Darkglass Electronics Super Symmetry on Guitar

Glitch Magnet

Member
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2,013
I'd like to hear from anyone who's tried the Darkglass Electronics Super Symmetry bass compressor on electric guitar or compared it to the Empress.

I've been through a variety of comps, and am mostly in love with the Empress. I've determined a blend/mix knob is essential to me, so much that I've gone as far as trying other comps, like the Keeley GC-2, through a One Control Mosquite Blender to add blend control. I've also decided a fast or adjustable Release time is essential as well. In the end, the Empress gives me exactly the dynamic control I desire without squash. Somehow, it makes every note heard in a natural way that maintains openness and liveliness.

My quibble with the Empress is that it puts out a high-pitched hiss that's audible with my AC15HW1X (Vox AC15 w/Blue). It's not terrible. There are noisier compressors for sure, and I can live with it in the Empress, but I'm always looking out for something even better/quieter.

So, I'm interested if anyone's tried the Darkglass Super Symmetry on guitar or compared it to the Empress. Specifically, how does it compare in terms of compression behavior and noise?
 

RubenRoeh

Member
Messages
18
I'll let you know. Just got a SS in to shoot a guitar-specific demo for it. I'll check it out tonight and the demo will be up by the end of next week.
 

splatt

david torn / splattercell
Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
25,381
I'd like to hear from anyone who's tried the Darkglass Electronics Super Symmetry bass compressor on electric guitar or compared it to the Empress.

I've been through a variety of comps, and am mostly in love with the Empress. I've determined a blend/mix knob is essential to me, so much that I've gone as far as trying other comps, like the Keeley GC-2, through a One Control Mosquite Blender to add blend control. I've also decided a fast or adjustable Release time is essential as well. In the end, the Empress gives me exactly the dynamic control I desire without squash. Somehow, it makes every note heard in a natural way that maintains openness and liveliness.

My quibble with the Empress is that it puts out a high-pitched hiss that's audible with my AC15HW1X (Vox AC15 w/Blue). It's not terrible. There are noisier compressors for sure, and I can live with it in the Empress, but I'm always looking out for something even better/quieter.

So, I'm interested if anyone's tried the Darkglass Super Symmetry on guitar or compared it to the Empress. Specifically, how does it compare in terms of compression behavior and noise?
interesting.
can we talk about that hiss for a minute?
i dont seem to have that problem, and mine's been in play for a couple of years, now.
i'm currently in the mid-HV, fwiw.

are you using a dedicated isolated power supply for the empress, or something like a cioks/voodoo/etc?
what are your typical guitar settings, and what is the order of your typical effects chain (if there is a chain)?
typical amp settings?
 

Glitch Magnet

Member
Messages
2,013
So did not get it done by "the end of next week", but here it is - albeit a bit tardy...
Very nice! Thanks for this. I think you're new favorite reviewer. I never got board, impatient, or annoyed, and I usually do.

This sounds as nice as I anticipated. I would like to have heard it into an amp that's breaking up a bit to see if there's any undue coloration or noise. I play a Vox AC15HW1X, which is quite bright and seems to amplify any extra hiss in the signal.

It sounds like this would go head-to-head with the Empress, with the Empress being a bit more neutral. I'm not necessarily looking to add any girth or warmth to my tone, so maybe this isn't for me. Unless it's dead silent, then maybe.
 

Glitch Magnet

Member
Messages
2,013
interesting.
can we talk about that hiss for a minute?
i dont seem to have that problem, and mine's been in play for a couple of years, now.
i'm currently in the mid-HV, fwiw.

are you using a dedicated isolated power supply for the empress, or something like a cioks/voodoo/etc?
what are your typical guitar settings, and what is the order of your typical effects chain (if there is a chain)?
typical amp settings?
I'm somewhat hesitant to get into this. It's a long story, and I've discussed it in detail in other threads. A majority of people think I'm daft, but there are others who've shared my experience with the Empress Compressor.

I've got a solid background in sound system design, installation, live sound, and recording. I know all about setting gain structure, using compression, and tracing noise problems. I've compared the Empress to a half dozen other comps. Most have about the same amount of noise or more, but a couple were virtually silent by comparison (Maxon CP101 and RAF Mirage). I've done the comparison side by side, just guitar > comp > amp. No other pedals inline. I've used both the PP2+ and Cioks Ciokolate. This is not a power thing, bad cables, or improper setup. It MAY be an amp thing. All comparisons were done into my Vox AC15HW1X, which is a bright tube amp. The noise I'm concerned with would not be so apparent into a dark amp.

Bottom line, most comps put out some hiss noise, including the Empress. It's fairly high in pitch. It doesn't matter how much compression is being used. It doesn't even matter if the guitar is turned up or disconnected. There's simply noise at the output of the pedal, even at unity gain with very low compression. It's NOT severe, at all, but it's there. I sent the pedal to Empress, and they found no problem. They sent me a replacement which exhibited exactly the same behavior.

That's the story. No big deal. But if I could have all the wonderfulness of the Empress with zero noise, I'd take it.
 

splatt

david torn / splattercell
Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
25,381
I'm somewhat hesitant to get into this. It's a long story, and I've discussed it in detail in other threads. A majority of people think I'm daft, but there are others who've shared my experience with the Empress Compressor.

I've got a solid background in sound system design, installation, live sound, and recording. I know all about setting gain structure, using compression, and tracing noise problems. I've compared the Empress to a half dozen other comps. Most have about the same amount of noise or more, but a couple were virtually silent by comparison (Maxon CP101 and RAF Mirage). I've done the comparison side by side, just guitar > comp > amp. No other pedals inline. I've used both the PP2+ and Cioks Ciokolate. This is not a power thing, bad cables, or improper setup. It MAY be an amp thing. All comparisons were done into my Vox AC15HW1X, which is a bright tube amp. The noise I'm concerned with would not be so apparent into a dark amp.

