This no-frills, simple-to-use bass compressor makes it a breeze to incorporate the effect most low-enders really shouldn't be without.
Clip 1 - ’68 Fender Tele bass: Threshold dimed, ratio at noon, and attack off.
Clip 2 - Dingwall NG2: Threshold at 1 o’clock, ratio at noon, attack at 10 o’clock.
Clip 3 - Music Man StingRay: Threshold at noon, ratio dimed, attack at 10 o’clock.
Compression is such a delicate subject among bassists. Some don’t know much about it. Some swear by it. Some swear while using it. Some feel their pedal is the best and turn up a nose to anything not labeled (insert brand here). The truth is that compression is a very basic and musical front-end effect that has a place on every stage, regardless of style or approach. It can sweeten and level out your tone—perfect for heavier-hitting players and those with a penchant to slap—and for years has been the secret sauce engineers use for a great mix.
Now, take that very basic primer and combine it with a bass builder who has been making pro-level instruments for discerning players for decades. Hiro Miura, founder of Xotic Guitars, moved on from Xotic to start Miura Guitars in 2014. The M2 compressor/limiter is Miura’s first pedal offering, and knowing his work with Xotic’s basses, I was excited to hear the M2 for myself.
Out of the box, the pedal is unassuming with its straightforward and simple design: four knobs and the truth. Heck, there’s not even any paint. The controls (from left to right) include threshold for controlling the level of compression that’s applied, ratio for telling the compressor how much to apply past the threshold, and then attack, which tells the compressor when to kick in. The fourth control is a level dial, which allows you to match your level in case you turn the pedal on and off. Voilà!
I used a few instruments to test the M2 with the intention of capturing a wide range of potential situations. They included a passive ’68 Fender Tele bass, a new Yamaha BB (in passive mode), an active Dingwall NG2, and an active Music Man StingRay. Don’t worry: I won’t bore you to tears with every single knob turn, but will instead hit you with the highlights from each bass.
The “factory recommended” basic setting is where I started with the M2. (Useful tip: If there are recommended settings in a user manual, start there. More often than not, our impatience can rule and subsequently ruin the day by not knowing where to begin.) Because the M2’s layout lends itself to a straightforward approach, this pedal is as easy as pie—even for those who have been daunted by compression in the past. The first bass up was the Yamaha BB.
The suggested starting point was with the threshold at 9 o’clock, ratio at noon (about a 5:1), and the attack all the way on the counter-clockwise side. The blue indicator light on the right showed that the pedal was kicking in the more I dug in, and the tone that greeted me was, well, sweet nectar. The bass’ sound seemed to leap out and shimmer as I noodled up and down the neck. This initial setting didn’t destroy my tone or even squash the bass much at all. It’s simply a very natural-sounding compression with the release and attack just right—easing the lows when I hit harder and keeping the upper-register runs sweet and even.
To push it to a different level, I plugged in my ’68 Fender Tele bass, which is a little subdued and thuddy sounding. It’s strung with flats, and I’m a fan of finding new ways to get expression from such an “ordinary” instrument. I dialed the threshold all the way up, the ratio about halfway, and kept the attack off. My sound was brighter and livelier, with the upper registers being squashed to the point of stopping. I loved this tone, especially when paired with a light OD to give it a modern, slick feel while maintaining low-end integrity.
I then plugged in the Dingwall NG2, which is about as modern a bass as one can find, and the M2 did an outstanding job handling the more pointed attack and smoothing out the overall tone and level. While slapping or using a pick, the tone seemed to shimmer and jump out a little when engaging the M2. I felt the best pedal settings for this bass had the threshold at 11 o’clock, ratio at straight-up noon, and the attack at around 10 o’clock. The level matched perfectly when set at 11 o’clock. My 5th string sounded tight and controlled, and the pedal took on the entire 5-string bass with ease.
Next up was the vintage Music Man, a beast of a bass that I’ve used for just about every genre. It’s one of my most fun basses to play. And when it gets fun, I tend to play harder, which is where the M2 comes in. I dialed the threshold to noon, dimed the ratio, set the attack at 10 o’clock, and adjusted the level accordingly. And the squashed tones took the bass to another wonderful, very funky place. Of course, when pulling the ratio back, the sweet MM tones rang more true—albeit still with a great continuity—and, dare I say, made me sound more consistent.
Compressors are often overlooked in our bass culture. But do yourself (and your tone) a favor by checking out the M2 from Miura. The pedal does exactly what we—as humans—need: a more consistent, level approach. I know a (very) few bassists who can maintain the same level and intensity without a compressor. The rest of us need a little help. The simple and informal-in-a-good-way approach of the M2 makes for a stress-free dive into the compressor pool, with great-sounding results in a few minutes. Unless I needed a super-tight extreme tone or a different feel during a set, I’d likely set the M2 on the front end of my signal chain and leave it on all night.
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