Before you decide on the best compressor pedal for you, you might be wondering what a compressor pedal is. To narrow it down, it’s a piece of gear that makes loud sounds (like screeching) quieter and quiet sounds (like those of an acoustic guitar strumming pattern) louder. The job of a compressor pedal is to narrow down the range of sounds so they can exist in a similar space of sound range, all the while without distorting the sound itself.
It may sound simple, but the job of the pedal is a vital one when you know how to use it.
Table of Contents
- Here is Our Review of the Top Compressor Pedals for 2023 :
- Compressor Pedal Buyers Guide
As a guitarist, you'll constantly find yourself looking for gear that could improve your sound and performance. Whether it’s new strings, a new amplifier, or new compressor pedals, you'll wonder why you didn’t get one of these helpful devices earlier.
They may look deceivingly small and unimportant, but they play a truly big role in the music world. Compressor pedals can drastically improve your play with little to no effort, thanks to the easy use and set-up of these simple objects.
Looking for something a little different? Check out our review of the top Uni-vibe pedals!
At a glance: Our top 3 picks
- comes with a power supply
- three latch settings available
- real-time sound capture
Empress Effects Compressor Analog
- comes with a power supply
- three latch settings available
- real-time sound capture
JOYO JF-10 Dynamic
- comes with a power supply
- three latch settings available
- real-time sound capture
Here is Our Review of the Top Compressor Pedals for 2023 :
The Electro-Harmonix compressor pedal is definitely a sight to behold. The above-average price means it’s not for the faint of heart. There is no doubt that you will have to pay a good sum of money to get a compressor that will visibly improve the sound of your jamming sessions. In the long run, it’s definitely worth it.
The Electro-Harmonix will capture all your high and low sounds in real-time and compress them accordingly to give you your best performance yet. Furthermore, you can control how much compression you use. If you are searching for the best guitar compressor pedal to experiment with and looking for new, unique sounds, this is definitely a choice to consider. This compressor pedal comes with three decay modes rates. You can switch between a full and rich sound to a bleak and dull alternative when needed, giving you a dynamic range.
While this is not a loop pedal and only works when you press it down, it is one of the best compressor pedals on the market. It's a great choice if you're looking to experiment and have fun with your music again or if you are getting bored of your default pedal sitting at home. There are many ways to modify this compressor pedal to suit your needs!
+ comes with a power supply
+ three latch settings available
+ real-time sound capture
Why We Liked It - This product is undoubtedly a very unique and fantastic piece of gear, making it one of the best compressor pedals. Even though it is one of the more expensive pedals on the market, it’s definitely worth the buck. This guitar pedal will give you endless hours of fun. If you're looking for something to experiment with, this is the pedal to go for!
Fitting in the mix - When playing in a band, it's too tempting to reach for effects as an easy way to cut through the mix. That doesn't always turn out well because sometimes all you need is a really clean sound that can be heard. A compressor pedal can help you to cut through a mix loud and clear without sounding too compressed or using any other effects.
2. Empress Effects Compressor Analog
This Empress Effect’s product is a bit more advanced than our previous pedal, with more tone controls. It lies more on the pricey side, but it also has more gimmicks, functions, and control knobs than a single pedal. Manipulate the pedal's output with the output control, and make use of the attack knob controls. It's a fantastic investment if you are looking for a packed bundle to enhance your guitar sounds backstage or on tour. It offers a great dynamic range of compressed sound options to play about with.
This compressor pedal lets you achieve clear and transparent sound even when modified. You can blend uncompressed signals and attack and release with control. It also has three compression ratios for maximum effect when playing in and out of your studio. The design is simple and allows for easy switching between options. It won’t cause any fussing, which is something other overcrowded advanced compressor pedals are guilty of.
With its accurate and easy controls, this little pedal can compress just about any audio signal and enhance it to take your guitar playing up a notch. When the compressor kicks in, every note you play will shine and be a clear and crisp rendition of all of your tunes. It will truly create stunning soundscapes every time you use it!
+ three compression ratios
+ clear, crisp, enhanced sound
+ single analog path
Why We Liked It - It’s needless to say that this is an easy-to-use compressor pedal with a clear set-up. Make use of each attack, input, and output knob to control your sound. This is one of the best compressor pedals around, praised by many people for the clear and crisp sounds it can make. It will open up a new world for you and your playing, and you will be glad you ended up investing some extra money into this impressive piece of gear! Get the guitar tone you've been looking for.
