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Compressor misconceptions


DiMarco

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1 hour ago, Osiris said:

Around 2 years ago my Helix Stomp crapped out half way through the second set of a pub gig, I've mentioned this before. The band was using IEM's at the time so I had no backline with me. It was a pretty typical pub gig, the venue itself know for its live music, not just a pub with a band up the corner. Anyway, my Stomp died and there was no bass signal for the last half a dozen songs. You could count on no fingers the number of people who stopped dancing.

Not one. 

I got some hand signals from a guy who was indicating that he couldn't hear the bass but other than that nobody else appeared to notice. The guy spoke to me after we'd finished playing and it turned out he was another bass player. 

At best you're a guitarist in the band as far as almost every punter is concerned. 

Don't believe me? At the next gig you do stop playing half way through a song and see how many of the audience notice. Report back here with your findings.

you obviously aren't loud enough, at one gig my amp packed up, believe me it was very noticeable and everybody seems to notice when I play a bum note  😂

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1 hour ago, Osiris said:

Don't believe me? At the next gig you do stop playing half way through a song and see how many of the audience notice. Report back here with your findings

I believe you but I also believe the audience was likely having too good of a time to care even if they did notice something off.

On the other hand, if I can't make a rehearsal it gets resheduled. Anyone else and it carries on.

I think your challenge is only applying well to very loud bands where it's hard to hear much of anything for all the everything louder than everything else. Any jazz player knows what dropping out the bass does!

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5 hours ago, Downunderwonder said:

I believe you but I also believe the audience was likely having too good of a time to care even if they did notice something off.

On the other hand, if I can't make a rehearsal it gets resheduled. Anyone else and it carries on.

I think your challenge is only applying well to very loud bands where it's hard to hear much of anything for all the everything louder than everything else. Any jazz player knows what dropping out the bass does!

And would the band be too loud because they fail to adopt the use of compression as a way to help make sure the sound is balanced and this could play at a lower volume instead of the continual turn up war that can happen?

Surely it’s no lesser question/request than the one asking for compressors to be turned on and off during the song and proof of sound change/audience reaction?

The Cadillac Three are a reasonably successful country/rock band who have no bassist, I don’t think anyone tells them they need a bassist to be successful (as an example)

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7 hours ago, Al Krow said:

And still it goes on, and on, and on... 

Must have been one of those old 50p coins ..😂

The thread actually got bumped because a person went out to see what compression could do and started hearing the effects of its benefit and posted about it.

I’ll say this from a neutral position (even though some may say I’m not).

To dismiss something’s lack of importance properly, it can only be done from a point of genuine and decent working knowledge on it, not apparent by just quotating buzz phrases and words - I see this all the time in my work.....

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5 hours ago, Downunderwonder said:

I believe you but I also believe the audience was likely having too good of a time to care even if they did notice something off.

Yes, I'd agree with that. In my opinion and experience, to regular punters a pub band is usually judged by the quality of the singer and the type of material they're playing. Also, IMO, most pub crowds prefer a second, or even third, rate Oasis cover to a musically perfect, uncompressed, original composition - simply because they've usually had a few drinks and they want to sing along and dance with their friends rather than spend the evening analysing the individual components of the song. 

5 hours ago, Downunderwonder said:

I think your challenge is only applying well to very loud bands where it's hard to hear much of anything for all the everything louder than everything else. Any jazz player knows what dropping out the bass does!

The challenge was issued in response to the following statement, 

10 hours ago, Al Krow said:

 

Oh and when you say: "Just about everything about the bass and bass player will go unnoticed by the average pub crowd", I'm afraid I completely disagree with that statement! But that's a whole 'nother topic!

As Al Krow is focusing exclusively on the use of pedal compressors by pub bands, my challenge to him is based on the band's he plays in which, AFAICT, are your 60's to contemporary rock and pop bands. Pub band volume tends to vary between barely controlled to way too loud. These bands are ubiquitous on the UK pub scene, jazz bands don't really crop up in the UK pub scene. Jazz really isn't my thing so I'm happy to take your word for its noticeable absence if it were to drop out. But my challenge to Al remains - stop playing half way through a song and see who notices, count the people who stop dancing and report back here with the findings. 

