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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.



First Take

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.



In Play

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

beautiful way.



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.”)



The Verdict

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.

Highly recommended.



Buy if...
you want more of what you love in your tone.
Skip if...
tightening up your dynamic range isn’t compelling.
Rating...


Street $309 - Demeter Amplification - demeteramps.com