Extensive compressor reviews and FAQ

DDyna Bass10: DDyna is a fairly new boutique maker, using some very interesting and novel circuit ideas. I originally bought one of his "Thinman" overdrives, because it uses a peak-limiter circuit for part of its clipping (distortion). It turns out that the limiter there is just for clipping, not for clean peak limiting, so I have not reviewed it on this site. However it's an excellent overdrive pedal, for both bass and guitar. Here I'm reviewing his new Bass10 pedal, which combines a true compressor, an overdrive, and an EQ. Note that even though it has "Bass" in the name, this pedal works great for guitar as well.
 
The compressor is designed for gentle, smooth squeezing. It has a fast compression attack, like the Demeter, which means a softer note attack. At a high ratio setting the note attack is almost violin-like (which can be a pro or a con, depending on your tastes). Although it does have a ratio control with a decently wide range, it doesn't really limit strong peaks that well, and at a very high setting it mashes your tone a bit too much. But at medium to low ratios it has nice full, rich tone, and very natural smoothing action. The "Sust" knob is a threshold control, with a decently-useful range: it will work well with medium-to-low output instruments, but it might overcompress a high-output instrument. It's great at adding a significant amount of sustain, if you want, especially when also using the OD section. At moderate compression settings the tone is fairly clear and neutral, with no loss of highs or lows, and there is not much noise.
 
The overdrive section has a smooth, warm quality and a rich texture, with no loss of low end. That's at low to medium "Drive" settings, though--at high Drive settings it turns raspy and nasal, and cuts the lows. The Drive knob controls the amount of pre-gain fed into the overdrive circuit. For bigger signal peaks it has a fixed clipping threshold with a wide touch-sensitive range (dependent on the output of your instrument, and the Drive knob setting). For signals below that threshold, there is a separate clipping circuit, with its own variable threshold control labeled "Depth". With Depth fully to the left you have the most range of touch-sensitivity, and fully to the right you get the most consistent drive across all dynamics. So just think of Depth as "dynamic range". The OD effect is somewhat dependent on your compression settings. It has its own volume knob and footswitch separate from the compressor, but the comp footswitch bypasses both of them. So the only way to use the OD by itself is to turn the comp's knobs all the way down. The OD volume control has a lot of gain on tap, and a small tweak of the knob can result in a big change in volume.
 
The EQ is a four-band set of cut-only filters. So the EQ is effectively "off" (flat) when the knobs are fully to the right. Turning each knob fully to the left will cut that band out completely. Each band has up to 18 dB of cut, so you can sculpt your signal in a wide range of voicings. Although a cut-only design lends itself to mid-scooping, you can boost the mids by turning down the high and low knobs and boosting the overall volume. The EQ affects both the comp and the OD. It's smooth and quite good-sounding, though it could be a little confusing for people used to EQ's that boost as well as cut.
 
In my initial review of this pedal I mentioned a noticeable hiss noise; however since that time Dan at DDyna has solved that problem completely. The effects are not totally noiseless, but that's to be expected with most other compressors and distortions, and the Bass10 is better than average. A new issue came up though: at heavy compression settings, there can be a little low-pitched modulation in the background, like a quiet rumble sound. It won't be noticeable in most contexts, but you may notice it when recording, during periods of silence between notes. DDyna is working to solve this problem too.
 
Since this pedal is an all-in-one tone-shaping machine, it's reasonable to wonder whether it can drive a power amp directly. The compressor side by itself does not have enough gain for that purpose, but the OD side does. So it would be very frustrating if you wanted to switch back and forth between clean and driven tones, in that context; but if you like your tone dirty all the time, then it will drive any power amp, no problem. And if you're not driving a power amp, then there is no trouble switching back and forth between clean and dirty. Some users will wish this pedal had a DI output; DDyna is aware of that wish, but there was no extra room in the pedal for a transformer, and electronic balancing at the quality he likes would have raised the price significantly. If you compare the Bass10 with other compact preamps like the Sansamp BDDI, Aguilar Tone Hammer, or Sadowsky outboard, the others may be simpler to set up, and they have DI outputs, but the Bass10 is much more versatile and flexible in terms of both tones and functions.
 
One thing that will be a problem for some people is it takes a 12 to 18V center-positive power supply (included with the pedal), and does not take batteries. So it won't be compatible with most daisy-chain power supplies. The housing is the "medium" size (like Barber, BBE, Aphex) and the construction is pretty good. The footswitch is true bypass, using a noiseless switch.
 
Price in USD: new $289, used probably $150 to $190
 
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