Price paid: $ 240
Purchased from: The Mad APe
Ease of Use: This is the chain I used to work with the Demeter Compulator: ESP LTD F-205 bass into a Demeter COMP-1 Compulator into a Markbass CMD 102P. This is a passive pickup bass with an active 15+/- decibel three band EQ going into the Compulator then into a clean Markbass 2x10 combo.
If you want the bottom line up front, the Demeter COMP-1 Compulator compression function is bad. The definition I use for bad is, "not good in any manner or degree". In addition, since the only function of the COMP-1 is compression, this is not a good tool.
To start, the box is built well. It's a solid metal, probably some sort of low-grade steel; which is all you need for a stomp box. The on/off Switch is sturdy and gives a satisfying click when the pedal is turned on or off. The Compress and Volume knobs are a little chincy, but the pots they are sitting on are good and sturdy. The blue LED is great for telling if the effect is engaged or not, it's like a little blue sun. // 4
Sound: The box is easy to open if you use a battery to power the pedal. There are four short screws used to deep the top and bottom halves of the box together. If you don't want to use a 9v battery to power the pedal you are going to need a 1/8th power chord that fits into the COMP-1. The COMP-1 doesn't use the more common plug like a Boss or Electro-Harmonix pedal does, the plug looks like a headphone jack. This isn't very common, so you'll probably not have one just laying around and will need to go out and get one.
It's also good that the box is easy to open because whatever idiot engineer decided to hide the volume trim pot inside the box made it a real pain to deal with. You can technically reach it from the outside with a super tiny screwdriver, but that's more of a pain than just opening the pedal up and using a flat toothpick to adjust the trim.
Moreover, as far as that trim pot is concerned, it's a piece of crap. I had to turn it all the way down to limit distortion. Anything more than all the way down and the COMP-1 sounds like a really bad fuzz box. Actually, with this all the way up it would be a pretty good fuzz box if it didn't kill the lows that it's distorting.
Now let's move on to the Volume knob. This isn't bad, simple cut or boost. I image if the Compress did anything useful then the Volume knob would be more than efficient at making up gain. With the Compress turned all the way down simply using the Volume knob would be an easy way to pay $200+ for a minimalist volume cut/boost pedal. // 1
Reliability & Durability: Now for the reason we all look to the Demeter COMP-1 Compulator, the Compress function. It's a piece of junk. Starting with the knob turned all the way to the left and until it is at about 12 o'clock, the Compress does nothing. No cut, no peak softening, no blast curling, no sound roundingnothing. It is useless. Somewhere between the 11:30 and 12:00 positions is when the pedal starts distorting low notes on the E string and just about everything on the B string. Still no compression, the output is at the same level; now there is just a horrible distortion coming from the pedal while it eats away the low frequencies. Anything past the 12:00 position destroys the low notes. You know the big thick low notes that fill the room and shake your skeleton, well the Compress function here eliminates that without softening loud peaks. The sound is just thinned out so much that you will avoid playing those notes.
The Compress now continues to be useless until about the 3:00 position. At this point, the Compress function finally kicks in and starts to round off loud peaks on the higher notes. Imagine you are playing some low-end lick on the E string and then you crank out a fill on the D and G-strings. The COMP-1 will keep those sharp D and G string peaks from breaking your inner ear bones; however, the entire time you are playing your low end parts, it sounds like you have a broken speaker and a bad guitar amp pushing for your bass. The more to the right you turn the Compress knob the more compressed the D and G-strings become, but the worse and worse your lower strings sound. As you bring the Compress knob all the way to the right your high notes are choked out like a sputtering lawnmower and your lower notes are bludgeoned to the point of sounding like farts through a drive-through intercom. // 6
Overall Impression: Before I bought the COMP-1 I read everything on the internet that I could find about compressors for bass guitar. I scoured message boards, read manufacturers claims, and store sales pitches and I came to find that the COMP-1 is the best thing out there; if this is the best that there is for bass compression, then people just need to stop making bass compression. I've been working with this pedal for over 2 months now and am very displeased with its performance. The Demeter COMP-1 Compulator is an expensive and ineffective tool for bass compression.
Here is a note on Demeter Customer service. I called many times and sent over a dozen emails to Demeter and have never heard back, not even once. As far as I can tell they got their $250 and I can go get bent. // 1