Bottom line, most comps put out some hiss noise, including the Empress. It's fairly high in pitch. It doesn't matter how much compression is being used. It doesn't even matter if the guitar is turned up or disconnected. There's simply noise at the output of the pedal, even at unity gain with very low compression. It's NOT severe, at all, but it's there. I sent the pedal to Empress, and they found no problem. They sent me a replacement which exhibited exactly the same behavior.

That's the story. No big deal. But if I could have all the wonderfulness of the Empress with zero noise, I'd take it.

not questioning your sonic sanity, and don't assume that you're nuts; just wanted to try to offer assistance.

just wondering if:
a) you've tried another unit?
b) you've tried a separate, individual power supply?
c) you've recorded and analysed the hiss?
d) you've already spoken with the empress folk, or sent yours back to them?
e) you're using high-input, high ratio, slow release, all-comp mix, output more than a couple of dB past functional unity?

in a pinch, you could compare yours to mine.
 

Glitch Magnet

Member
Messages
2,013
not questioning your sonic sanity, and don't assume that you're nuts; just wanted to try to offer assistance.

just wondering if:
a) you've tried another unit?
b) you've tried a separate, individual power supply?
c) you've recorded and analysed the hiss?
d) you've already spoken with the empress folk, or sent yours back to them?
e) you're using high-input, high ratio, slow release, all-comp mix, output more than a couple of dB past functional unity?

in a pinch, you could compare yours to mine.
Thanks David. I appreciate it. That's why I love this forum.

I think I already answered most of your questions. To elucidate:
a) Yes. As mentioned, I sent my first unit to Empress, which they confirmed was working to spec. They sent me a different unit, which I found to behave exactly the same as the first unit.

Incidentally, they told me they verify their noise level using a software program, the name of which I forget. Their published spec just says "Noise: -101 dB" which is essentially meaningless. I suspect that's at 1 kHz, and probably in reference to 0 dBu, which would suggest an actual signal to noise ratio of around -81 dBu relative to guitar level. Still not bad, but the noise I'm hearing is well above 1 kHz, like above 3 or 4 kHz.

b) Yes, as mentioned, I've tried two different PP2+ and a Ciokolate. This is not a power problem.

c) I actually did record it alongside several other comps. At comparable, moderate settings, my CP101 and Mirage were essentially silent while the Empress made noise. Since then, I've compared the Empress to a Keeley GC-2, MXR M87, and Suhr Koji, all of which produced about the same amount of noise as the Empress. So that tells me the CP101 and Mirage are exceptionally quiet while the Empress is merely typical.

d) Yes, as previously mentioned.

e) My typical settings are all controls straight up EXCEPT for the output set for unity (~9:30-10:00), Ratio at 4:1. The noise is tolerable to me at these settings. If I turn the Mix fully clockwise, it's noisier than I can stand, though probably no noisier than a Dynacomp or Ross.

I should also stress that this isn't even compression gain noise I'm hearing. People love to say "any compressor will amplify noise" BUT THAT IS NOT WHAT'S HAPPENING HERE. The hiss does not duck when I exceed the threshold. I know the difference between input noise and self noise. None of the controls has any effect except the Mix and Output controls. The hiss remains constant even with the input turned off. This noise is clearly produced somewhere after the compression stage and right before the Mix control.

My guitars all have relatively high output buckers, so it's not a weak signal. On my AC15, I use either the Top Boost input or Normal Input with Bright Switch on, and the speaker is a Celestion Blue, so the amp is bright and vulnerable to this kind of noise. Certainly I have dirt pedals that are noisier than the Empress, although my Durham Sex Drive set for lots of boost with the Tone control up is still quieter than the Empress.

I'm not knocking Empress. I LOVE this compressor, other than the hiss noise, which not everyone hears, but I'm not alone either. I do have one other issue with this pedal though. The pedal case is not grounded. At least mine wasn't. It would hum when I'd touch the controls. I had to open it up and run a ground wire from the PCB to the case, which required chipping off some paint and wedging the wire between the case and bottom cover. That fixed the buzz.
 
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Glitch Magnet

Member
Messages
2,013
I'm revisiting this thread because I've purchased the Darkglass Super Symmetry and compared it to the Empress. Sorry, no audio demo, but here's my experience FWIW.

My favored setting on the Empress is Ratio @ 4:1; Input, Attack, and Release @ 12:00, Mix @ ~1:00; Output @ 10:00 (unity).

After considerable tweaking, I was able to get the Super Symmetry (SS) to sound almost identical to the Empress. Both are great at evening out individual note levels without sounding compressed. The amount of hiss noise was about the same from both, although the SS's hiss was more in the midrange while the Empress is higher up. So, no big advantage to one over the other noise-wise.

The deal breaker for me is the SS just sounds darker. There's a definite loss of highs, though slight, when you kick on the SS. The Empress is very good at retaining highs. In fact, the Empress seems to add a touch of sheen, though not excessive. In the end, I clearly prefer the Empress for electric guitar.

The SS is no slouch though. I quite like it, and will surely use it on bass and possibly electrified acoustic.
 

Sparadrap

Member
Messages
661
I have been trying this pedal on guitar too.
Like for all pedals with many controls, it requires some time to assess its (potential) qualities.
First I would say that compressor is not for "squash'n pop" tones, rather for tone enhancement.
Will give it a further spin. Probably I can come up with something nice, cranking threshold and lowering ratio.
 
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