3. JOYO JF-10 Dynamic
Available since 2010, JOYO’s compressor pedal is a piece of gear available for tight pockets that still want to compress their tunes with quality products. Featuring a unique green color and a fantastic graphic design of a scorpion on the front face, you can be sure that this pedal will impress both with its sound and appeal whenever you pull it out of your bag!
This compact pedal will help you find your ideal tones and keep true to them in the long run. It released some low noise, which is unavoidable when compressing sounds. It’s one of the clearest guitar compressors available out there. Get a clean signal and play around with the compression settings. The easy-to-use sustain knob, attack knob, and level knob will ensure you get the perfect sound every time. This little pedal packs a punch, and when you find the sweet spot on the chain and tweak the options, you will be able to create fantastic and exclusive sounds.
With a wide and dynamic range of tones, you will be able to improve your skill level as you experiment with each compression effect. This mini pedal will enhance all the boring sounds you throw at it. It’s definitely the best compressor pedal for anyone who is looking for a good value product that will do its job well!
+ attractive design
+ small and compact
+ perfect for finding ideal tones
Why We Liked It - Ranking in the top 10 of Amazon’s compression pedals, it’s easy to see why JOYO’s mini pedal earns itself such a high place on the market. It’s a very affordable and well-performing piece of gear that will enhance your guitar playing and make you evolve more than you ever believed you could!
Longer sustain - If you are using some low-gain overdrive and missing some sustain, a compressor could be the answer. A compressor pedal on a mild setting won't interfere with the overdrive that comes after it much. It won't change the sound too much or give you more gain. What it will do is help with those long sustained notes.
4. BEHRINGER CS400
The Behringer compression pedal has to be the most affordable pedal out on the market right now. It will give you great sound and impress you with the compression ratio, even at such a low price. If you're hesitating about getting a pedal and are unsure if it will suit your style of play, this is a great, cheaper choice to see if it fits your needs.
This simple blue box won’t distort any of your original sound like many other cheap guitar pedals seem to do. Instead, it will provide you with only fine and clear sounds. You will experience endless sustain of your sounds and very smooth compression that will make you wonder why you didn’t invest in a pedal earlier.
Armed with a very appealing design of blue, white, and black colors, this little device will make your peers wish they had the same design. This is rather uncommon with more expensive compressor pedals. It will also give you enough hold time so you can think of where you want to go next and which notes to add to the mix. If you are looking for an affordable pedal for your band practice that can take some beating, Behringer’s product is one of the best compressor pedals on the market. It's the perfect addition to any guitar rig!
+ an affordable piece of gear
+ great, appealing design
+ no distortion
Why We Liked It - Behringer has supplied the market with a very affordable compressor pedal that is perfect for anyone just starting out or looking for a piece of gear to check out the ropes of the compressor world. You will be able to plug this little device in and experiment with sustain, hold, and tone control for as long as you want!
5. MXR M102 Dyna Comp
Having a long row of 5-star reviews, it’s easy to see why the MXR Dyna Comp is so highly regarded. Not only is it the perfect average price for a compressor pedal (which makes it right in the middle of the price scale), but it also has a bright, modern red design. Wherever you take your new little compressor pedal, you can be sure it will garner attention with its attractive design.
The MXR Dyna Comp will produce a dynamic range compression, making it one of the best compressor pedals around. It has great sensitivity control and will catch all of the notes you play without any trouble. The tone is fantastic, and the compressor will be able to even out all the high, uncomfortable sounds and amplify the quiet, hardly hearable sounds. It works best with thin guitar strings rather than with thick bass strings and, therefore, is more geared towards guitar players.
Even though the MXR Dyna Comp is a simple and basic pedal stripped of any fancy unneeded functions, that is exactly the reason why it has earned the hearts of many. It has two controls and one toggle and still packs a punch, allowing for an even sound for both loud and quiet sounds. Get sustained power with the 9v power supply. It’s a simple and classic device that will fit any player!
+ evens out sound perfectly
+ classic design with easy-to-use functions
+ fantastic for single coil pick-ups
Why We Liked It - The MXR Dyna Comp is a professional device that will allow you to customize your pedal collection with something new and fresh. Control how much compression you want with the sensitivity knob. If you are looking for an affordable, average-priced compressor pedal that looks smooth and slick, the MXR Dyna Comp will provide a perfect solution for all of your dull tones!
