A deep dive into pedal compression possibilities.
Rich, authentic, and plentiful sounds on tap. Easy to use basic functions. Deep, flexible programmability.
Getting the most from the Atlas likely requires more work than some analog purists or traditional-pedal seekers might want to put in.
Source Audio Atlas
The divide between pedal compressors and professional studio stuff has always been pretty wide. More recently, though, crafty digital builders have wrangled sound closer to studio-grade in stompboxes—Origin Effects’ Cali76 line or Strymon’s Compadre, for instance. The new Atlas Compressor from Source Audio takes that effort to new heights. It’s a simple 4-knob comp when you want it to be, or an almost limitlessly adjustable compression utility tool when you need more control. And, as we’ve experienced in many clever Source Audio releases, there’s lots more lurking behind the streamlined face of the pedal.
It’s helpful to think of the Atlas as an amalgam of guitar pedal, studio compressor, and software plug-in. And the fact that it moves between the three worlds is cool, because while you don’t have to obsessively pore over every feature and possibility to make great sounds, you can take a very deep dive into its impressive under-the-hood capabilities. Those capabilities are too extensive to cover completely here. But the ability to move between simplicity and complexity is a big part of what makes the Atlas so fun and capable.
The Atlas comes with six basic compressor modes, which you access via the 3-way toggle. Studio 76 (an 1176-style comp), optical rack (an LA-2A), and dual band are available in standard mode. Studio snap (an aggressive VCA comp emulation), cubic zirconia (a more textured LED optical compression), and dual jangle are accessed via the “alt” button. Those six modes alone provide a wealth of tone massaging options, but additional programmability extends the possibilities of those modes significantly.
The ability to move between simplicity and complexity is a big part of what makes the Atlas so fun and capable.
The Atlas comes in Source Audio’s more compact One Series enclosure, an extruded-aluminum box that measures 4.5" x 2.75" x 2"—knobs and all. The four knobs control threshold, ratio, blend, and output, but also function as gain, tone, attack, and release when you press the alt button. The same button enables the 1/8" TRS control input, which can be connected to a dual expression pedal (not included) and other features. Additionally, the footswitch can be configured for analog-buffered output or relay-based true bypass.
Inputs 1 and 2 and outputs 1 and 2 mean the Atlas can be used in true stereo with the dual comp engine set appropriately. There’s also a USB port for MIDI functionality and connection to Android and iOS devices or Source Audio’s powerful Neuro Editor, which is where the lion’s share of the pedal’s extended capabilities lie. Neuro enables detailed and comprehensive preset editing and facilitates loading sounds into the pedal itself. And the potential for control via mobile devices makes live access and on-the-fly changes possible at a gig. Have I mentioned the bass optimization mode, 128 user presets, Neuro preset sharing, and look-ahead mode? Again, there’s little room to cover those in detail here, but Atlas is rich with sounds that you’ll miss if you just plug in and play.
I tested the Atlas with a tweed Fender and Marshall-style amps as well as a Les Paul and Rickenbacker 365, and these very simple rigs yielded a dizzying number of possibilities. Fundamentally, the Atlas sounds good—as in really good. If you’ve done the rounds with all the great compressor pedals currently available and never found the example that nails the sound you’re looking for, the Atlas’ expansive, minutiae-level controllability could make it the one that does the trick. I turned most often to variations of the optical mode—perhaps because it offered a compressor template most familiar to my ears. But within just that one style of comp, the Atlas offered what felt like near-infinite adjustability—everything from singing, sustaining, squash-and-swell sounds to detailed, harmonic-rich, and muscular jangle.
