Today I’m reviewing the 10 best bass compressor pedals available. Whether your playing live on a stage or recording your next EP in a studio, a bass compressor will help your sound cut through the mix like no other pedal in your arsenal.
Even if compression is one of the most essential tools in audio recording, bass compressors are often overlooked by many bass players. Once you’ve figured them out it will be hard to ignore all the benefits and control they bring to the table.
If you want to learn more about bass compressors, check out our buying guide at the bottom of this page. Let’s start with the reviews!
At a Glance: Our Pick of the Best Bass Compressor Pedals
- Best Overall: Dunlop M87 MXR Bass Compressor
- Best Budget: BOSS CS-3 Bass Compressor
- Best Premium: Darkglass Hyper Luminal Bass Compressor
- Best for Advanced Software: TC Electronics SpectraComp
- Best for Low-Noise: EBS Sweden AB Bass Compression Pedal
- Best for Value: Keeley Bassist Bass Compressor Comp Pedal
- Best for Analog Sound: Electro-Harmonix Bass Preacher
- Best for Versatility: BOSS Bass Compressor Guitar Pedal (BC-1X)
- Best for Vintage Compression: Electro-Harmonix XO White Finger
- Best for Blend Controll: Seymour Duncan Studio Compressor
Dunlop M87 MXR Bass Compressor – Best Overall
The best bass compressor pedal is the Dunlop M87 MXR Bass Compressor. This product has impressive features such as true bypass and CHT technology. CHT (Constant Headroom Technology) enables clean and precise performance, creating lots of headroom.
The Dunlop M87 Bass Compressor is entirely transparent. This means that you can get a complete dynamic range that continues until the signal gets to the compression threshold. The ten gain-reduction status LEDs illustrate this, all of which are visible.
Dunlop MXR M87 is ideal for both studio and stage use. It has a complete set of controls, including five knobs contained in a pedal. It’s perfect for creating precision with your sound.
- Easy to use
- Great features for the price
- Excellent sound and performance
- Quality brand and service
- Performance reduces over time
- The pedal can be noisy
BOSS CS-3 Bass Compressor – Best Budget
If you’re looking for an excellent bass compressor pedal on a budget, BOSS CS-3 Bass Compressor is our recommendation. It has a complete knob set, including ways to adjust tone, level, sustain, and attack. This pedal is versatile and has surprisingly quiet operation.
The compressor pedal has a sturdy steel body and a non-slip base, so don’t worry about it sliding around. BOSS CS-3 Bass Compressor smooths out your sound and includes a passive electronic bypass system, ensuring sound clarity. This affordable pedal will resolve any weaker sounds and is a popular choice for learner musicians and amateurs.
- Adjustable for various sounds
- Well-built for the price
- Can add too much low sound
Darkglass Hyper Luminal Bass Compressor – Best Premium
Darkglass Hyper Luminal Bass Compressor is a premium bass compressor that is perfect for professional musicians. It boasts an all-analog signal path and includes a hybrid design within a compressor pedal. It advertises the ability to re-create some of the most memorable compression tones ever created.
The Darkglass Suite Software allows for advanced fine-tuning and comes with a free compressor. A digital side-chain controls an analog VCA. This combination means you can have a completely analog signal path while having access to a wider variety of tones.
- Includes a variety of features and sensors for maximum adjustability
- Easy to use
- High-quality sound definition
TC Electronics SpectraComp Bass Compressor – Best for Advanced Software
If you’re looking for a bass compressor with innovative software, TC Electronics SpectraComp Bass Compressor may be for you. This compact multiband compressor is ideal for bass, producing studio-quality sound.
TC Electronic SpectraComp Bass Compressor is TonePrint enabled. This feature means you can create an enormous array of customizable and signature effects. This compressor has true bypass technology and is incredibly user-friendly.
This bass compressor has multiband technology. This is studio quality and features an exclusive MD3 dynamic engine, the same used in System 6000.
- Very compact
- Multiple compression settings on the app
- Easy to use
- Not a traditional compressor
- Only one sound can be used at a time
EBS Sweden AB Bass Compression Effect Pedal – Best for Low-Noise Analog
This true bypass model compressor provides excellent analog sound with the depth and warmth you’re used to, but none of the extra noise. The Swedish design preserves your low range and delivers excellent sound.
