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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
That Aria is quite interesting. Not much control over the compressor other than a blend control, which for me is the most important feature on a compressor. I like to dial a lot of it out. Seems almost unnecessary for me to even have a compressor as I dial a lot out with a blend knob but I'm more after that feel a compressor can give you, with just a bit of snap, rather than having it be a noticeable effect.
I'm probably not even interested in a compressor with a drive option but was just curious as to how many compressors were out there with that feature and how useful it is.
I'm currently seriously considering the cali76 Compact Deluxe but have to decide whether I want to spend that much on a compressor.
 

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The history of compressors is interesting. In large part, the trend has been toward achieving gain control with as little coloration as possible. Some paths opted for photocells as a way of achieving gain-control with little to no coloration, because photocells don't distort. FETs and transconductance amplifiers (OTA) can distort if not used right. Improvements to OTAs have resulted in cleaner and cleaner devices. The first transconductance amp chip that I'm aware of is the CA3080, which was used in the Dynacomp and Ross. The CA3080 starts to distort with inputs above 100mv or so. The Ross attempted to clean up some of what the basic Dynacomp design did, but still used a 3080. The Dynacomp was never overtly distorted, but it did colour the sound a wee bit. The Boss CS-2 moved to a better OTA - the BA662 - which was developed for their synths. More recently, with the CS-3, they went with an even higher-quality OTA, developed by the THAT corporation. Again, these are chips not explicitly developed for guitar pedals, but for studio gear and synths.

One of my all-time favorite compressors is the old Univox Uni-Comp, which combines a photocell and a pair of clipping diodes on the output. I learned recently that the same strategy was often employed in broadcast studio limters, as a way of very briefly imposing a ceiling on the initial signal level, before the photocells had a chance to work their magic. Their impact was apparently so brief that you wouldn't even hear the clipping.
 

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Mark modded the release time of my Dyna Comp to be faster which made it less colored and it will distort more at high compression levels. High ratio compression with fast attack and release can get close to saturation, unfortunately most pedal compressors don't have a ratio knob but there are guitar limiters which could be modded. Still I think it's better to have 2 pedals for this so you can decide which one goes first, I for example use slow attack compression after the desired tone is achieved to make rock guitars punch in power chords, placing a clipper after this will shave the transients back to where they were.
 

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I have both the Empress and the Cali 76 comps. Both are great, quiet compressors. The Cali has a bit more coloration, but I wouldn’t say it adds any grit. I think the Cali may be slightly easier to dial in, but I’m not sure that would justify the extra cost.
 

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The history of compressors is interesting. In large part, the trend has been toward achieving gain control with as little coloration as possible. Some paths opted for photocells as a way of achieving gain-control with little to no coloration, because photocells don't distort. FETs and transconductance amplifiers (OTA) can distort if not used right. Improvements to OTAs have resulted in cleaner and cleaner devices. The first transconductance amp chip that I'm aware of is the CA3080, which was used in the Dynacomp and Ross. The CA3080 starts to distort with inputs above 100mv or so. The Ross attempted to clean up some of what the basic Dynacomp design did, but still used a 3080. The Dynacomp was never overtly distorted, but it did colour the sound a wee bit. The Boss CS-2 moved to a better OTA - the BA662 - which was developed for their synths. More recently, with the CS-3, they went with an even higher-quality OTA, developed by the THAT corporation. Again, these are chips not explicitly developed for guitar pedals, but for studio gear and synths.

One of my all-time favorite compressors is the old Univox Uni-Comp, which combines a photocell and a pair of clipping diodes on the output. I learned recently that the same strategy was often employed in broadcast studio limters, as a way of very briefly imposing a ceiling on the initial signal level, before the photocells had a chance to work their magic. Their impact was apparently so brief that you wouldn't even hear the clipping.
Funny, when I use a compressor eeeeevvverybody knows it. I could care less if it colors my tone, because I build my tone around the smack of my comp.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Funny, when I use a compressor eeeeevvverybody knows it. I could care less if it colors my tone, because I build my tone around the smack of my comp.
Yes I used to be like that. I used to love the squish, doing the 80's chicken picken. Now I like it for just a little bit of tone enhancement, giving my tele just a bit more bite, spank and sustain without the squish.
 