Digital compression is not easy to execute at this level of detail. So, the quality and number of sounds here is genuinely impressive. The core sounds would probably fool a lot of analog studio hounds. It’s impressively quiet, too. And while the Atlas’s basic sounds are compelling, its editability and preset capabilities can lead to unexpected discoveries and cool performance possibilities. You’ll need to spend some time with the manual, but the Atlas pays major dividends to those willing to study up
Source Audio Atlas Compressor Demo | First Look
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Kick off the holiday season by shopping for the guitar player in your life at Guitar Center! Now through December 24th 2022, save on exclusive instruments, accessories, apparel, and more with hundreds of items at their lowest prices of the year.
We’ve compiled this year’s best deals in the 2022 Holiday Gift Guide presented by Guitar Center.
DiMarzio, Inc. announces the Relentless P (DP299), the Relentless J Bridge (DP301), Relentless J Neck (DP300), and the Relentless J Pair (DP302) for 4 string basses.
DiMarzio, Inc. announces the release of the Relentless P (DP299), the Relentless J Bridge (DP301), Relentless J Neck (DP300), and the Relentless J Pair (DP302) for 4 string basses. The new Relentless P and Relentless J series pickups feature the Relentless cover designed in collaboration with Billy Sheehan.
As with the Relentless pickups, we removed all the hard edges from the standard P Bass and standard J Basspickups, and added an arch to the top of the pickups to bring the sensing coils and pole pieces closer to the strings. These improvements increase the dynamic range and make active circuitry unnecessary.
The Relentless P and Relentless J pickups incorporate Neodymium magnets and produce 70 percent more output than traditional passive pickups, and they’re dead quiet due to the incorporation of metal covers and foil-shielded cables. To dial in (or fine-tune) the individual string output, the Relentless P and Relentless J include eight adjustable pole pieces. These pickups also have a broad magnetic field so you can even bend notes without volume dropout.
DiMarzio’s extra shielding makes the Relentless P and Relentless J better for both recording and stage performances. We’ve mounted them onto robust .09375” thick circuit board base plates to eliminate the annoying protruding mounting screws — ultimately creating a more comfortable and consistent foundation to rest your fingers on.
The new Relentless P steps beyond the traditional P-Bass sound and can only be described as massive. It has more of everything: more volume, beefier lows, a growling midrange, and crispy highs with better individual string definition.
The Relentless J incorporates a new invention, (patent pending) parallelogram-shaped coils, offering an expanded mid-range punch, snappy highs, precise lows, and a new dimension to the sound of the Relentless series pickups.
Relentless P and Relentless J pickups will breathe new life into any bass, increase playability, and work well for any style of music from Motown to metal.
DiMarzio’s Relentless P, Relentless J Bridge, Relentless J Neck, and Relentless J pair are made in the U.S.A. and may now be ordered for immediate delivery.
Suggested List Price for the Relentless P is $169.00 (MAP $119.99).
Suggested List Price for the Relentless J Bridge and Relentless J neck is $155.00 (MAP $109.99).
Suggested List Price for the Relentless J Pair is $296.00 (MAP 209.99).
For more information, please visit our website at dimarzio.com.
Mystery Stocking is coming soon! Sign up for PG Perks below so you don't miss it.
Sign up for PG Perks on the form below to make sure you don't miss the launch announcement!
About Mystery Stocking
Each year, Premier Guitar likes to put out these mystery boxes as a part of bringing some fun to the holiday season. Remember, this is supposed to be a fun holiday treat! If the contents of this box will ruin your holiday, deplete the last of your bank account, or end your ability to see the good in humanity, it may not be for you.
- This year's Mystery Stocking will cost $44.95. ($39.95 + $5 Flat shipping)
- Each box will be guaranteed to contain $40 or more in value.
- US only. (Sorry World.)
- Make sure your shipping address is correct.
- Have your credit card ready to go before you refresh the page. Paypal is not available. Autofill may not fill in your information.
- There will be NO REFUNDS given.
- There has been a huge demand for these in the past. We really did sell out in less than 4 minutes last year. When they are gone, they are gone.
- One per household, one per person.
Q: What's in the Mystery Stocking?
A: It wouldn't be much of a surprise if we told you, now would it?