6. Electro-Harmonix Soul Preacher
Here we have another one of Electro-Harmonix’s products that sits high on the shelves. These effects pedals are very durable and compact. They allow you to enjoy all the perks of a compressor pedal in one simple device. The silver and black design is a smooth and attractive alternative to all-black classic guitar compressors available on the market. It will fit well with all the electric gear you already have in your studio or backstage!
A clear and precise sound rendition is exactly what this little pedal will give you. At first, you won’t notice any difference whatsoever when you plug it in. But as soon as you flick the switch, you will be in for a shock of how the crisp, clear, and evened-out the sounds are. You will not want to play your guitar without the subtle warm sounds that this compressor pedal will provide you with.
It makes for a great sustain pedal, creating prolonged sustain, and helps a lot with the overdrive. It also features a volume knob. This compressor pedal will add some extra noise to your music like any other device of its kind. It’s a fantastic addition to any jamming session! Get the guitar tone you've been looking for.
+ attractive silver design
+ has a very long sustain time
+ great to boost jamming sessions
Why We Liked It - This little device will enhance your guitar sessions more than you could have ever imagined. It will provide you with a crisp and clear guitar tone that will even out any disturbances while playing! One thing is sure - you won’t want to stop using this compressor pedal once you plug it in.
7. Wampler EGOCOMPRESSOR
The Wampler Ego Compressor is definitely the second most expensive product on our list, but this versatile pedal has the right to be, thanks to all its compressor parameters. With all the features it boasts, it’s no wonder. The capacitors and the resistors have been specifically chosen to enhance the way the pedal picks up sound. They also enhance how sensitive it is to the sounds made by the guitar. This ensures that this small piece of gear will give you the best response to even out all the imperfections that come with playing the guitar.
The blend control function is also included in this model and will allow you to get the sustain easily and without a fuss. Experience true bypass switching, which is something other pedals seem to miss when they are manufactured. It boasts being the most versatile compressor on the market right now, and wisely so. It can go from smooth to harsh territory within a flick of a switch, and the volume knob gives you complete control over your sounds. These are just some of the things that make it one of the best compressor pedals on the market.
There is no doubt you will get a transparent, crisp sound with this pedal, and it won’t take much effort to do so.
+ best versatile compressor out there
+ bypass and blend control features
+ responds to sound immediately
Why We Liked It - Wampler is a very reliable brand that makes only high-quality products. These products are specifically tailored to giving your jamming sessions, studio recording sessions and live shows the best performance your instruments are capable of! There is no going wrong with the Wampler Ego Compressor; it’s truly one of the best compressor pedals out there.
8. Boss CS-3
The Boss CS-3 has been available on the market since 2007, making it a trusty and well-tested product. It has been praised by many for its smooth sound renditions. This device allows you to boost your low sounds and even out the high tones in an equated manner.
It takes a bit of time to get into the zone and figure out your own sound with this pedal, but as soon as you find the sweet spot, you won’t want to go back. There is no lag with this compressor pedal, making it a reliable device that you won’t be putting down any time soon. It is not made of plastic like many pedals of its kind, but of metal. This feature also makes it a durable device that can take a few hits on the road. Users have praised it for being almost impossible to break.
This is definitely one of the most versatile compressor pedals out there, and the tone knob is much appreciated by everyone who purchases the Boss CS-3. Experience effective attack control. A good guitar amplifier combined with this compressor pedal will give you some of the best tones you’ve experienced. With a bit of practice, you will find the Boss CS-3 a reliable addition to your gear! And if you like this model so much, why not check out the Boss CP-1X too? When it comes to compressed signal, this brand doesn't disappoint.
+ evens and boosts tones
+ extremely durable build
+ level knob essential for low noise
Why We Liked It - The Boss CS-3 is a very impressive compressor pedal with a lively blue design that will not only enhance your playing but your surroundings too. With its sturdy build and metal frame, you can rest assured that if this pedal gets any abuse, it will take and retain it well and keep on working!
9. TC Electronic HyperGravity
TC Electronic is one of the most renowned brands when it comes to compressor pedals and generating various effects to enhance your jamming sessions. It’s a tiny pedal that has 3-band compressors within its little build. This will give you a lot of exciting features throughout its lifetime. However, since this pedal is digital, it won’t do much to color your tones but more to balance strings and tunes.