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40 minutes ago, Osiris said:

Yes, I'd agree with that. In my opinion and experience, to regular punters a pub band is usually judged by the quality of the singer and the type of material they're playing. Also, IMO, most pub crowds prefer a second, or even third, rate Oasis cover to a musically perfect, uncompressed, original composition - simply because they've usually had a few drinks and they want to sing along and dance with their friends rather than spend the evening analysing the individual components of the song. 

The challenge was issued in response to the following statement, 

As Al Krow is focusing exclusively on the use of pedal compressors by pub bands, my challenge to him is based on the band's he plays in which, AFAICT, are your 60's to contemporary rock and pop bands. Pub band volume tends to vary between barely controlled to way too loud. These bands are ubiquitous on the UK pub scene, jazz bands don't really crop up in the UK pub scene. Jazz really isn't my thing so I'm happy to take your word for its noticeable absence if it were to drop out. But my challenge to Al remains - stop playing half way through a song and see who notices, count the people who stop dancing and report back here with the findings. 

Going by the frequency I read of BC bassists using a 210 or a couple of 110's or a single 112 or 115 I feel the average UK pub band is a bit more under control than you make out.

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Surely there's a real logical fallacy that needs pointing out regarding @Al Krow's request for compression efficacy live?

 

In order to attempt to show that a good compressor set up well is worth less than other FX on bass he needs to provide evidence that those other FX, at unity gain to them not being on, have a greater affect on audience enjoyment.

 

Good luck with that, I've never met a punter who was enjoying a band who could differentiate between what a bass guitar and a keyboard players left hand added to the mix, let alone the importance of fuzz over overdriven over clean or a bit of chorus or an octave or, well any of it.

So the assertion that compression is of less use in a pub band setting is rather difficult to prove without a more detailed scientific experiment.

The irony being that compression was popularised by the loudness war between Motown and the Beatles in the mid 60's, given Al's preferred era to bang out down the dog and duck...

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22 minutes ago, Downunderwonder said:

Going by the frequency I read of BC bassists using a 210 or a couple of 110's or a single 112 or 115 I feel the average UK pub band is a bit more under control than you make out.

Mine isn't, must be all the compression 🤪

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Posted (edited)

I’ve maybe said this before and forgive me if I have. Compression can be as subtle or overt as the user determines/wants it to be in the same way any effect can be subtle or overt. A touch of preamp boost or very light dirt can enhance the bass tone - but it’s not discernible as being driven or dirty. Compression can enhance a bass tone too to where it’s not pumping away but it’s helping. Making comparisons between the impact different types of effect have and if they’ll be noticed by the audience is not really the argument but often a default- sure engage a wah or a quacky filter. It’s probably gonna be noticed (if it’s been set up correctly and the player wants it to be a prominent effect) but unlikely one would leave it on for every track the way they may set and forget a good solid comp tone. 

A lot of the commenters on here have compression pedals and I hope would have used them enough in isolation at home to hear what they’re doing even if a super pumping squished tone at extreme settings isn’t to their taste. We can dismiss the ‘two gigs a year’ players for telling us weekend warriors how to use our gear but if old #2Gigs is playing those two gig with their compressor pedals and has a solid understanding of how it will work for them is that a more experienced opinion over the pedal hoarders who don’t use pedals on any of their gigs -!who’s the more informed? 
 

Below is an example have a listen to the clip below and tell me if you can notice the compression working - it’s being fed off a single mic and an eq.


