The Wampler EGO compressor has become a modern classic quite rapidly. Made for guitar, but definitely worth checking out for bass. Let’s take a closer look and listen…
First impression. The Wampler EGO just looks and feels killer when you first take it out of the box. The sparkling blue color may be up for debate, but I have to admit that I like it a lot. And that super-bright blue LED just makes it even more attractive. But enough about the look and feel, it’s time to get down to business.
The EGO features 5 turning knobs that control SUSTAIN, ATTACK, VOLUME, TONE and BLEND. The first two relate to the compressor parameters. SUSTAIN works as a simple more-compression-as-you-turn (clockwise) while the ATTACK defines how fast the compression kicks in – the lower the setting, the faster the attack.
The VOLUME is also related to compression in the sense that all compressors by nature alters the overall output level, and therefore, most of them also feature a volume or ‘makeup gain’ control to compensate. In this particular case it’s not so much a ‘make-up’ control as the overall volume actually tends to increase as you turn up the sustain.
Another typical consequence of compression is loss of tone. Some compressors lose some low-end, which obviously rules them out as being fit for bass. Others lose the highs, and the TONE control on the EGO was intended for recovering lost highs.
Finally, the BLEND knob is a simple way to mix your dry tone with the compressed signal – a technique also known as parallel compression. This is a great feature that allows for quite heavy compression that is just blended in gently which makes a very different kind of tone than for instance more gentle compression applied to the full signal. One thing to bear in mind, though, is that if you turn the blend knob all the way down, none of the knobs but the VOLUME are functional. In fact, by doing this, you turn the EGO into a clean booster..
NOTE! Please use headphones or ‘real’ speakers. You simply can’t judge low-end material on laptop, tablet or phone speakers…!
NOTE! If you are on a mobile device, please turn it to landscape mode to see the knob settings of the pedal for each audio clip.
The EGO’s ‘range’ is wide, that’s for sure. And it sounds great within the majority of that range. But it does get over-the-top to my taste when you reach the more extreme settings such as SUSTAIN all the way up. But then again, the BLEND knob compensates for that, and you could easily argue that with the option of parallel compression on board, you actually need to be able to enter that hard-über-slamming comp territory. The TONE control is a nice touch too, and having dedicated ATTACK control is always great.
As a small additional feature, if you turn the BLEND knob all the way down, you could use the EGO s a clean booster since the VOLUME knob is still functional. It would probably not be reasonable to buy the EGO to use it just as a booster, but it could serve that purpose as well if you just need a booster on a few tunes (and no cop at the same time).
As mentioned in the opening, the sheer look and feel of the pedal when you first open the box is overwhelming. This is a quality pedal and the hands-on feel of the knobs and the sound, confirms that as well. It does introduce some noise to the signal, which is the nature of compressors, but not more than other similar pedals and not more than what should be expected.
Design/usability-wise Wampler made some choices and good ones. While having access to individual Release and Ratio controls would have been great, the number of – and size of – knobs also need to be reasonable. The SUSTAIN parameter basically functions as a more-or-less compression control in one knob, affecting the threshold as well as ratio simultaneously. And having control over the Attack is much more useful than Release in most cases. So, the choice to go for a TONE control and the BLEND option is a big plus in my book.
The Wampler EGO is a boutique pedal, but not the most expensive of its kind either. It retails new at around $200 (March 2015), which is a fair price for such a well-equipped and great-sounding pedal. High on value without being outrageous.
All things considered, this is a great pedal. Not my first choice for everything, but versatile enough to be able to take on just about any compression task you’d throw at it.
Sounds really good
Well-built and designed
Good value for money