me to Basschat is the endless Compressor Wars where people attempt to fight about a nebulous concept using only written words, when it's actually difficult to get a handle even with sound.

So much is in the feel of the player, who, conscious of their natural playing dynamics, is instantly aware when compression is doing something, but the listener cannot share that tactile experience. So we watch A/B videos and wonder if the £200 box the guy just stomped on does anything other than ignite an LED.

Well, against that backdrop I'm going to get brave and share my experience with the conflict ridden concept that is compression. I moved all my utility type stuff to the @rse end of my signal chain. HPF, Compressor, Noise reduction, the lot. And it made a fantastic difference. Especially when using filters (wise old bassists nod and stroke their beards).

I actually believe the bassist's compressor comes into its own in a band scenario - when backline is not going to the desk, i.e most gigs, which is why it's tough to notice much difference in your bedroom. Also it's not strictly speaking an effect. Assuming you use the word effect to mean manipulates and dramatically changes the sound. But moving it to the end made a big noticeable difference to me. The effects which can be a tad quiet or loud when engaged seemed to sit better in the overall volume. The crazy Fwonk stomps were a little more tamed without being put on a lead. Imagine a hungry tiger in a corridor rather than loose in an open plan office. He's still pretty scary but within manageable confines.

Oh and while I'm in this can of wworm,  ccanI put in a vote for the humble Zoom multi effects collection and their 160Comp?  I haven't used 1000s of compressors yet so I'm not comparing it with that many, but I've used a few and this is one of the best to my way of thinking. The controls seem to do exactly what I expect, and it's possible to 'dial in' (as I've heard the trendy kids ssa)  way too much ccompression.sThis way I can actually hear what it's doing, and then ease it back to a suitable level. By far the best way for me to approach things. Because I'm an addict I have zero concept of the word 'enough' and so gradually turning something up until it's right and then stopping doesn't compute. I always want to see what 'more' will achieve. I'm much better backing off to a good level and staying there.

So there you have it. My rambling inconsequential offering for today. Shove all that controlling gubbins to then end instead of the start, set it up to extremes and back it off until stuff sounds good, and don't spend a fortune when a cheap multi effect might well be all you need.

image.png.02318c254d712a732a6c6796c61b5dd7.png

Edited by stewblack
typo
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9 minutes ago, BillyBass said:

I might try moving mine around too, see if it makes a difference.

...and, I'm looking forward to chapter 2 of @stewblack's compressor journey

I am working on chapter 2..

 

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So is using the compression at the end just keeping all of the effects at near enough equal volumes or does it have a more different subtle effect 🤔

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2 minutes ago, Thunderbird said:

So is using the compression at the end just keeping all of the effects at near enough equal volumes or does it have a more different subtle effect 🤔

Both! Depending on how you set the compressor. You can have it set up like a limiter, high ratio and threshold, and fast attack, to tame any unwanted boosts. Great for agressive envelope filters, but beware of using it as a crutch rather than just setting your pedal levels properly, you don't want an overly squashed tone because one of your pedals is too loud.

The more subtle effect compression has is in shaping the attack of the note - because there is an adjustable time delay before the effect kicks in, it can accentuate the attack of the note and make it sound more punchy whilst simultaneously evening your overall volume out.

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20 minutes ago, dannybuoy said:

Both! Depending on how you set the compressor. You can have it set up like a limiter, high ratio and threshold, and fast attack, to tame any unwanted boosts. Great for agressive envelope filters, but beware of using it as a crutch rather than just setting your pedal levels properly, you don't want an overly squashed tone because one of your pedals is too loud.

The more subtle effect compression has is in shaping the attack of the note - because there is an adjustable time delay before the effect kicks in, it can accentuate the attack of the note and make it sound more punchy whilst simultaneously evening your overall volume out.

Why thank you kind sir 

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I have my comp at the end of my signal chain. I figured that’s what happens in a recording, so why not do it live? Works marvellously (although using it at an inside gig might take a while) as it it keeps everything even (my chorus pedal, even at a low wet/dry mix was always a tad loud) yet punchy. 

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I’ve mine at the start as I’ve found that placing one after my Para Driver doesn’t do me any favours at all. I do agree Stew, that it’s in a band setting that compression shows it’s worth, I’ve only just really started using one and even with very low settings it makes the exact difference to the sound that I want. I think that’s been my problem over the years with these, I simply set the levels too high, so then thought it doesn’t work for me, whereas for my needs and the music I play it’s just a tad to even things out a bit.

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I've been experimenting with my compressor pedal and my boss lmb-3 which I know technically are different but I think I prefer the lmb-3 to the straight out compressor right now but that could all change by the time I'm finished playing with settings lol

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1 hour ago, Thunderbird said:

Why thank you kind sir 

Couldn't have put it better, he really answered your question better than I could.

