Demeter's new Compulator Pro is essentially the same as the Compulator [reviewed in September ’03] with a few small additions. Those familiar with the older version of this pedal can still count on a ton of warmth, transparency, and useable tones, but now with the addition of knobs to control attack and release.
Modeled after the “soft-knee” compression (gentle attack) of the vintage Teletronix LA-2A rack compressor, this optical compression has a remarkable ability to sound smooth and natural without getting overly squashed or “bouncy,” as other stomp compressors can. The Compulator adds no obvious EQ spikes, and depending on your settings, it can significantly enhance the natural warmth and fatness of your tone without sounding “effected.” With both the ATTACK and RELEASE knobs set to FAST, you can replicate the vibe of its vintage predecessor, but such extreme compression settings can compromise high frequencies and dull the attack of notes that are picked, tapped, slapped, or otherwise. By rolling either of these knobs to a slower setting, you have much more control over the compression’s onset and decay. The pedal is very userfriendly; I would personally be torn between just leaving it on all the time vs. using it as an effect/boost.
Among the new features, Demeter has included a GAIN switch on the side to bring lower-gain instruments up into a heavier compression response, or simply for adding a boost when the pedal is on. This feature is great if you are using a couple instruments with different gain structures on one gig. Another difference is that the trim pot sets the amount of gain in BOOST mode (up to 24dB), whereas the original Compulator simply set your input gain. With passive pickups I found the effect to be nice and clean, but I did experience some distortion with an active bass (which I easily fixed by reducing the trim pot gain). As with all compression, the higher you rev up the gain and squash, the more noise you are putting into your output. Still, the Comp Pro is on the quiet side, especially when used for basic limiting and tone fattening.
Our little yellow friend is powered either by a 9-volt battery or a tip-positive 1/8" AC adapter. It was much quieter working off a battery, not to mention I had to conduct an extensive search to find the proper power supply. I’m not sure why Demeter decided on 1/8", as those connections are considerably less common in the pedal-power world. But in the realm of stomp-compressors, this one has certainly earned its “Pro” distinction. —Matthew Charles Heulitt
DEMETER COMPULATOR PRO
Pros Excellent-sounding compression with good flexibility
Cons Bizarre external power method