[1029] Empress Compressor

Date: September 14th, 2011 | Comments : none | Categories: DIY.

I have had the opportunity to play the Empress Compressor for a couple of weeks and would like to share some of my findings. The image above shows the Empress Compressor on the left and Dunlop compressor on the right that I used for my initial comparisons. Both are true bypass.

The Empress Compressor is for the player who likes to tweak knobs, as opposed to the set-and-forget two knob MXR/Ross style comps, such as the Dunlop. In fact, there may be too many options, but that should not be a big problem. It features controls for Input level, Attack, Release, Mix and Output level.

The Mix knob blends some of the input signal in with the compressed signal and allows a wide range of compression, even though you are limited to 3 ratios (2:1, 4:1 and 10:1) selected by one of the two toggle switches. The other toggle is used to select the response of the 10-LED meter that runs along the top of the pedal.

The Input level acts like a threshold setting and the careful use of this control will determine how much of the signal is subjected to the selected compression ratio. This is the main control that you should be tweaking at first. I suggest that you set Mix control all the way clockwise, and the meter switch to the “GR” setting and watch how much gain reduction you are getting at normal playing volume. I usually go for 6db or less of signal reduction. Once this is done you can adjust the Mix control to taste.

The Empress is clean and low noise. It is very transparent, which is just about its biggest fault. It is almost too transparent for my taste. Even with the Mix at 100% compressed signal, the Empress was much less obvious as compared to the other compressor, which most of the time is more of a peak limiter.

The Sidechain jack allows for some advanced compression techniques but it won’t find much use with most guitarists, and is more of a studio compression tool.

I initially missed being able to dial in the compression ratio but once I worked with the Input level and the Mix knob, it became less important. The Empress works well with bass guitar and it is a very tweakable, low noise addition for any home studio or pedalboard.

Empress Effects Compressor


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