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What do you guys mean when you say "uncompressed"?

Discussion in 'Effects, Pedals, Strings & Things' started by stevel, Feb 14, 2009.

  1. stevel

    stevel Member

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    This OD pedal adds "compression".

    What do you mean?

    Do you mean like a studio compressor that decreases the amplitude range? Or one that lops off the peaks like a Limiter?

    I'm thinking of the George Harrison solo on Nowhere Man.

    That sounds like an amp compressing, and not a studio compressor in the signal chain.

    If you turn an amp up - like, way up, doesn't the top of the waveforms get clipped, and introduce distortion, but have the side benefit of compressing at the same time?

    Seems the point of a pedal compressor is to emulate this kind of situation with the amp not maxed out.

    And it seems to me that an overdrive/distortion pedal would be intending to do the same thing - the dirtier it gets, the more compressed it gets, because that's what would happen with an amp.

    Am I right?

    Clue me in.

    Steve
     
  2. Lolaviola

    Lolaviola Member

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    It's a feel thing...
    I'd say a Boss DS-1 is compressed--it adds sustain and crunch. It is good for legato, fusionesque or heavy playing, but I can't get much touch-response from it.
    There are certain pedals (e.g.: OCD,) that add crunch and harmonics, but still let your pick feel come thru. I can "dig in" or back off my attack, with a pedal like that, and get more tone colors. If you have your amp loud enough, then you can use feedback to get sustain and legato-tone.
    I prefer pedals like that and I would call that "uncompressed drive."
     
  3. spentron

    spentron Member

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    Exactly, the usage of the term isn't always technically accurate. I prefer the term tonally compressed or uncompressed to refer to the difference between tonal responsiveness and actual compression and added sustain.

    Anyway, the difference between compression and (normal) distortion is speed. Distortion is instantaneous and compresses individual waves. Compression has to slow down a bit and ignore individual waves, an analogy is a little monkey in there watches the signal level and adjusts a volume control to try to keep it level. Symantically, "compressor" is usually reserved for something we don't already call "distortion".
     
  4. ben_allison

    ben_allison Member

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    I think both. Essentially, a loss of dynamic detail, where the quiet sounds are closer in volume to the loud sounds (or where the loud sounds are closer in volume to the quiet sounds, depending on how you look at it).
     
  5. spentron

    spentron Member

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    Another thing, you might think a compressor is the least tonally compressed form of compression, since (ideally) it lets the original tone through. But distortion substitutes new harmonics in place of the compression of volume. This is why some people noticed a loss of dynamics back in the day when they switched from tube mixing consoles to solid-state with pads to eliminate distortion (previously unneeded). It can still sound more compressed if there is enough obliteration of the original signal or it's taken to extremes.
     

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