Polyphonic Compression pedal?

Discussion in 'Gear & Equipment' started by JediMasterThrash, Jun 19, 2018.

  1. JediMasterThrash

    JediMasterThrash SS.org Regular

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    Is there such a thing as a polyphonic compression pedal?

    The idea is that it doesn't just compress the overall input signal to the output signal level, it also independantly gain/suppresses separate notes within said signal.

    My particular scenario is as follows,

    Hit a strong open chord
    Then hit single notes on a higher string while the open chord still rings

    The standard compressor suppresses the strong open chord signal. But as a result, when the signal notes are played, they receive the same amount of total signal suppression even though they don't need it, so they sound very faint in the mix.

    If there was such a thing as a polyphonic compressor, it could gain up one note while suppressing another.

    If no compressor is used, you just get the opposite effect, the open chord is too loud relative to the rest of the playing, the compressor is desired/needed to limit the volume spikes fronm hard hit notes.

    Also, since i play a lot of palm-mute metal, the compression is necessary in order for palm mute notes to get gained up before entering the pre-amp, otherwise they are weak and flubby.

    So 95% of the time I need a compressor and it does what I want. But 5% of the time I wish there was some way for secondary notes to push through some sustained notes/chords.
     
  2. Shask

    Shask SS.org Regular

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    Sounds like you mean a Multi-Band Compressor.....
     
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  3. bhakan

    bhakan SS.org Regular

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    What you're describing as a "polyphonic" compressor is essentially how a compressor should work. Set properly, a compressor should compress (reduce the volume) of loud notes like chords, while letting quiet notes like single notes through unaffected. What you're describing sounds like the threshold is too low resulting in it compressing everything.
     
  4. Bearitone

    Bearitone SS.org Regular

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    Honestly i feel like you would achieve this by turning your compressor off and turning down the gain to improve dynamics. Strum the chord a little lighter than you normally would then really pick those single notes deliberately
     
  5. JediMasterThrash

    JediMasterThrash SS.org Regular

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  6. ElRay

    ElRay Mostly Harmless

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    To do what you want, you’d need polyphonic output (e.g. Cycfi Nu Capsule), or some kind of ultra fast frequency-domain-based (think FFT) digital filter.
     
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  7. Alex79

    Alex79 SS.org Regular

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    EBS Multicomp sounds great on CLEAN detuned guitars and has a multiband setting. I don't know what the band frequencies are though, I think it has trim pots inside, but I always used the tube sim mode. Unfortunately, at some point our bass player wanted his pedal back, so I don't have it anymore!

    However, IMO you really shouldn't use compressors with gain to start with.
     
  8. Lindmann

    Lindmann SS.org Rectangular

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    Sorry but I don't see this pedal or any other multiband compressor helping you with your problem.
    Cutting into a specific fequeuency is not the same as surpressing specific notes, as the frequency responses of the different notes overlap for the most part.

    It will definately alter the note balance though, but not in the way you want it to.
    (Multiband) compressors react to dynamics. When applied on undynamic signals (e.g. high gain guitars) a multiband compressor acts almost exactly like a regular equalizer.

    I would also advice to dial back the gain a little and use the obtained dynamic range to strum the cords lightly and to pick the single notes hard.
     
  9. prlgmnr

    prlgmnr ...that kind of idea

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    I'm trying not to be a prick, but I still feel like I'm reading "I want something that makes it so that when I hit some notes really loud, and some notes really quiet, the loud notes are quiet and the quiet notes are loud".

    Just.... just play the ones you want to be quiet, quietly, and the ones you want to be loud, loudly.

    What you also can do is check your pickup height and polepieces so your strings are evenly balanced volume-wise.
     
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  10. JediMasterThrash

    JediMasterThrash SS.org Regular

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    Pitch shifters and harmonizers always use the term "polyphonic" to refer to being able to shift multiple notes/chords correctly in key. Hence why I thought the same term would apply to a compressor that could pull out separate notes.

    I adjust the pickup height separately on the low and high string side to balance the signal level. I've never really messed with pole pieces though.
     
  11. JohnIce

    JohnIce Singlecoil Enthusiast

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    Palm mutes being weak and flubby =100% a playing technique issue. Polyphonic compressors don't exist as far as I know, meaning literally every guitar player you've ever looked up to got by without one.

    If your scenario of a ringing open chord + single notes don't cut through the mix, you need to write the part differently. Learning to arrange music is a skill in and of itself, a compressor isn't gonna fix a poorly arranged guitar part.

    I'm not trying to be a dick but the answer is literally just practice more.
     
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  12. JediMasterThrash

    JediMasterThrash SS.org Regular

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    What I mean by weak and flubby is just gain. If you have your input gain level on your distortion preamp set to get nice distortion on a strong open chord, then if you play a palm mute note, the input volume just dropped and it doesn't go into full sustained distortion like a higher input signal open chord. So by weak and flubby I Just mean it's lacking gain into the distortion. It sounds the same as if you just rolled back the volume knob on the guitar and played the louder open chord into the same gain-level distortion. It "cleans up" nice, but if you're going for a crushing fully rectified metallica thrash palm mute sound, you need those palm mute notes entering into the preamp at the same gain level.

    An open chord rings out longer naturally so it stays in sustained distortion. But a palm mute, even if you stike it very hard, will only have a split second initial high gain distortion and then loses volume quickly, and that quick loss of volume causes the signal to lose distortion fast and become "flubby" and weak, like you're trying to play thrash through the clean channel.

