Truly, you’re not meant to do much with these as the usable range is quite limited. Like an EQ pedal, compressors can also help you punch through a mix. If you like the sound, you’re in luck. In 1987, Tube-Tech founder John G. Petersen unveiled the CL-1B compressor, his take on the classic optical compression method pioneered by the Teletronix LA-2A – but with an additional level of control (unlike the LA-2A, the CL1B’s ratio, threshold, attack and release settings can all be changed manually). Like the Cali76, there’s LED-based metering, rendered in a strip of lights across the top of the unit. Slap in on your board and get to playing. The hardware retails for around £2,300. Ultimately, when your compressor is dialed in correctly for your needs, playing can be easier and the feeling under the fingers can be more satisfying. It’s probably the most well known optical compressor and many engineers all-time favorite for vocals. They also more and more often feature a blend knob that allows you to dial in your preferred amount of the original, uncompressed signal. There are plenty of used examples on Reverb for under $100, as well. We felt like it merited inclusion both for the novelty of having no surface controls, but also because the original is a pretty distinct sound. The result is a more even, controlled tone that makes your total output more consistent and perceptibly louder. Out of these cookies, the cookies that are categorized as necessary are stored on your browser as they are essential for the working of basic functionalities of the website. LEDs in the knobs allow for quick reference on dark stages, and these can be defeated with a switch at the top, if desired. After spending a little time with it, I feel strongly that this is an excellent value and deserves strong consideration, even if it isn’t as multi-faceted as other options. The controls are as you’d expect, though again condensed from the above. You can use this to pickup match, but also to affect some change to the threshold by muting the incoming signal somewhat. If you can relinquish a little bit of control compared to the Cali76 above (as well as a little pedalboard room), you can get many of the same features at a notably lower price. Since that day more than 16,000 of the single-channel units have left the company’s Denmark headquarters for studios all over the world, where it has found a legion of fans who use it to treat (and track) everything from vocals and bass, to guitars and keys. Most pedals available today offer more control than that, mapping to one of the parameters above. Though it’s optimized for guitar, it has a very wide frequency response and can be used for a variety of sources. It’s not as fully-realized a compression tool as many of the others on this list, but it will also save you from endless tweaking when you really just need really good compression without much else in the way. All of the usual parameters of ratio, attack, and release are fixed. When it turns yellow, gain reduction is up to 27dB, with a maximum of 38dB. Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. You'll hear some folks refer to this as "squishing" your signal. That’s not to say you can’t get results with slightly more grit: extreme settings can deliver some very tasty valve saturation. This is very useful in maintaining the transient response and pick attack at the front of the note, which helps them play especially well with modulation effects and mild overdrive. Author David Felton 13th November, 2012, The Best... - Top Ten Most Underrated Synths, The Best... - Ten Of The Best: Studio Monitors. Optical compressors are popular because of the organic sounding attack and release that they have. Turning the High Cut Filter off will result in more high end content, while flipping the Input Pad down turns it on, offsetting higher-output pickups that might clip and rolling off some low end. Here are some great options based on the optical sound of the LA-2A. Set it to about 11 o’clock for the flattest setting. Dynamic range is, in the simplest terms, the highest and lowest points of volume from a given sound source. Compressors can sometimes be quite noisy since one of the quiet things they’re boosting is the noise floor. The evident controls on this are Volume, Blend, and a switch that selects between Hi, Mid, and Lo compression levels. A compressor pedal can perform a variety of jobs depending on where you place it in your guitar signal chain and what style of compressor you choose. Discover 15 of the best options for a guitar compressor pedal to help you master your playing dynamics. Anytime you do this unique laws of physics come into play that otherwise aren’t available if energy stays in its original form. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking the CL-1B isn’t doing much – even when pushed hard. Controls are the same as the Walrus Audio above with Sustain, Level, Attack, and Blend. Attack, Release, Level, and Ratio all do the jobs you expect them to do. A nice little bonus feature to augment the function and push it ever further toward studio compressors. If you are a very passionate player who tends to hit the strings harder as the show goes on, but you don't want your signal getting out of control, you might consider one. The jewel light LED works as a visual readout for the amount of compression taking place. Controls on this include Blend, Volume, Sustain, and switches for Tone and Attack. Compression for a guitar player usually takes the form of a pedal, though certainly plugins in your DAW or a rack console might also do this job. Trimming the bass frequencies can help you to stand out in a mix, while the internal power rail boosts voltage up to 18V, giving you lots of dynamic headroom. Based on the legendary Urei 1176, and on its own predecessor Cali76, this pedal is probably the finest pedal-based compressor going. The amount of compression on tap in this unit can get extreme, but use of the Blend knob will preserve a natural sound and feel. Overall, this is a truly contemporary compressor, with a unique sound which bears comparison to the vintage classics. Controls on The Bends include Drive, Recovery, Blend, and Level. The Ratio switch selects between 3:1, 6:1, and 12:1 compression settings. The LED indicates activity, getting brighter with higher gain reduction. Andertons have a nice overview of the Cali76. This is fairly commonly available used on Reverb, if you want to save a few bucks. The Tone knob dials in the amount of coloration you want, which is a specifically-designed element of this pedal. Their compressor is no different, combining a Urei 1176 style FET circuit with simple controls that more closely mirror vintage pedals. These cookies do not store any personal information. Still, that doesn't mean you won't want one. Typically the domain of the mixing and/or mastering engineer, guitarists are well served by knowing what a compressor is and what it does. Additionally, Tone knobs are becoming very prevalent, which allows you to dial the effect in to match your sound. Curtis Kent offers a solid demo of The Warden. “What’s the big deal with optical compressors?There seems to be a lot of mystique surrounding them, yet no one really seems to know why?” Think about what a transducer is: a device that changes one form of energy into another. Ultimately, this pedal will work best for relatively limited setups or for pickup matching. Fairfield Circuitry is better known for their stranger concoctions, like the Randy’s Revenge and Shallow Water. Stick it at the front of your chain without eating up too much space. At its core, this is a studio compressor based … If you don’t, you’re going to want to revisit the rest of this list. When it’s red, there is no compression, while orange signals that compression is active and works as a dimmer, getting brighter as more compression is applied. Maybe you have a large tube amplifier with a massive amount of headroom, like, say, a Fender Super Reverb. Controls are Level, Tone, Attack, and Sustain, where in this case sustain is the release time. We've segmented the list into two sections: the first set are normal sized pedals, while the second set are mini pedals, because utility players like these needn't take up a lot of space if you don't want them to. Those controls are Level, Sustain, Blend, and Attack, all of which do their expected jobs. This type of compressor features an LED that grows brighter as the volume level increases. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website. To compete with the options at the top of this list, they also make the M76 Studio Compressor, which has a gain reduction readout and is available in bass flavor, as well. Ratio sets the overall compression amount and the threshold simultaneously. We’ve chosen to feature the mini version for reasons we’ve already discussed, but also because Brian is a wiz at making truly great mini pedals, as we discussed in our overdrive post. For more on amp compression, listen to Rabea Massaad's demo here. The yellow lights in the world toward studio compressors slot, or both else you might need to know it. 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