This compressor can be used for both guitar and bass and has achieved “Hall of Fame” status in many online markets. It’s also very easy to use if you’re using a compressor for the first time. The compact model has a knob for Comp/Limit and another for Gain and three compressor settings. Each is easy to set up and test.
The latest model improves on the headroom and sensitivity. They also designed the latest model to achieve higher dynamics and lower noise. Overall, it’s a fairly flawless compressor for amateurs and professionals alike.
- High dynamics with low noise
- Easy to use
- Excellent sound control
- Highly compact
- Customer service can be slow
Keeley Bassist Bass Compressor Comp Pedal – Best for Value
Which bass compressor is the best value for the money? Hands-down it’s the Keeley Bassist Limiting Compression Pedal. This bass compressor provides a new type of compression with a focus on quality and transparency.
While Robert Keeley made well-known two-knob and four-knob compressors to create a specific effect, this compressor is meant as a limiting amplifier. Its purpose is to refine the original signal while lending precision and control.
Keeley Bassist Limiting Compression provides professional-quality compression in a compact format. This compression pedal can process surprisingly large signals resulting from the larger bandwidth, which exceeds 20 kHz. It keeps all the details of your sound, giving you a remarkable degree of control while containing just three knobs: the threshold, compression, and output knobs.
- Low noise
- Excellent sound precision and accuracy
- Fewer features than some compressors
Electro-Harmonix Bass Preacher – Best for Analog Sound
If you want a bass compressor that will give you an analog quality sound, try out the Electro-Harmonix Bass Preacher. This compact compressor has a user-friendly interface, warm tones, and completely adjustable controls.
Electro-Harmonix’s Bass Preacher has input sensitivity with a range that means it’s ideal for a variety of bass outputs, as well as both active and passive basses. You can use the toggle switch to change when compression begins. It includes fast, medium, and slow settings.
This Electro-Harmonix compressor has true bypass technology to ensure the best signal path integrity when you put the device in bypass mode.
- Fully adjustable controls
- Easy to use
- Good analog sound
- Sound can distort easily
BOSS Bass Compressor Guitar Pedal (BC-1X) – Best for Versatility
BOSS Bass Compressor Guitar Pedal (BC-1X) is a unique compressor that boasts natural sound compression. The pedal’s specialized advanced technology is what makes this possible. No matter which settings you choose, your instrument will always sound accurate and clear.
This compressor is prized for its versatility and has Intelligent multi-band compression. If you’re a professional musician, the BOSS Bass Compressor Guitar Pedal (BC-1X) is perfect. It has intelligent circuitry and a user-friendly interface. This beautifully integrated system allows you to adjust just one knob while simultaneously adjusting several parameters.
You can see how much compression you are using every moment by the 12-segment gain reduction indicator. This is an unusual feature in a stompbox compressor, traditionally only found in higher-end studio equipment.
- Allows for versatile settings
- Ample headroom
- Digital circuitry reduces noise
- Sound isn’t quite as warm as an analog
Electro-Harmonix XO Analog Optical Compressor (White Finger) – Best for Vintage Compression
Electro-Harmonix XO Analog Optical Compressor (White Finger) or its cousin Black Finger is the best choice if you want vintage compression. It features FET compression and creates a vintage feeling to your sound.
When you use this compressor, you get color and the right kind of distortion. Electro-Harmonix offers innovative technologies that improve attack times. If you thought this compressor is just for guitar players because of its marketing, you’re wrong. It is just as effective with bass as it is with guitar.
- Great control and versatility
- Vintage analog sound
- Good tone
- Fairly noisy
- Not as compact as others
Seymour Duncan Studio Compressor – Best for Blend Controller Option
Seymour Duncan Studio Compressor is our pick if you want all the features of the Keeley compressor we mentioned earlier, plus an adjustable blend controller with a frequency toggle. The blender option allows you to adjust the compression on low, mid, or high.
This studio-grade bass compressor features VCA noiseless internal features, as well as a user-friendly interface. The four knobs on this compressor control blend, attack, level, and compression.
- Great sound versatility
- User guide included
- Subtle but noticeable sound improvement
- The pedal is made of cheaper plastic
Choosing the best bass compressor pedal
Benefits of using a bass compressor
Bass compressors are used to reduce the “Dynamic Range” – the difference between the loudest and lowest parts of the bass sound. In other terms, lowering the loudest parts of the signal it is processing and boosting the softest. The results? A fuller, smoother, and more professional bass sound. Knowing how to use a bass compressor will make your bass sound more professional.
