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Bass Compressors - Here we go again


ViVino

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I haven't been playing live for a while (10 years infact) and recently got myself jamming in a 3 piece and taking things further is on the horizon. For this i'm building a pedal board up, not too much to play with. An envelope, octave and fuzz box.

 

So, the big question, compressors. Which and where?

 

I always had my eye on an MXR M87 over the years, but I'm kinda struck by the Empress or the Cali76. They seem to be the go to now days.

 

However, as all I've ever done over the past few years is studio based playing, i own a DBX 160A sat in the rack at home. This thing is incredible but it comes at a cost. It's rackmount, and it'll have to go last in the chain or in the FX loop. I'd really rather not lug it around if I can find something to replace it.

 

Currently I'm running a Boss LMB3, set up just as a limiter really, before going into my QTron. And then some onboard compression on my amp after, but the Boss just doesn't cut the mustard for me as a fully fledged compressor.

 

Do I fork out for something of higher quality or do I bite the bullet roll with the 160A (it just seems overkill). I really would like to keep it simple, cost isn't so much an issue, but a second hand M87 vs the other options is a big difference if its purpose is the same and the quality is there.

 

Any help, advice and direction would be greatly appreciated.

 

Many Thanks, Nick

 

 

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DBX made an MC6 which is apparently similar to the 160A but in a smaller size. 

 

I found the M87 to be a bit characterless and took the life out of low notes (needs a clean blend or hpf sidechain). That's me playing dub and reggae with a 5 string though. 

 

Empress, Cali 76, Opti-FET, Markbass are all great. I haven't used the new Source Audio Atlas but I expect it can do a 160A emulation. 

 

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Is one really needed? I ask as I’ve found that at home practice volumes I like compression but with the band I really dislike it. I’ve tried to get on with it but just can’t.

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On 02/08/2022 at 09:23, itu said:

www.ovnilab.com

 

Wow, what a great website. It has all the information I would ever need !

 

On 02/08/2022 at 18:40, Lozz196 said:

Is one really needed? I ask as I’ve found that at home practice volumes I like compression but with the band I really dislike it. I’ve tried to get on with it but just can’t.

 

Interesting stuff, I think I will take the DBX down for practice and see how I get on, and then go from there. I have always had trouble with having a large dynamic ranges and playing with different techniques so I want it just to even everything out. 

 

We'll see how I get playing with what I have a then go from there. thanks for the responses!

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On 02/08/2022 at 18:40, Lozz196 said:

Is one really needed? I ask as I’ve found that at home practice volumes I like compression but with the band I really dislike it. I’ve tried to get on with it but just can’t.

 

Don't judge whether you need a compressor from being on a stage, get someone who really knows what they're doing to listen out front when the band is playing. If you are using a compressor properly, you shouldn't notice much of a difference until you turn it off. The idea is that it should help the bass find its place in the mix... 

 

Edited by peteb
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35 minutes ago, Lozz196 said:

I wish I could get there Pete, but it just eludes me no matter how I set them (aside from off that is)…..

 

Oh I struggled for ages to get it right, especially when I moved away from a simple two knob pedal. In the end I got a studio engineer (who was also a bass player and had the same comp pedal) to show me the settings he used. I just copied him and it sounds spot on now...

 

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3 hours ago, Lozz196 said:

I wish I could get there Pete, but it just eludes me no matter how I set them (aside from off that is)…..

 

2 hours ago, peteb said:

 

Oh I struggled for ages to get it right, especially when I moved away from a simple two knob pedal. In the end I got a studio engineer (who was also a bass player and had the same comp pedal) to show me the settings he used. I just copied him and it sounds spot on now...

 

I tried to replicate the settings a FOH engineer (he is also a top guitarist and song writer) suggested to me for a recording I had made that made a real difference. I think I managed it with my M87.

Edited by ezbass
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Compression is a Dark Art'  learn the fundamentals of using it & just why you need to use it...

Origin's Cali 76 Compact Bass for myself is The Unit'  but its expensive & it takes time learning how & why  it works for you.

GOOD HUNTING.....( ive used both MXR M87 & BOSS' they are not' in the same class as the Cali 76 for myself)

Edited by paulo m
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On 04/08/2022 at 10:51, peteb said:

 

Oh I struggled for ages to get it right, especially when I moved away from a simple two knob pedal. In the end I got a studio engineer (who was also a bass player and had the same comp pedal) to show me the settings he used. I just copied him and it sounds spot on now...

 

What comp do you use? 

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Compressors... Interesting reading... often alluded to like a automatic recoeding level, reducing dynamic range... to achieve a degree of consistancy

 

I (sort of) understand Threshold, Attack and Release etc. But how does this fit in or work in a single 'Compression' control on say my Marshall Bass Combo...

 

Described in the range brocure...

A Variable Compressor smoothes your sound into a solid wall of low frequencies while the additional Limiter prevents power amp clipping.

 

And in the handbook...

The Compressor smoothes out your bass sound. As you increase the amount of compression, so you flatten out the peaks in the incoming signal. When the compression reaches its threshold the LED will change to red.

 

Single control is likely to just be 'Threshold' (to a fixex ratio) Or might it also effect the Ratio as it is turned up?