Scoot to about 6:00 on this clip. Many folk will recognise that drum sound. Sure it’s not a bass track I just really like compression and drums 😀

As others have said it doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme, views and opinions can change or take a zigzag depending on new ideas, exposure to more home recording, you tube rabbit holes etc 

Edited by krispn
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11 hours ago, 51m0n said:

 

@Happy Jack is about the only BCer who has seen my band in play, ask him if we sounded ok as we happily spent an evening making music for a paltry audience in a tiny pub for the joy of playing music we like, and almost only we like 😆

In all fairness, @Silvia Bluejay was there too and she has much better ears than I do. 🧐

I tend to avoid these topics since they end up being so sterile but, seeing as I'm here, here's my tupp'orth.

My hearing was never that great to start with, and adding pretty severe tinnitus has done absolutely nothing to help. I've never been able to distinguish between tonewoods or between active/passive or between cheap/expensive basses. I hear the output and decide whether or not I like it.

I've tried compression, everything from one-knob pedals to DBX166 rackmounts. I don't know how to use such stuff properly, I hate devices with lots of knobs and switches, and I've never understood the attractions of "transparency" ... if I can't hear what it's doing then how do I know it's doing something?

So that must put me in the Anti camp, right? Nope, not a bit of it. 

I am well aware that pretty much every serious musician, recording studio and radio station uses compression as a basic tool all the time, on everything. What that tells me is that compression is great, it's my lack of understanding that's the problem here.

So I live with it, and stay away from topics about compression ...

 

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We use a bit of compression on all channels on our live set for both bands, but especially Damo And The Dynamites. I started from the default settings recommended for each instrument, then trusted my ears while adjusting the knee, attack, release etc. I'm not an expert, so it helps that the tablet allows me to move graphic representations as opposed to having to enter numbers.

Yes, I've sort of learned the recommended numerical values, but I'd rather not have to be thinking of those while I'm mixing the band live, on the fly, in a windy car park or in a crappy room with poor acoustics that always sound different from the previous time we were there. :)

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13 minutes ago, Happy Jack said:

My hearing was never that great to start with, and adding pretty severe tinnitus has done absolutely nothing to help. I've never been able to distinguish between tonewoods or between active/passive or between cheap/expensive basses. I hear the output and decide whether or not I like it.

Oh dear Jack please don't restart the Tonewood wars. Most of those that believe in Tonewood are actively AntiVaxing at the moment and it would not be a fair fight.

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Well I have found the whole of this thread exceedingly interesting but it has not changed my views that blue painted compression pedals are far superior to red painted compression pedals, to my 70 year old Tinnitus ears. The blue ones sit much better in the mix than red ones down the Dog & Duck. (BTW I've had my 2nd jab)

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6 minutes ago, JohnDaBass said:

Well I have found the whole of this thread exceedingly interesting but it has not changed my views that blue painted compression pedals are far superior to red painted compression pedals, to my 70 year old Tinnitus ears. The blue ones sit much better in the mix than red ones down the Dog & Duck. (BTW I've had my 2nd jab)

Which is the exact opposite when it comes to cars. I'd take a red one over a blue one every single time. My current car is blue and it's an absolute pain in the arse, it's a total drama queen, every time you get in in something starts bleeping and sqwarking and having hissy fits. The [email protected] thing is trying to be too clever for its own good. Maybe I should drive it into a ditch at high speed and see if anyone in the audience notices. 

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12 minutes ago, JohnDaBass said:

Well I have found the whole of this thread exceedingly interesting but it has not changed my views that blue painted compression pedals are far superior to red painted compression pedals, to my 70 year old Tinnitus ears. The blue ones sit much better in the mix than red ones down the Dog & Duck. (BTW I've had my 2nd jab)

Yeah but are we talking TONE PAINT?

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10 minutes ago, Osiris said:

Which is the exact opposite when it comes to cars. I'd take a red one over a blue one every single time. My current car is blue and it's an absolute pain in the arse, it's a total drama queen, every time you get in in something starts bleeping and sqwarking and having hissy fits. The [email protected] thing is trying to be too clever for its own good. Maybe I should drive it into a ditch at high speed and see if anyone in the audience notices. 

Couple of tins of paint would solve all that.

