Demeter Amplification Compro-1 Compulator Pro Pedal Review
Demeter''s Compulator is a useful compressor that gives you more of what you love
|Download Example 1|
Max compression and volume for sustain, Epiphone Sheraton
|Download Example 2|
JCM 800-style distortion with extra compression for leveling, Epiphone Sheraton
|Download Example 3|
Direct clean sound with added delay, Strat
|All clips recorded with the guitar into the Compulator straight into Axe FX Ultra|
At one point or another, most guitarists have
used a compressor to level out dynamics or
produce singing sustain. Country guitarists
love compression for clean chicken pickin’,
and funk guitarists live and die by the spank
that comes from a highly squeezed signal.
If you’ve never played with a compressor
before, you owe it to yourself to plug in and
discover how it can draw out more tone from
both your guitar and amp.
With the Compulator Pro, James Demeter has
brought sophisticated studio compression to
stompbox users. Whereas many stomp compressors
keep it simple, offering only compression
and volume knobs, Demeter has squeezed
controls from high-end rack compressors into a
package guitarists can use in front of their amp.
Housed in a yellow metal case, the Compulator
Pro looks sharp and feels solid. The pedal sports
four knobs: Attack, Release, Compress, and
Volume. Below the controls are a true-bypass
footswitch and a bright blue LED that tells you
when the compressor is active. The unit runs on
a 9-volt battery or an optional power supply.
In addition to standard 1/4" input and output
jacks, the Compulator Pro has a High/Low
Gain switch, which is connected to a recessed
trimpot that lets you dial in a preset amount
of boost. The trimpot is accessible with a small
screwdriver along the unit’s left-hand side, and
it’s set to 20 dB of boost at the factory.
The pedal’s compression circuit is based on
a photocell, a design borrowed from vintage
studio compressors. Because of its big, natural
sound, optical compression has been a favorite
of studio engineers for decades—but it isn’t
often found in stompboxes. Attack and Release
controls let you adjust how fast the compressor
turns on and off. The unit also includes a
Volume control for making up the gain you may
have lost after compressing your signal.
The Compulator Pro gives you a lot of flexibility
to sculpt sound, but such flexibility often makes
a device more challenging to operate. To learn
how easy or hard it would be to dial in great
tone, I ran the pedal through a variety of tests.
To begin with, I plugged a Les Paul with
Sheptone AB Specials into the Compulator Pro
and then directly into a Creation Audio Labs
MW1 Studio Tool. The MW1 is a Swiss Army
knife for D.I. signals and reamping, and it offers
the cleanest way I know of to get a guitar signal
into Pro Tools without coloring the sound.
After setting the Compulator’s controls to
noon and engaging the footswitch, I realized
those settings are quite extreme and significantly
lowered my overall volume. Playing an
open-E chord and letting it ring, I could hear
the sound trigger the compressor, get pulled
down in volume, and then slowly ramp up as
the Compulator pushed the gain higher in
response to the fading notes. As I listened, I
was impressed that the Compulator Pro added
no extra noise—its circuit is dead quiet.
Wanting a less obvious compression effect, I
pulled Attack and Release down to 9 o’clock
and repeated the drill with the E chord. At
these settings, the sound was much smoother.
Though I knew the compressor was operating,
it was virtually undetectable. The attack and
the release were so smooth I couldn’t hear the
make-up gain coming into play.
With that in mind, I fully cranked the Compress
knob and experienced nearly infinite sustain.
Remember, this is with a completely clean
signal. This setting reduced the overall level,
but a quick twist of the Volume control easily
remedied that. However, I should note that at
extreme compression settings, you may not get
back all your volume (that is, the volume you’d
have if the effect were bypassed)—even if the
Volume control is maxed.
Next, I plugged the Compulator Pro into a
65Amps Tupelo combo. With the pedal off, I
adjusted the Tupelo for a fat, clean sound and
then stomped on the Compulator. With its
previous settings, the pedal instantly made my
sound thicker and larger. The tonality didn’t
change—the Compulator simply delivered
a better version of the same sound. Again,
I found the pedal to be quite transparent at
these settings, and I heard all the nuances of
my playing being amplified and controlled in a
Switching to a Fender American Standard
Strat, I was able to dial in some serious
quack. Because the Strat’s single-coils have
less output than the Les Paul’s humbuckers,
I flipped the Gain switch to High and got all
the signal I needed. I had the sense that playing
my guitar was easier with the pedal than
without it. Leveling out the dynamics made
me feel like I was on steroids—everything
was powerful and smooth.
To test out the Compulator Pro’s singing
qualities, I kicked up the volume and
gain on the Tupelo and let it rip. With the
Compression backed down to about 3
o’clock, the pedal set to a fast attack and
slow release, the sound turned into a wild
sustain fest! Notes spilled effortlessly from my
Strat and transitioned into blooming and very
musical feedback. Switching back to the Les
Paul was like letting the bull loose. I still had
effortless sustain, but it was coupled with a
thicker, more distorted tone. By backing off
the Attack knob, I discovered I could create a
reverse-guitar effect and a sucking sound that
reminded me of a tape flipped backward.
This pedal offers a lot of sonic variety.
I continued experimenting with various settings
and different guitars. Ultimately, I found
that while the Compulator Pro has more knobs
than most stompbox compressors, it was hard
to dial in a bad sound. Demeter has somehow
found a way to give you options without making
it difficult to get a great sound, and that’s
quite a feat. My only niggle was that I found
it possible to distort the pedal with high-gain
active pickups. But this only happened on the
first note—before the compressor had a chance
to clamp down on the signal. And, again, it
didn’t happen with passive pickups. (James
Demeter says users who experience distortion
because of high-gain pickups can safely operate
the unit at 12 volts for more headroom, or
they can send the unit in to be modified for less
overall gain at no charge other than shipping
fees. “As with all things,” he says “there was a
compromise. The stock unit was designed for
99 percent of the guitars out there.”)
I won’t lie—I’m not usually a fan of compressors
in my guitar signal chain. Most compressors
tend to squash the signal in a way that sounds
too obvious to my ears and diminishes my
tone. The Compulator Pro is really the polar
opposite of that. This pedal makes everything
feel better, and what comes out of it is simply
a bigger, badder version of what went into it.
Armed with the Compulator Pro, you’ll never
get washed out in the band. Just twist a few
knobs, and you’ll sound loud and proud, with
soaring lead lines and bristling harmonics.
you want more of what you love in your tone.
tightening up your dynamic range isn’t compelling.
Street $309 - Demeter Amplification - demeteramps.com