 

Thanks for those that may have the time (and patience) to respond... I wont to get a fuller understanding of a Single Control - and how to determine the effect of compression - before i have a look at the various compressor options of the Zoom B1on.

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On 04/08/2022 at 19:50, paulo m said:

Compression is a Dark Art'  learn the fundamentals of using it & just why you need to use it...

Origin's Cali 76 Compact Bass for myself is The Unit'  but its expensive & it takes time learning how & why  it works for you.

GOOD HUNTING.....( ive used both MXR M87 & BOSS' they are not' in the same class as the Cali 76 for myself)

 

Is the Cali really that much of a step up from the MXR?

 

The Boss LMB3 is just such a tone suck it's ridiculous. It sounds like it also has a low pass filter built in! I'm assuming the MXR is nothing like this. From looking around I really can't justify double the money for the Cali. The MXR will definitely do what I need it to do and I like the idea of visible metering. 

 

So next question I guess, where are people putting these in conjunction with other pedals? Do I just pop it through the FX loop or have it first in the chain ? I use an envelope filter and octave and have read some conflicting information about placement. 

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Greetings' the difference between the MXR M87 & the CALI 76  is( NIGHT &  DAY ) for myself!!  

the Origin Compressor is a  far' far  superior sound  Punchy' Fat' with Sparkling high end..

The H.P.F makes a big difference also allowing the lows through Uncompressed'

You get what you pay for' place the comp first.. then you are sending a uniform signal to the Octaver  which will track better' then your envelope filter...

Use your ears....the metering on the MXR is a good move but' gimmicky....the  Boss pedal simply doesnt compare whatsoever to these others.

The jewel metering on the cali isnt the best but' i ive suggested  USE YOUR EARS....& Experiment.


 

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Cali poo’s on the MXR IMHO

I also have the FEA Labs OptiFET which is phenomenal - gives me a different sound with its dipswitches.

 

if someone you know has a Darkglass Hyperluminal - borrow it and play with it - the Cali model is fairly accurate, BUS compression and it’s own SuperSymmetry model.

That would give you an all In one box fiddle tool in how not only To work compression, but also how each sounds different and then pick the one you like 

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6 hours ago, ViVino said:

The Boss LMB3 is just such a tone suck it's ridiculous. It sounds like it also has a low pass filter built in! I'm assuming the MXR is nothing like this. From looking around I really can't justify double the money for the Cali. The MXR will definitely do what I need it to do and I like the idea of visible metering.  

 

Some interesting comments on the Boss LMB-3 there 😀 For balance, I have had 3 different ones over the years* and none of them have had any tone suck. My old Boss TU-2 started to suck tone but it was some 20 years old so I assume a component was on the way out, a similar thing could be happening with your LMB-3, perhaps?

 

*I've been gigging them on and off for 20 odd years but I keep selling them on thinking that oh it's only a Boss, I'll get something 'better' i.e. more expensive, but I eventually end up back with another LMB!

 

For the record, I have been through quite a few different compressors, from a couple of rack units to numerous pedal comps both analogue and digital, and have done the whole multi-band and parallel compression thing too. But there's just something about the Boss that works for me - although it may not work for everyone. It's the punchiest compressor that I have ever used, it's not totally transparent but not overly coloured either but it's that punch that it delivers that I have never been able to replicate with any other compressor. They're cheap as chips, simple to use and, IME, sound great in the context of a live mix. And certainly no noticeable tone suck from any of the units that I have owned! 

 

As a few others have already said, the Cali is the holy grail of comp pedals and is arguably in a different league to the LMB, but that doesn't immediately make the Boss, the MXR or any other comp not worth bothering with. Having used a Cali, it really is a fantastic pedal but is very coloured, something you may or may not want from a compressor. The only reason I didn't end up with one is that I didn't like the colour of the Cali when combined with my pre-amp pedal, and having been through a shed load of pre-amps over the years the one I have now is the absolutely perfect so I'm loathed to go though the perfect pre-amp pedal merry go round to compliment the Cali! But on its own, the tonal magic of the Cali is part of its appeal. But the Cali is also a more complex pedal and you really need to understand the principles of compression to get the best out of it. 

Edited by Osiris
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I used to have the LMB-3 and it’s OK for what it is, as long as you turn the enhance circuit down, or off.  I guess we’re splitting hairs between the market leader compressors, and most people don’t have the money, or patience, to try loads out.  I ended up getting the Hyper Luminal for the versatility, and cannot fault it.  I’m sure the Origin Effects comps will be just as good, possibly even better, but the HL is a keeper. 

244A75EE-E53E-4AB2-A6A6-79316F5031E5.jpeg

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2056877051_PhotonDeathRay.jpeg.8791d007a60d64c07099285e28b39846.thumb.jpeg.b18518cc44d68a76feeac571af7ea68e.jpeg

The Doc Lloyd is an amazing bass comp.

Of course there's also the TC Spectracomp, plenty of toneprints and if you can't find one to suit, you can use the app to get exactly what you want, and it's tri band if you need.... and cheap!

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The MXR is super clean, too clinical for my taste eventually as I sold it after a year or two. I wanted something with a little life, flavour, juice to it. Tried the Cali compact bass but didn't get on with the controls. Switched to the Compact Deluxe and that's it! Perfection.

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