Author Topic: looking for building my first compressor  (Read 3184 times)

GhostofJohnToad

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looking for building my first compressor
« on: November 03, 2012, 11:26:41 AM »
So I have never used a compressor but after hearing a few things I'm thinking I'd like to tinker with one.  I'd like to build one if possible.  there's the obvious afterlife or cupcake, but I'm not sure what would be better.  Also open to any vero builds or other pcbs.  I guess I'd like one mainly for the funky chord stuff and especially for evening out arpeggios.  Would either one be better suited to these?  I don't play in a band just mainly home recording.

jimmybjj

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Re: looking for building my first compressor
« Reply #1 on: November 03, 2012, 11:36:17 AM »
check out Jon's build report. He gives some commentary on a few compressors.

http://www.madbeanpedals.com/forum/index.php?topic=6794.0
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jkokura

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Re: looking for building my first compressor
« Reply #2 on: November 03, 2012, 11:38:03 AM »
Options include:

- Dyna/Ross comp styles using a CA3080 OTA
- Engineer's Thumb styles using a OTA of some sort as well
- Orange Squeezer styles using a Dual Op Amp
- Vactrol/LED-LDR styles often called Opto-compressors
- FET styles (Not sure where to point you...)

Basically, all of them are slightly different, and even within certain types, like Dual Op Amp comps, there can be a lot of variety.

My favourite for a long time has been the Ross type. It's not entirely transparent, but I like that it warms up and breathes life into my tone. Try the Tonepad Ross comp for one you can etch and get going easily.

However, I'm really excited about trying the Engineer's Thumb comp I've been developing a board for. It also uses an OTA, and the breadboarded version I built made me very excited. Watch for a PCB of that one if you'd like to try it.

The afterlife is not a bad way to go. It uses the LED/LDR approach for an optical compressor. Fits in a 1590A if that's your gig.

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Mike B.

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Re: looking for building my first compressor
« Reply #3 on: November 03, 2012, 12:57:14 PM »
Another option for the Ross compressor is GuitarPCB's "MoRC"

http://www.guitarpcb.com/apps/webstore/products/show/3436357

Pretty much a straight up Ross clone with some enhancements like the release mod, and much faster shipping than Tonepad in my experience.

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midwayfair

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Re: looking for building my first compressor
« Reply #5 on: November 03, 2012, 02:53:31 PM »
there's the obvious afterlife or cupcake, but I'm not sure what would be better.  I guess I'd like one mainly for the funky chord stuff and especially for evening out arpeggios. 

These two tasks are kind of polar opposites when it comes to guitar compressor tasks. Evening out arpeggios requires a pretty high ratio and long decay, while funky chords require a short decay (to maintain rhythm dynamics) and the ratio doesn't really matter. For funky chords, something that preserves or boosts the high end is necessary to maintain some amount of aggression and keep the rhythm clear. This basically means you need a compressor with an easily adjusted external compression knob.

Overall, I think your two best choices are the Engineer's Thumb with the treble mod, and the Afterlife with a sensitivity control. The drawback to either is that switching between the two compression characteristics means moving both the Ratio and Volume knobs because the ratio controls the gain.

The Engineer's Thumb with the treble mod would be able to handle the chords on lower compression settings, and the higher compression settings could handle the arpeggios very well. It's strictly better than any Ross derivative (and I will not be adding "IMHO" here, either): It will ALWAYS be quieter because the Ross circuit has unsolveable noise issues, it's easier to build, and just the 3080 chip for the Ross will cost you more than the entire Thumb circuit. Otherwise, it has nearly identical compression characteristics at the top end and can also do less compression at minimum.

The Afterlife is a better choice if you want a warmer sound with a slightly sluggish attack. (It takes the vactrol a little more time to kick in than an OTA chip.) If you add a sensitivity control to the Afterlife, you can set the comp pretty high and change the sensitivity and it'll keep you from having to change both the volume and compression between songs.

The Orange Squeezer circuit is my personal favorite overall for chord work and peak limiting, but it won't do super smooth arpeggios without multiple mods. (Basically, increase C7, R11, and add the gain mod.)
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GhostofJohnToad

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Re: looking for building my first compressor
« Reply #6 on: November 03, 2012, 08:50:44 PM »
Ok i think I might be down to the Engineer's Thumb and the Keeley.  Based on what your saying midwayfair, it looks like the ET may be in the lead, but the videos for the Keeley sound pretty good too.  Ah, hell maybe I'll build both.

jubal81

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Re: looking for building my first compressor
« Reply #7 on: November 03, 2012, 09:24:47 PM »
I'm another compressor-oholic and I have to also recommend the Engineer's Thumb for a great all-around design.

My No. 1 is still a DOD 280 (optical) and I dig the OS almost as much. However, the ET is as close as I've found to getting characteristics of Ross-style with noise almost as low as an optical.

For the ET I used Ivlark's vero layout at Tagboardeffects.com.
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Mike B.

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Re: looking for building my first compressor
« Reply #8 on: November 04, 2012, 01:59:38 AM »
I keep hearing good things about the ET. Has anyone come up with PCB's (or PCB art) for it yet?

Haberdasher

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Re: looking for building my first compressor
« Reply #9 on: November 04, 2012, 03:07:00 AM »
I keep hearing good things about the ET. Has anyone come up with PCB's (or PCB art) for it yet?

Yes, there is the original pcb artwork from merlin.  That's what I used to build mine.  It fits in 1590b.
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jkokura

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Re: looking for building my first compressor
« Reply #10 on: November 04, 2012, 03:48:07 AM »
I keep hearing good things about the ET. Has anyone come up with PCB's (or PCB art) for it yet?

Yes, I've also been working Merlin to release a PCB as well.

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Mike B.

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Re: looking for building my first compressor
« Reply #11 on: November 04, 2012, 10:37:57 AM »
Nice, thanks guys.

Keefe - email incoming :)