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@stewblacka little off topic but in one of your pics I'm sure I saw that you were using a nux bumblebee board my question is do you think it's worth the money and how many boss sized pedals do you think I would get on it? As I'm not sure whether to get a medium or large one when funds allow 👍

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On 14/10/2020 at 19:00, stewblack said:

One of the things that draws me to Basschat is the endless Compressor Wars where people attempt to fight about a nebulous concept using only written words, when it's actually difficult to get a handle even with sound.

So much is in the feel of the player, who, conscious of their natural playing dynamics, is instantly aware when compression is doing something, but the listener cannot share that tactile experience. So we watch A/B videos and wonder if the £200 box the guy just stomped on does anything other than ignite an LED.

Well, against that backdrop I'm going to get brave and share my experience with the conflict ridden concept that is compression. I moved all my utility type stuff to the @rse end of my signal chain. HPF, Compressor, Noise reduction, the lot. And it made a fantastic difference. Especially when using filters (wise old bassists nod and stroke their beards).

I actually believe the bassist's compressor comes into its own in a band scenario - when backline is not going to the desk, i.e most gigs, which is why it's tough to notice much difference in your bedroom. Also it's not strictly speaking an effect. Assuming you use the word effect to mean manipulates and dramatically changes the sound. But moving it to the end made a big noticeable difference to me. The effects which can be a tad quiet or loud when engaged seemed to sit better in the overall volume. The crazy Fwonk stomps were a little more tamed without being put on a lead. Imagine a hungry tiger in a corridor rather than lose in an open plan office. He's still pretty scary but within manageable confines.

Oh and while I'm in this can of worms can i put in a vote for the humble Zoom multi effects collection and their 160 Comp. I haven't used 1000s of compressors yet so I'm not comparing it with that many, but I've used a few and this is one of the best to my way of thinking. The controls seem to do exactly what I expect, and it's possible to 'dial in' as I've heard the trendy kids say, way too much compression so I can actually hear what it's doing, and then ease it back to a suitable level. By far the best way for me to approach things. Because I'm an addict I have zero concept of the word 'enough' and so gradually turning something up until it's right and then stopping doesn't compute. I always want to see what 'more' will achieve. I'm much better backing off to a good level and staying there.

So there you have it. My rambling inconsequential offering for today. Shove all that controlling gubbins to then end instead of the start, set it up to extremes and back it off until stuff sounds good, and don't spend a fortune when a cheap multi effect might well be all you need.

image.png.02318c254d712a732a6c6796c61b5dd7.png

And your point is? 🤣

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More seriously we are exhorted to put compressors before distortion/overdrive pedals.

This can help make sure the effect is balanced as you go up the neck as such effects tend to fade out otherwise.

But the cost is you lose a lot of the subtlety of changing tone you get as notes attack and fade that guitarists revel in.

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35 minutes ago, Thunderbird said:

@stewblacka little off topic but in one of your pics I'm sure I saw that you were using a nux bumblebee board my question is do you think it's worth the money and how many boss sized pedals do you think I would get on it? As I'm not sure whether to get a medium or large one when funds allow 👍

I love it! It isn't really all that expensive compared with boards that have zero flexibility. You can customise it to hell and back, comes with an excellent cable tidy system decent 3M rather than velcro and an allen key.

I will measure up the boss pedal situation

 

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21 minutes ago, Stub Mandrel said:

And your point is? 🤣

No one told me I had to have a point dammit. I want my money back

 

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17 minutes ago, stewblack said:

I love it! It isn't really all that expensive compared with boards that have zero flexibility. You can customise it to hell and back, comes with an excellent cable tidy system decent 3M rather than velcro and an allen key.

I will measure up the boss pedal situation

 

Thanks stew your a gent 👍

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I’ve had times where I’ve used more than 1 in the chain, set differently depending on position.

 

I still do that in my Helix.

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3 minutes ago, fretmeister said:

I’ve had times where I’ve used more than 1 in the chain, set differently depending on position.

 

I still do that in my Helix.

Crazy talk

 

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I recently bought a TC Electronic SpetraComp, and, while I can see how it could be a really great compressor in certain contexts, after fiddling with the Toneprint editor quite a bit I went back to using the 160 Comp model of the DBX 160A compressor in my Zoom G1Xon, concluding that for my use it gave me just about the absolute perfect compression, mind on a fairly subtle compression setting (Threshold: -7 / Ratio: 2.5 / Gain: 7 / Knee: Hard / Level: 50 (which happens to be unity)).

