Are compressors generally noisy?

Discussion in 'Effects, Pedals, Strings & Things' started by galliant, Jul 31, 2008.

  1. galliant

    galliant Member

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    In my battle to fight the noise coming from my rig, 1 of the main culprits I've pinpointed is my compressor from Keeley. For the record, i think its the best compressor (that I can afford that is). I still keep it in my rig regardless of the noise.

    I even bought the voodoolab pp2+ hoping to solve some noise issues (blame my p90s as well).

    So are compressors generally noisy? I like to keep the Sustain knob above 9o'clock and work my way around the noise problem.
     
  2. lifeinsong

    lifeinsong Member

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    Compressors definitely add some noise to your signal, and the P90's add even more. For what it's worth, I've used all kinds of comp pedals and the Keeley just has something special that the other's don't, regardless of price.
     
  3. Fireball XL5

    Fireball XL5 Supporting Member

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    A compressor is basically an amplifier that raises the level of quieter parts to equal louder parts, so it's not that the compressor is adding additional noise of it's own, but rather the compressor is simply raising the noise level that is already present in your rig.

    Likewise, a compressor will raise the noise level of any effect placed before it - so if your goal is to minimize noise be sure to run your compressor at the beginning of your signal chain (directly after your guitar) and before any effects pedals.
     
  4. Hugo Da Rosa

    Hugo Da Rosa Silver Supporting Member

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    In my experience with compressors, the noise generally doesn't become annoyingly apparent until you kick in a high gain overdrive on. I run my amps pretty clean so I do hear a little bit of white noise in the background but it's not enough to bug me. (Also because I run a noise gate at the end of my chain and since it's technically "white" noise, it's not something annoying like hum.)

    The PP2+ does help a little in reducing noise but with a pedal like a compressor, you are still going to hear a little bit of that white noise floating in the back. I would say invest in a noise gate...maybe the Rocktron Hush. They really do help reduce the noise level.
     
  5. frizbplaya

    frizbplaya Member

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    +1 for fireball's explanation. It's not the compressor it's self but the nature of what it's doing.
     
  6. dividedsky

    dividedsky Member

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    I think it depends how you run it. In my experience, not at all but I have my amp set loud and keep most of my pedal volumes actually very low.
     
  7. gitpicker

    gitpicker Silver Supporting Member

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    +1 on this! Not only compressors can add noise, in fact, pretty much all pedals will add at least a little extra unwanted noise. In addition, your rig will sound more "amp-like"....

    Also, running comps after OD's will amplify any noise present in the OD pedal (and let's admit it, they add at least a little noise and hiss).
     
  8. jstone

    jstone Member

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    Many guitar compressors (Analogman, Keeley, MXR etc) are rather Limiters. And that is why the above explanation is correct. While a compressor can be set to not do anything before a peak over a certain level a limiter amplifies everything.

    The only effect I have in front of my compressor is a Wha wha. I like to use the compressor to even out the level changes the wah wha creates.
     
  9. galliant

    galliant Member

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    Thanks for the lowdown! Well in my rig chain, my comp is right after my strobo tuner. Do tuners have any adverse effect?
     
  10. galliant

    galliant Member

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    Yeah I was thinking of getting a noise gate but I hear it really robs and sucks the life out of your tone. Is this true? Do i have to compensate by getting a buffer (axess buffer) for example?
     
  11. amz-fx

    amz-fx Supporting Member

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    Compressors are inherently more noisy than other pedals... with no input signal, the compressor circuit goes to max gain which amplifies any noise present in your signal right at the time when all is quiet... you may hear it as a slight hiss (white noise).

    This is a good reason to put it at he front of the signal chain before noise has been added by other pedals.

    regards, Jack
     
  12. hurleysurf

    hurleysurf Member

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    I've never played a quieter compressor than the BJF PGC. I have the comp level set at about 2 o'clock and can't even tell its on until I start playing. Had a Keeley before that was decent, but the PGC continues to impress me. It's a keeper.
     
  13. earthtonesaudio

    earthtonesaudio Member

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    If you have a gate that has a side-chain or effects loop, then you can do a little trick to improve the noise level. Plug into the gate, then run the compressor in the loop. The gate's threshold is controlled by the dry guitar signal, but the gating action happens on the output of the compressor. Best of both worlds.

    ...I've only seen stuff like this in studio gear though, so I don't know if there's a gate pedal that has this capability.
     
  14. semi-hollowbody

    semi-hollowbody Member

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    Ive found the further you move it away from the beginning...especially if its after some od or distortion pedals, the noisier it gets
     
  15. Shiny McShine

    Shiny McShine Member

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    Well, I used to run a DBX 165 in a rack with a Demeter Bass preamp into a Mesa Stereo 400. Of course that compressor is a top shelf piece of recording gear. It was dead quiet. The compression was not perceptible except in a felt sense. I could only tell it was on when I would turn it off and the whole sensation of the bass would change. It was great for pop and slap because it took the edge off but didn't add anything or take away any tone. It's what I mean when I say that something is transparent. I wish I'd never sold that gear. That was my greatest bass rig that I ever had. The SVT was the other but in a different sense.

    So the answer is yes, a compressor can work without adding noise or coloring the sound. It's just that they cost at that level.
     

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