    As for writing the parts differently, this type of playing is usually because I'm trying to play two guitar parts simultaneously, for instance on metallica covers, where one guitarrist was playing stronger powerchords and the second guitarrist was playing mid-string riffs (or 3rd and 4th guitarrists in the case of recorded music, or iron maiden).
     
  13. Veldar

    Veldar Is Post-Thrash?

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    FEA dual band comp pedal
     
  14. prlgmnr

    prlgmnr ...that kind of idea

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    Are you sure about all this? What are you playing into?
     
  15. JediMasterThrash

    JediMasterThrash SS.org Regular

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    It's the same on any of the pre-amp (tube and modelling) equipment I've had, engl e530, peavey studio pro, fender mustang II, gnx4, and an RP7. Without a compressor, palm muted notes don't drive enough volume to hit the same sustained distortion as an open chord.

    Even if a guitarrist playing this style doesn't have a dedicated compressor, they usually still have compression on the input path. Either something like a Mesa preamp with heavy compression, or they're using active EMG pickups which is really just a compressor built into a pickup, or they're using some type of boost/OD/Tube-Screamer before the preamp which also introduces compression.
     
  16. GunpointMetal

    GunpointMetal SS.org Regular

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    Damn, my palm mutes are usually LOUDER than my open chords.
     
  17. JohnIce

    JohnIce Singlecoil Enthusiast

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    I think you're over thinking it. None of that refutes what I said, you need more practice. You're writing up this explanation of how input gain differs between palm mutes and open chords and the physics of sustain and preamps, seemingly without realizing that this is only describing YOU. I promise you that your technique is creating this problem and better technique would solve it, none of what you said is a universal truth about guitars or guitarists, you've simply identified a technique issue you have that you need to work on. I mean by all means keep doing research and posting on forums about it but I sincerely think that time would be better spent playing your guitar more. I've never in the last 15 years at least plugged into any amp and thought I needed any kind of comp/boost/TS or EQ to make up for uneven volumes in my playing.

    As for your second part, there you go... you're trying to play parts written for two guitar players. It does sound muddy, that's why it was written for two guitar players instead of one. It's a shame but sooner or later you have to realize there are quite a few things you CAN play on a guitar that just won't sound that great, especially not with distortion.
     
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  18. Beheroth

    Beheroth SS.org Regular

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  19. prlgmnr

    prlgmnr ...that kind of idea

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    Just a little bit of editing there, you see what you're saying right?
     
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  20. JediMasterThrash

    JediMasterThrash SS.org Regular

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    No, i meant what I said. A palm mute is not an instantaneous mute, it just quickens the dB/ms drop in signal strength. But it's also not constant across the frequency spectrum, higher frequencies tend to get muted quicker than lower frequencies. So a palm mute loses brightness quickly and loses signal strength fast. But it's not instantaneous.

    For a few 100ms after striking the strings, the signal is still there, it's just quickly losing amplitude. So by using a compressor, you bring that amplitude back up, and thus "sustain" the sound of the palm mute. Without the compressor, maybe only 50ms of signal had enough strength to generate strong distortion, but after compression maybe 200ms of signal have enough strength to generate strong distortion. And after the 50ms of distortion, the high frequencies have rolled off, and the lower frequencies are losing amplitude so they don't distort as much, so you end up with a flub sound, lower frequencies not strong enough to fully distort.

    Of course too much compression goes the opposite direction. As mentioned before, the lower frequencies live longer than the higher ones, so you end up sustaining a low-end hum for too long with too much compression and it makes a very mushy sound, you lose the staccato. So there's a fine optimum between enough compression to keep a palm muted note in distortion for just the right duration.

    I'm fully aware of playing dynamics. I know how to move my palm down the strings for more muting or percussive sound, and how to move my palm onto the bridge for less muting and more sustain. I also know how to dig deep into the strings for louder input or to hit gently. I always appreciate constructive feedback, though I find comments like "git gud" somewhat insulting, as well as assumptions that i just don't know how to hit the strings harder.

    The end result is still that open chords sound better when you hit them strong (but not so strong to fret-buzz out). And a crushing palm mute requires a bit of the high-frequency muting and low end which gets the best sound from having your palm off the bridge a bit, in which case you're not getting as much volume and sustain. And you can whack your strings with a hammer as hard as you want, it's still not going to be as loud for as long with a palm suppressing them. Though the frequency spectrum is also at play. Way back in the day when I used to play with bass cranked to 11 and cut all the mids, my palm mutes often would seem louder than chords just because the low frequencies would resonate out my cabinet. I play with a tighter sound with more mids now.

    Besides bringing up the low sounds, compression also squashes the loud spikes. Dynamics are good which is why I usually use around a 2.5x to 5x ratio, to compress some but still retain dynamics. But the fact is that anatural harmonics on the upper frets tend to resonate and produce very loud audio spikes. The audience isn't going to like high frequency sound squeals in a performance. Also i'm not perfect enough to avoid an accidental left-hand finger catch on a string or something else that generates some loud transient sound.

    I also find specifically with clean-tone playing that the upper frets are always about twice as loud as lower frets. With the volume at a good level to play clean chords, playing a clean riff above the 15th fret just sounds like I'm plucking the strings with a screwdriver. I'm fully capable of just picking them weaker to even out the volume with playing technique, but weak picking just doesn't generate as good sounding of a note.

    I'm also fully capable and well practiced in banging out the single notes to get them "haired" over sustained chords. But that doesn't mean it wouldn't be nice to have a polyphonic compressor to make the job easier. And I tend to play with relatively low action for fast picking, and if you hit strings too hard you just fret-buzz them out. So there's always a balance I already go through to make sure I can hit strings hard without buzzing out, but at the same time not raise the action too much.
     

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