I got mine placed towards the end of my signal chain too, before my reverb effects, which I am also using the Zoom G1Xon for, but before my EHX Black Finger, tube driven optical compressor, which is set to a really subtle compression with a quite high threshold and fairly slow attack time, really functioning more as my tube preamp stage than as an actual compressor, then followed by my EQ stage, which is taken care of by my Zoom MS-70 CDR, using 6 of the 2 band fully parametric bass equalizer models, 2 of them (as in 4 bands) used to shape a LPF that starts to cut off from just about 4kHz with a downward slope of about 9 dB/Oct, and then a Behringer BEQ700 Bass Graphic Equalizer, which is also working as a volume control, since it after that goes directly into the Effects Return, poweramp input, of my Peavey Solo Special 112, 160W solid state guitar amp, with it's build in 12" guitar speaker unit disconnected and the amp instead hooked up to a SWR Triad I 400W bass cab. 

Edited by Baloney Balderdash

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19 minutes ago, Baloney Balderdash said:

 I went back to using the 160 Comp model of the DBX 160A compressor in my Zoom G1Xon,

We obviously have a lot in common.

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I use two in some cases. One permanently on on my amp, and a boost compressor on my pedal board. I have the one on the amp on just because it's there and it has a pretty light. I use the boost to even out the sound whilst using an octaver, but it acts more like an eq than anything else. 

Other than that I can't really hear any difference when using one. I'm sure it's there, but to my ear there's very little, if any difference. I must admit, I don't really get the compressor thing. 

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21 hours ago, Thunderbird said:

So is using the compression at the end just keeping all of the effects at near enough equal volumes or does it have a more different subtle effect 🤔

Largely depends on how you have it dialed in.

I need to be able to go from very quiet when picking softly to full on punchy and snappy when digging in, and everything in between, and too much compression makes that impossible, as you mentioned making everything more or less having the same volume, regardless of your picking intensity, or at least decreasing the dynamic range considerably. 

Compression can be used with the purpose you mention in mind, to equal out the signal volume wise, but in my case, using a quite subtle compression, it really has a fairly minimal influence on the dynamic range of my signal, and rather just smooth out the frequency balance of my bass signal slightly, as well as it emphasis the attack a bit, making my bass sound a bit tighter and a bit more focused and articulate, which becomes particularly apparent when using my high gain, quite fuzzy and heavy, distortion setup.

I guess it is a fairly subtle effect, but for me even relatively small differences in my tone can be quite essential, which I guess might stem from me having produced, mixed and mastered my own music for years, developing my focus on and sense for the more subtle tonal details. 

 

Edited by Baloney Balderdash
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27 minutes ago, Baloney Balderdash said:

Largely depends on how you have it dialed in.

I need to be able to go from very quiet when picking softly to full on punchy and snappy when digging in, and everything in between, and too much compression makes that impossible, as you mentioned making everything more or less having the same volume, regardless of your picking intensity, or at least decreasing the dynamic range considerably. 

It can be used with the purpose you mention in mind, to equal out the signal volume wise, but in my case, using a quite subtle compression, it really has a fairly minimal influence on the dynamic range of my signal, and rather just smooth out the frequency balance of my bass signal slightly, as well as it emphasis the attack a bit, making my bass sound a bit tighter and a bit more focused and articulate, which becomes particularly apparent when using my high gain, quite fuzzy and heavy, distortion setup.

I guess it is a fairly subtle effect, but for me even relatively small differences in my tone can be quite essential, which I guess might stem from me having produced/mixed/mastered my own music for years, developing my focus on and sense for the more subtle tonal details. 

 

Awesome I must admit I don't really understand the black art of compression fully but I agree it's very subtle I just go with what sounds good to me and adjust to taste 

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1 hour ago, Thunderbird said:

Awesome I must admit I don't really understand the black art of compression fully but I agree it's very subtle I just go with what sounds good to me and adjust to taste 

That's still largely how I approach dialing in tones and producing/mixing/mastering tracks, even if I over the years have developed a much better idea of how exactly different effects work and what exactly the different parameters/controls on them do, which helps a lot with shortening the adding/subtracting effects and dialing in parameters, trial and error, adapting and adjusting while listening, procedure considerably. 

The only right way to do it as far as I am concerned, what works works, regardless of what in theory works or whatever you might otherwise think works or not.

There are no rules in music, only guidelines which works best if you don't follow them fanatically and blindly (deafly?).  

Experiment and always trust and follow your ears whenever you are dealing with music.

 

Edited by Baloney Balderdash

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20 hours ago, Thunderbird said:

Thanks stew your a gent 👍

👆

I reckon 10 Boss pedals will fit with relative comfort and no funny angles.

The biggest drawback I have found is the underground carpark is just mm too low for a Boss pedal. I use this space to park my always on pedals and power supply (and a spaghetti junction of power and patch cables).

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