Extensive compressor reviews and FAQ

Presonus Bluemax: This is a half-rack-width stereo unit that's packed with a lot of features for the small size. It has a full set of controls -attack, ratio, release, etc.- plus a bank of presets for bass, keys, vocals and other specific purposes. These presets are actually quite usable for general purposes. Many people will be content to just use the bass preset with no adjustments. There are also two "effects" presets for extreme compression, and they are both very cool sounding and unusual.
 
With the non-extreme presets the tone is not especially colored, and the action has a very wide range of qualities depending on the settings. The lows are actually quite full and strong, but unfortunately the highs have a bad rolloff. Also, the noise level is a bit higher than I'd like. The Bluemax is designed to run at line level (from -10 to +4 dBu), but you may be able to plug directly into it if you play an active instrument with strong output levels.
 
If you mostly play a deep rootsy style like blues or reggae, this is a super versatile comp with a really big sound, and will serve you well. But if you like a bright tone or upper end clarity, you will want a different unit. The bypass is OK but not great.
 
Price in USD: used $30 to $60, no longer available new.
 

 

 
 
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