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21 minutes ago, Osiris said:

Which is the exact opposite when it comes to cars. I'd take a red one over a blue one every single time. My current car is blue and it's an absolute pain in the arse, it's a total drama queen, every time you get in in something starts bleeping and sqwarking and having hissy fits. The [email protected] thing is trying to be too clever for its own good. Maybe I should drive it into a ditch at high speed and see if anyone in the audience notices. 

My gig wagon is a Jap import (Toyota Alphard), and a very sophisticated thing it is. When I turn the ignition key, the satnav shows Yokohama harbour and the dash starts talking to me in Japanese.

Seriously.

Wakarima-sen.

 

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2 minutes ago, Happy Jack said:

My gig wagon is a Jap import (Toyota Alphard), and a very sophisticated thing it is. When I turn the ignition key, the satnav shows Yokohama harbour and the dash starts talking to me in Japanese.

Seriously.

Wakarima-sen.

 

It's absolutely true, and we hate it. ;)

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17 minutes ago, Happy Jack said:

My gig wagon is a Jap import (Toyota Alphard), and a very sophisticated thing it is. When I turn the ignition key, the satnav shows Yokohama harbour and the dash starts talking to me in Japanese.

Seriously.

Wakarima-sen.

 

 

14 minutes ago, Silvia Bluejay said:

It's absolutely true, and we hate it. ;)

My mate's wife is Japanese, I'll get her number for you so you can have her on speed dial for real time translations. Would that help? 

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40 minutes ago, BadHands said:

I think you're confusing Al's point with my eye rolling at people getting suggested compressors as their first effect. 

Nope, Al wants people to send in live clips where for some reason the comp on the bass player's pedal board is turned on and off so he can listen and say "That's doing nothing".

I am pointing out that to most audience members you can apply the same thing to almost all fx in a mix. In fact I would go as far as to say, at gig volume, no effect is more important than playing tightly as a band. A badly played rendition of Sledgehammer with Tony Levin's own octaver, chorus and compressor set up exactly how he had them is going to sound worse than a well played version with none of those effects to every single member of an audience. The audience will get more out of the well played version and consider it better. They wont really be able to say why though. But they will dance to the well played one and look askance at the badly played sonic masterpiece.

So Al's point is actually moot, unless Al cares to demonstrate beyond proof that I am wrong in my counter assertion...

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I see your point. In Al's defense, he has a bunch of reasons for not wanting to use them, that's just one of them - However it's the internet, and I can't see everyone suddenly starting to agree, so perhaps we should all be like Fonzie, and let this rest?

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14 minutes ago, 51m0n said:

... so he can listen and say "That's doing nothing".

I am pointing out that to most audience members you can apply the same thing to almost all fx in a mix.

 

I'd go beyond that. Most of the time, when I use FX live even I struggle to hear that effect in the mix and it doesn't get much better when I listen to @Silvia Bluejay's high quality recordings later.

I still use them, because I know that in isolation my chosen FX sound great so the chances are that they are a net benefit to the band sound overall, but can I hear the exact moment at which I kick in the octaver or the distortion? In the main, no.

Did I mention that my hearing is pretty poor these days?

 

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11 minutes ago, BadHands said:

I see your point. In Al's defense, he has a bunch of reasons for not wanting to use them, that's just one of them - However it's the internet, and I can't see everyone suddenly starting to agree, so perhaps we should all be like Fonzie, and let this rest?

Does everyone have to agree for it to be true?

Does it have to be a majority for it to be true?

People can have good reasons for not wanting to use them/it - but to dismiss something as useless/not required etc. (In the fave of good evidence to the contrary, which was asked for and shown)Without proper knowledge of how to use it isn’t the correct basis to make that statement.

I repeat tho, this is about misconceptions this thread - talking about how it is useful is trying to help those that want to hear about it deal with misconceptions, plus, it has been bumped because someone is demonstrating how they are trying to use it and listen to what can happen, trying to submerge it under false pretences is not correct.

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