There are several adjectives you’ll often hear or see while looking through the features of effects pedals. Even though the same words are utilized, they mean different things depending on the specific effect we’re talking about. This is especially true when we’re talking about versatility. It has been used countless times for describing units, as it’s one of the most desirable properties. With distortion, it can imply that the stompbox offers numerous effects, while it might indicate on the amount of tone-shaping options with preamps and other tools. Since today we’re talking about bass compressors, let me define versatility with this particular effect: in this case, it means that you get full control over your tone, as well as a wide range of options with each knob. The bigger the scope of each control, the more versatile a bass compressor becomes. If such a unit is what you’re looking for, then you are in the right place, my friend. It isn’t too often that we encounter the pieces we fall in love with, but it’s still possible. Let me introduce MXR M87 to you. This puppy is a tool you’ll never let go off, since it combines versatility with the expertise of the brand. Want to find out more information about this particular unit? Then let’s get this party started already!
We can all agree that compressing your signal isn’t an easy task. Even though you need a certain amount of background knowledge with every single effect out there, this one requires a bit more sophisticated approach. For this reason, we should always appraise and appreciate the models that turn that process into something easy and joyful. M87 does that without robbing qualities from your sound. It comes in a durable case that will easily withstand frequent transportation in the back of your van, a drop or two or even vigorous stomping. The design is spectacular here: the only colors you’ll see here are black and white. But that’s only before you plug in. Once activated, this puppy will illuminate its colorful LEDs that can be really useful for live performances. Plus, it comes with Gain Reduction meter, which displays the varying level of gain reduction and the response time of the compression. This tiny addition sets M87 apart from the competition and makes its usage really convenient both on stage and in practice rooms.
The secret behind this pedal lies in the circuitry. It utilizes Constant Headroom Technology (CHT), which means you get a lot of headroom here i.e. clean and pristine sounds. This way you’ll avoid distortion and unnecessary clipping at any settings and be able to get the maximum usage of its transparency. What’s more, it utilizes true hardwire bypass that will prevent your sound from getting sucked by the pedal. M87 can be powered by a single 9V battery or an adapter – the choice is yours. Let’s not forget that this fella offers a wide range with every setting and leaves a lot of room for precise experimentation. After all, without tweaking and exploring, there’s no way you’ll nail your compressor.
From what I’ve discussed above, it’s natural to have certain fears if you’ve never used a compressor before. Thinking about such a queer, yet confusing unit can be overwhelming to say the least. I’ll assure you, you have nothing to worry about. MXR has included a comprehensive manual which includes sample settings that could be really helpful in the beginning. Plus, I’ll discuss the functionalities of each available control below, so that you’re ready for the pedal once it arrives at your doorstep.
It can be said that we get a typical package here. Even though there’s nothing extraordinary about the available controls, it should still be noted that you get more options here compared to the standard units on the market. The panel starts with Release. It determines how fast your signal will come back to its unaffected gain level. Then we have Attack, which sets the time after which compression will start operating. Next one is Output, which sets the level of the pedal and makes up for the volume lost during compression. Ratio changes the intensity of compression and ranges from 4:1 to 20:1, while Input acts as a threshold control and determines the gain level of your bass as it enters the unit. As you can see, all the knobs are easily configurable here – you just have to take it slow and listen carefully to the changes you make.
As I have mentioned in the beginning of this article, M87 is an extremely versatile pedal as it offers different results with each turn of the knobs. It’s transparent, which means it doesn’t color your tone. But it still fattens up your bottom-end and attenuates the peaks without ruining the dynamics. Let’s just say that this puppy is a typical high quality product in terms of compressing capabilities. However, there’s more. This fella can be utilized as a limiter. By employing extreme settings on the Ratio and maxing out the parameters of Attack and Release, you can squash any peaks and set up a high barrier for those nagging bastards. You can experiment with cranked up Ratio as much as you want – it depends on how much of limiting you want to play with. M87 works wonders both as a limiter and a compressor: it knows what your bass needs. And its meter can be a real help as it simplifies the whole process.
If I were you, I wouldn’t think twice. I’d just go online and invest in MXR M87. Yes, it does have some flaws but if I’m being honest, you won’t even notice them unless you’re nit-picking. This bad boy has it all – versatility, wonderful sonic quality and simplicity. It responds to your bass like a dream and affects it without ruining anything in its character. Rather, it amplifies everything that needs to stand out and turns your performance into a work of art. Good luck!
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