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I have a compressor with a boost. It is the Strymon OB.1. That maybe something you might want to look at. I'm selling it right now so if you are interested, let me know. LOL
 

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Discussion Starter #14
The volume knob on your tube amp?
Of course silly me. Cause know one cares how loud you have to get your amp in order to achieve that. And heaven forbid you would want to base your tone on a clean foundation thereby getting your gain from pedals.
 

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Of course silly me. Cause know one cares how loud you have to get your amp in order to achieve that. And heaven forbid you would want to base your tone on a clean foundation thereby getting your gain from pedals.
Buy a smaller amp and turn your volume knob down? ;)

It’s a bit tounge in cheek...but only a bit.
 

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Compressor with boost? or am I way off base here

 

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Mark modded the release time of my Dyna Comp to be faster which made it less colored and it will distort more at high compression levels. High ratio compression with fast attack and release can get close to saturation, unfortunately most pedal compressors don't have a ratio knob but there are guitar limiters which could be modded. Still I think it's better to have 2 pedals for this so you can decide which one goes first, I for example use slow attack compression after the desired tone is achieved to make rock guitars punch in power chords, placing a clipper after this will shave the transients back to where they were.
For many years, the CA3080, used in the Dynacomp and so many other devices, was pretty much the only choice for a transconductance amplifier (OTA). Its weakness was and is that it was not especially tolerant of higher amplitude signals. The CA3280 was better, but could also stand some improvement. Roland went ahead and got some improved OTAs made. The BA6110, which I think was used in the CS-2 is better than the 3080, but the proprietary BA662, which they used for their synths, was even better. Now they use OTAs made by THAT Corp., which are pretty much the benchmark these days.
All of which is the long way of saying that there is a reason why the Dynacomp provides coloration and saturation, and why newer ones (which I think use the LM13700) likely don't, unless pushed VERY hard. (if the image doesn't show up for you, it's at: http://www.oldcrows.net/~patchell/archives/ca3280_6.gif )
 

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I have a Super Comp, which (if I understand right) is just a Dyna Comp with an extra knob to adjust the "Attack".

I presume that "Attack" idea is about how quickly the compressor clamps down on the signal.

I had always assumed that I could use this pedal like a clean boost, just by raising the output level, lowering the sensitivity, and maximizing the "attack" knob.

I haven't actually tried that, but I will.

It's curious to me that the MXR specs don't mention how much db I can add with the Output knob. I'm sure it's not zero.
 

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I have a Super Comp, which (if I understand right) is just a Dyna Comp with an extra knob to adjust the "Attack".

I presume that "Attack" idea is about how quickly the compressor clamps down on the signal.

I had always assumed that I could use this pedal like a clean boost, just by raising the output level, lowering the sensitivity, and maximizing the "attack" knob.

I haven't actually tried that, but I will.

It's curious to me that the MXR specs don't mention how much db I can add with the Output knob. I'm sure it's not zero.
Actually, no. But MXR is not alone in committing that particular sin, and your misunderstanding is most certainly not unique to you. It adjusts how quickly the circuit restores full gain. Stock, a Dynacomp takes a little while to restore or "recover" full gain. Great for holding notes for a long time, since the gain gets raised gradually, creating the illusion of sustain. But one of the side-effects is that while the gain is suppressed, the pick attack of any notes that follow the first one too quickly is pushed to the background. Shortening/speeding-up the "gain-recovery" time allows the attack of any immediate subsequent notes to be heard more clearly. Manufacturers who added it to the basic compression circuit pretty well all labelled it "Attack", for that reason. The first to dare to call it what it is was Fender, with their current Bends compressor pedal. When I was at NAMM last year, I felt compelled to tell pedal-unit manager Stan Cotey how pleased I was that they finally called it what it is. Made him smile.

Because that control simply adjusts the time required to restore full gain, it tends to be one of those controls that yield different audible outcomes, depending on how you pick. Leave enough space between notes, and you won't notice any audible difference between the 7:00 and 5:00 settings. Do some chicken-pickin', however, and you'll appreciate a faster gain-recovery time. I modded forum member amagras' Dynacomp to have several gain-recovery times toggle-selectable, and he finds it greatly improves the usability of the pedal.
 
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