On the other hand, using a bass compressor the wrong way will over-compress the sound and squeeze the life out of it.
Adding a bass compressor to your toolbox of effect pedals is beneficial in multiple ways:
- Playing live: When you are out gigging and doing live performances it’s more likely that you’ll encounter poor in-house equipment. Using a bass compressor helps you control your sound peaks and prevent audio clipping and unwanted distortion.
- Smoother sound: It really goes without saying but you don’t want your volume all over the place. A bass compressor pedal will give you a more professional bass sound that is consistent but still cut through the mix. This will be beneficial for both live shows and recording sessions in the studio.
- Balance out slap bass style playing: There is a huge difference between normal finger-style playing and slap-style playing. A bass compressor will balance the dynamic range and keep the volume in line.
Where in the signal chain should you put a compression pedal?
Some bass players put their compression pedal first while others have it as the last step in their signal chain. I usually put the bass compressor pedal at the beginning of my signal chain. Doing so sets up a more consistent signal for the rest of my pedals. Like every other device in your signal chain, bass compressor pedals raises the noise floor. If you put the bass compressor at the end, it could amplify the unwanted noise.
You could argue that putting it at the end of the signal chain will add some smooth compression to your other effects as well. The key is to try any combination you can think of and use it where it sounds the best for the kind of music you play. What other pedals you have in your chain also plays an important role.
What to look for in a bass compressor pedal
There are many great compressors available. However, the best bass compressor pedal will give you a fuller and smoother sound without amplifying the noise floor. Cheaper pedals will have fewer parameters, which means limited options. The most important parameters that influence the way a compressor operates are:
The threshold is the level that the signal needs to rise above for the compressor to kick in. When your bass signal is louder than the threshold, the sound will be compressed. If you set a higher threshold, only the loudest notes will be compressed. If the threshold is low, more compression will be applied to the signal.
The ratio determines how much compression will be applied when the signal is louder than the threshold. Most bass players choose a ratio ranging from 2:1 to 4:1, meaning that the signal will be attenuated by 2dB to 4dB every 1dB above the set threshold. This is a great start since you benefit from some peak reduction while still maintaining the dynamic range.
The attack setting is essentially the reaction time of the compressor – determining how quickly the compression will kick in when the signal reached the set threshold. This will give you a more punchy bass sound. Dialing in a slow attack will allow the transients to pass without being affected by the compressor. Fast attacks will immediately compress the signal above the threshold. This can be used to tighten up performances or give you a more processed sound.
The release setting controls how long time it takes for the sound to go from the compressed state back to the original non-compressed state. Release time is usually much longer than attack time and can range from 60 ms to 2-5 seconds. Fast release (50-100 ms) is great for increasing the perceived loudness of the track while slow release is beneficial for smoothing out dynamic performances. The key is to experiment with the release setting. If it’s too slow, the compressor will make the sound dull and flat. A fast release can cause unwanted pumping sound, also known as the “breathing” effect.
Output level/make-up gain
Whenever you compress a sound, it lowers the output and you end up with a quieter signal than the original. This is where “output gain” or “make-up gain” comes into play. The make-up gain doesn’t affect the sound more than increasing the output. Adjust the make-up gain so you makeup for the amount of level that you have lost during compression.
Setting up your bass compressor
Dialing in the perfect setting on your bass compressor pedal can be tricky and sometimes it can be hard to hear the effect it has on your sound. The more you experiment and try different things, the better the result. These settings should only act as a starting point:
- Set your ratio to somewhere between 2:1 and 4:1
- Set your attack to somewhere between 75ms-150ms
- Set the release to 25ms-50ms
- While playing, turn up the threshold slowly until you hear a slight decrease in volume
- Start decreasing the attack time until the bass sounds less aggressive
- Tweak your output level until there is no difference in volume between the compressor being on and off
These steps will only set you on the right path. Use your ears – if it sounds good, it is good!
Dunlop M87 MXR is the best bass compressor available. It offers a great studio-quality sound and all the control options you will ever need. Many other compressors add a lot of hiss to your sound but the M87 is almost silent. With the 20:1 ratio setting, the M87 can also be used as a limiter, enabling you to soft limit your output volume.
It’s worth mentioning that every bass compressor pedal featured in this list will be a great addition to your existing setup.