Q: Will I definitely get my money worth?
Q: Can I return it if I don't like it?
A: Nope. All sales final.
Q: What if I live outside the US?
A: Sorry, US only.
Q. How much is it?
A. $39.95 Plus $5 shipping
Q. When will it ship?
A. On or before December 10, 2022.
Q. What form of payment do you accept?
A. Credit cards only. Sorry, no Paypal for this.
Q. Can I ship to a different location than my billing address?
Q. I tried last year and didn't get one. Will I get one this year?
A. There is an overwhelming demand for Mystery Stocking. Be sure you have a fast internet connection and be ready when they go on sale. Last year we sold out in 3 min 33 seconds.
Q. I want to buy 5. How can I buy 5?
A. You can't. This year, we're limiting to one per household, so more people can get in on the fun!
For part two of our crash course in harmony for bassists, we’re talkin’ triads.
As bass players, our job is often to indicate and support what is happening rhythmically and harmonically in the music we’re playing. And to do that, it’s important for us to understand the basics of tonality and how it works. In fact, every bass player must have a strong knowledge of harmony to do their job correctly. This month, we’ll continue last month’s harmony crash course with some more ways to brush up on your ear skills, in italics below, so you can do your low-end job effectively.
The basic building block of harmony is the dyad, which gives us our basic intervals. But the basic building block of tonality is the triad, a grouping of three or more tones (root, 3rd, and 5th) that give us the four chord qualities—major, minor, diminished, and augmented—which you’re probably already familiar with.
Just as with intervals, we should train our ears to recognize chord qualities instantly. Start with two qualities (major and minor). Once you can identify those two correctly about 95 percent of the time, add another. Keep going until you can identify all four qualities consistently.
Another great exercise is to take a melody (either major or minor) and convert it to the opposite quality. Start out with something you know well, like “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.” This may take a while at first, but the goal is to keep on doing these until you can convert most stuff on the fly instantly.
“This feeling of resolution, in some ways, is the whole point.”
Each chord quality has its own distinct sound, but major and minor are related, and both feel very grounded. Because of the 5th in each, our ears can easily hear which note in the chord is strongest (the root), which gives major and minor a sense of gravity. This feeling persists even if we change the order of the notes (invert the chord).
Have a friend or an app play inversions of major or minor triads. Find the root of each chord by singing it. Work towards being able to identify these triads in root position (root in the bass), first inversion (3rd in the bass), or second inversion (5th in the bass).
Pay attention to bass lines that land on a root, 3rd, or 5th on the first beat of the bar and then practice coming up with your own examples.
Diminished and augmented triads are much more ambiguous. Without a perfect fifth (diminished has a b5 and augmented has a #5), no tone in particular sounds strongest. Thus, both chords lack gravity. In fact, to most of us, every tone sounds equal, like being lost in the woods where every direction appears the same. Both seem to want to move towards something else more stable. When this occurs, it gives a sense of release, or resolution. This feeling of resolution, in some ways, is the whole point.
The top part of a dominant seventh or V7 chord is a diminished triad. For example, a C7 consists of the notes C–E–G–Bb. If you remove the C, we’re left with an E diminished triad. This is where the moving sound, or the desire to resolve, comes from. The important takeaway is that we’re making something very stable—a major chord—and making it less stable when we add the b7, because of the diminished sound, which in turn sets up the need to resolve.
Listening for V–I: On a guitar or keyboard play any major chord, then add a b7 (transforming I to V7) and try to hear where the progression “wants” to go next. Move to the new key (a fifth down) and repeat. After twelve V–I progressions you’ll arrive back at the original key.
The Dominant Gateway: On bass, try playing a walking bass pattern over the cycle of fifths, strategically using a b7 to move to the next key. This foreshadowing is a great voice-leading skill.
That's all for our crash course in harmony. If you take your time with these exercises, you should notice not only your ears improving, but your bass playing too!