The Compressor MKII or Bass Compressor? Which One is Right For You?
October 30 2020
First I'll say that if you're struggling to decide which compressor is right for you, don’t agonize too much about it. Both compressors will work great on either bass or guitar! Our original compressor was very popular among bass guitarists and the MKII will still cover your bass needs but adds extra features that a guitar player may find more useful. The same is true of the bass compressor, it will still be great for guitar but the new features are more useful on bass.
In my opinion if you are primarily a guitar player that occasionally switches to bass I would pick the MKII. If you are a bass player who wants to plug in the occasional guitar then go with the bass compressor.
Don't worry we didn't forget synth players! So what if you play synths? I think it depends on which features you prefer and how the pedal fits in your setup. I like to use the MKII when compressing a pad that is sidechained to my kick drum. I also find the tilt eq on the MKII useful for reducing muddiness on synth pads. Speaking of sidechaining... one fun trick I like to do is send a trigger from a sequencer into the sidechain input and let the attack and release settings control the duration of the compression. We can talk more of sidechaining later.
If I’m using the compressor on a synth with a lot of low end information I want to have the tone + color switch engaged on the bass compressor. The improved low end frequency response makes a difference here too. Either one will get the job done so let's take a look at what makes them different!
The Key Differences Between the Compressors
- The MKII compressor has a new tone knob. The tone knob is a tilt EQ centered at 500Hz which boosts the highs and cuts the lows when turned above noon and boosts lows and cuts highs when turned down from noon. The bass compressor has a "Tone + Colour" switch instead of the tone knob in the MKII. It has two preset eq curves that were crafted with bass in mind. One is a mid scoop centered around 300Hz and slight low frequency boost, the other is a mid boost centered at 2kHz.
According to Cody, the head designer behind the compressor redesign...“the boost helps bring out string and pick attack and sounds nice and aggressive, and the scoop clears up mud and has a bit of a rounder, warmer tone and just makes everything sound better! The tone knob on the MKII compressor is a tilt eq which is great for guitar but doesn't really work well for bass because turning it up removes your low end, and turning it down makes a bass sound really muffled”.
The Colour circuit is engaged when you put one of the eq curves on. It's a very mild clipping circuit that just adds in a bit of harmonic distortion. It's heavily filtered to sound good with bass. It does add a bit of volume boost when it's engaged, so we gave the option to turn the colour circuit off on either or both of the eq shapes with an internal switch in case you still want to use the EQ shapes but want the sound to stay super clean.
- The Bass Compressor has a fully adjustable side chain high pass filter on a pot. It filters from 20Hz to 400Hz. The Compressor MKII has two preset high pass filter frequencies. Cody explains, “the sidechain high pass filter is super useful for instruments that have a lot of low frequency information, such as a bass, to be able to level out high notes that pop out but at the same time not completely squash all your low end. Making it fully adjustable lets you dial it in more precisely. I'd say the high pass filter is much less crucial on guitar.”
- The Bass compressor has a slightly extended low frequency response, most noticeable with low compression(input knob set low) settings. So no matter how it's set, it extends all the way down to 20Hz. You wouldn’t notice this extended range on a guitar.
I hope this info makes it easier on if either of these compressors is right for you! Stay tuned for more compressor related updates, we have a lot more to share about the compressors in the future.