Since this TC Electronic compressor is digital, it will allow you to download popular pedal set-ups from popular artists that also use this high-end product. It’s a great function if you want to be on par with the other competitors or just want to practice and experiment with options other artists can provide you with. All you have to do is take out your smart-phone and point it at the pick-up of your guitar, and you’re ready to go!
The footswitch is comfortable and won’t cause you any fuss when changing between the switches, making it an easy addition to any gear set. It features a sustain, level, attack, and blend knob. There is a lot of flexibility with the tones and their compression, and it’s very easy to turn the knobs live when rocking on stage!
+ TonePrint function
+ flexible knobs
+ fantastic compression abilities
Why We Liked It - TC Electronics gives the market an affordable and high-quality product that will last a very long time and give only the best performances. The TC Electronic Hypergravity is very easy and simple to use on stage too, so you won’t get any troubles there! This makes it one of the best compressor pedals for live performers.
10. Xotic Effects SP
Making its first appearance on the market in 2012, this compressor pedal by Xotic Effects is another less expensive product. It’s right in the middle of the common price range when comparing all the products in this niche. Like the other pedals, this Xotic SP compressor does a fantastic job in evening-out tones and sounds. They will sound fuller and richer and will not disappoint you.
The unique design will be sure to attract some attention. This little device will glow bright and liven up any studio and stage with its appealing design. The casing is as solid as Boss CS-3 would have it. This model can also take the abuse that can sometimes happen during tour trips and accidents. The blend knob proves to be very effective during jamming sessions and is a widely praised function with the Xotic Effects compressor pedal.
A bypass feature is also included with this pedal - it enhances the tones that come from your guitar and levels the punches. It has four internal dip switches. It also comes with an already installed battery. You will not suffer through any more weak notes, and the thinner strings will immediately sound stronger!
+ solid casing and unique design
+ bypass and blend control features
+ has internal dip switches
Why We Liked It - This little digital device is definitely worth your buck if you want to experience something new. It will give you some unique features that are not available with other compressor pedals. If you are looking for a product that will last a long time and give you a lot of fun in the process, Xotic Effects SP Compressor is one of the best compressor pedals for you!
Compression on your tube amp - Tube amps can be notoriously loud, which makes them hard to play in certain spaces. If you can't get your level high enough at home to hit that almost breaking point, then you aren't getting the best out of your tube amp. Adding a compressor pedal will allow you to crank the gain more with the safety net of compression.
Compressor Pedal Buyers Guide
Our Top Pick has to be the Electro Harmonix Freeze. Even though this specific compressor pedal is a bit more expensive than the average pedal, it has excellent quality that will deliver you hours of great sounds. The appealing shattering glass design will make a nice addition to the rest of your electronic kit to liven up the surroundings. This is something many other, only black pedals, don’t seem to do well.
You are able to control the sustained sound through the effect knob and switch between the fast, slow, and latch modes effortlessly. The simple and basic outlay of the compressor allows for easy switching between all options and knobs. So whether you are in the studio or on the stage, you can rest assured that the Electro-Harmonix will do its job and level out all of your high and low sounds.
It also includes a power supply. If you're looking to have some fun with a good quality pedal like the Freeze, we encourage you to take advantage of this device and purchase it as soon as you can! We can promise you won’t be disappointed, as it's one of the best compressor pedals on the market.
Our Premium Choice has to be Empress Effect’s compressor pedal. It’s an advanced pedal that is significantly bigger than all the other pedals listed in our article. That makes this studio compressor also more expensive. This is due to all the additional features that it has to enhance your playing sessions. It has an all-analog signal path to make it more comfortable to switch between the functions and three compression ratios, whether you are in your studio or rocking it out live.
The best compressor pedals shouldn't be overly complicated. This compressor is easy to control and takes charge of making all of your high and quiet sounds ring true with rich and full sounds. You will get rid of all of the dull, boring, and screeching sounds that are common when playing without effects pedals. Once you plug in the Empress Effect gear and introduce it to your other electronics, there is no doubt you will have everything you need within this averagely sized compressor pedal.
The controls are extremely responsive and will not bother you with any lag whatsoever. The mix control is also a good addition that allows you to mix and match the original signals with the level of compression. You will be able to mix and compress whichever sounds you find fit accurately, and that is why the Empress Effect compressor is our Premium Choice!
