Compressors Without Meters

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thegummythegummy Frets: 961
As a long time user of studio compressors before I got in to the guitar, something I found odd when using compressor pedals (or at least the ones I used) was the lack of a gain reduction meter.

I know it's best to just listen but with compression I found it hard to judge how much compression is actually being applied. I suppose it's maybe not important to know how much, as long as the sound achieved is right, it's just after years of knowing how much gain reduction I want for certain applications it's weird going in blind.

I've actually considered getting a new compressor pedal that has a meter purely for the meter itself.

Anyone else found that at first but then got used to adjusting by ear? Any tips for doing it?
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  • JezWyndJezWynd Frets: 2492
    I came to it the other way around. Started using pedals with no metering or threshold indicator. I like extreme compression as an effect so the nuances of the process passed me by initially. Later on I started using comps with display and it certainly helps to finesse the application of the effect. I've sung its praises all over the forum, but I'll risk one more tra-la - The Keeley Compressor Pro has a really good metering display which shows threshold and gain reduction. Such a cool box. The Empress does similar and goes a step further with the option to show input levels alone or simultaneously. The Keeley wins for me as it allows higher compression ratios than the Empress, which maxes out at 12:1. Apart from that they sound quite similar. The Empress has a side-chain option which might be useful for some.

    Re judging it by ear - it's easier with an older type comp like the Dyna or similar as the effect is so noticeable once you've crossed the threshold. But I'd guess that by the time you're noticing it, there's already some compression been applied. The strength of the signal hitting the comp has a big effect, so adjusting the guitar volume is a good way to finesse the comp's response. For comps with a fixed threshold, using a boost in front of the comp can give you more options, if you're going for an exaggerated bloom effect for instance.
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  • thegummythegummy Frets: 961
    Appreciate the reply - interesting that you found the metering useful even though you started off without it; makes me think it's not just that I'm used to it, it's actually a very useful feature.

    I've heard the Keeley mentioned before countless times as being great and I've seen the Empress before and it looks really good - sadly both are way over my budget for a compressor pedal.

    The MXR M87 is the one I had my eye on, though it's still not cheap by any means.

    At the moment I'm using the one built in to the Atomic Amplifire and it's a very good digital compressor, I've got no issues with the sound quality what so ever, it's purely the lack of metering that makes me even consider a pedal.
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  • It’s a digital comp but the the Boss CP1X is worth a look, its hard to get a bad sound from it really. 
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  • thegummythegummy Frets: 961
    It’s a digital comp but the the Boss CP1X is worth a look, its hard to get a bad sound from it really. 
    Nice one cheers, that's getting more into my price range now
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  • thegummy said:
    It’s a digital comp but the the Boss CP1X is worth a look, its hard to get a bad sound from it really. 
    Nice one cheers, that's getting more into my price range now
    It really is great! can do subtle, doesn’t do the ultimate squash, does a great clean boost too. I’m well impressed with mine, kind of does the hard work for you if that makes sense? I leave everything at noon, I use mine with overdrives and distortions and use it for slide.
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  • mburekengemburekenge Frets: 597
    I like big metres on my comps!
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  • Winny_PoohWinny_Pooh Frets: 3015
    mburekenge said: I like big metres on my comps!
    I think you'll find that gain reduction is usually measured in DB rather than metres. 
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  • mburekengemburekenge Frets: 597
    mburekenge said: I like big metres on my comps!
    I think you'll find that gain reduction is usually measured in DB rather than metres. 
    Lol very good!
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