Our Great Value choice product has to be JOYO’s compressor pedal. This is by far the most affordable product on the list and is perfect for anyone looking for a pedal to try out. So whether you have a tight budget for a while or just want to explore and experience the world of compressor pedals, JOYO will provide you with an affordable product. It's also quiet. This cheap compressor pedal won’t disturb the rest of your kit. It will only level and even out the unneeded or dull sounds that come with playing the guitar.
If you want to try out a pedal with a few cool options to explore, JOYO is a good choice. You will not be disappointed with this small compressor. Even if you are on a tight budget, you will be glad to have this little guy in your arsenal. It will provide you with endless hours of explorations and interesting combinations that you can tweak and mix and match to search for and find your favorite setting. There is no doubt that JOYO earns a rightful place on our Good Value shelf! But even if this one isn't for you, you're bound to find some great compressor pedal deals with a little bit of research!
What does a Compressor Pedal do?
For many guitarists, a compressor pedal is an essential part of their gear. It sits in the signal chain and helps you enhance your already existing sounds. This device encourages exploring what is possible when you feel like you are stagnating. It also improves your compressor performance thanks to all the functions it provides.
Guitar compressor pedals adjust the audio signal of sounds to be at nearly the same aptitude, creating a compressed signal. It will make the quiet sounds louder and richer. It will also make the squeaking high notes more toned down and even, which will give you a balanced compressor performance all around. How much you can compress the sound (or signal) will depend on how much you can adjust the compression ratio. A compressor is often used when playing arpeggios, where you are prone to pluck each string with different strengths, which results in an uneven melody.
All of this means that you dampen your playing, which some artists like and some don’t. Depending on the compressor type, it can provide a clean boost, tone control, and add sustain. An optical compressor will provide more smooth tones, whereas an operational transconductance amplifier (the most common type of compressor) will add more color to your tone. Using one of these little devices is truly a personal preference, and if you are looking to experiment a bit or to sustain and even out your playing, you should pick one up and give it a go.
Do I Need a Compressor Pedal?
Each artist chooses their gear carefully; some stay away from compressor pedals like the plague, and some can’t live without the balanced sound they provide. If you have never tried one before, you will be confused by all the discussions between the pros and cons of these little metal boxes. The best solution would be to try different effects pedals out for yourself at a music store or buy one of the cheaper ones from the market. You can use an effects pedal for both an acoustic and electric guitar.
Compressor pedals allow you to even out all your sounds to enhance your playing. The effect can be either barely noticeable and subtle or will override your playing. It all depends on how you set it up and incorporate it into your gear!
Even though compressor pedals have been subjected to a lot of debate, in the end, what model and brand you go for lies in your hands. The truth is that tastes vary, and what may work for one person may not work for another. The best compressor pedal for you will depend on your needs. For example, if you're looking for a boutique pedal, you may want to check out a Keeley compressor but if you have an electric guitar and want a professional rock sound, check out the Dyna Comp. If you want a more organic sound, go for an optical compressor.
Most compressor pedals come with a range of effects for you to try out, helping to provide the best sound quality. For example, you may want a device with a comp knob, output volume control, or a compressor with dedicated parallel compression control. Even the best compressor pedals will add more noise to your playing, but you can get models with a low noise feature. There are many brands of pedals out there with various effects, compression settings, and abilities, so don’t be discouraged if one doesn’t work for you! There are hundreds, if not thousands more, to choose from, and you'll be sure to find the best compressor pedal for you.
How to use a Compressor Pedal
Compressor pedals are extremely simple to use. But keep in mind they will make a different sound depending on where you put them within the signal chain. For example, if you put it before your overdrive pedal, you will not be getting the smooth, low-gain sound that you would get if you put it in front of the overdrive.
Compressor pedals are usually placed before both overdrive and distortion effects, but everyone has a different preference!
What is the Top Compressor Pedal for Guitar?
One of the best compressor pedals for the guitar is made by Wampler: the Wampler Essentials Ego Compressor. Wampler compressors are known for their quality, and this one is no different. It's perfect for anyone who likes to have a true bypass and lots of blend control. With volume control, tone, sustain, and more, get the sound you want. If you are looking for a product that will give you full control over your guitar sounds and the atmosphere it produces, the Wampler Ego Compressor is definitely the product you should go with!
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