Darkglass Super Symmetry Compressor Review

This one has the looks going for it for sure. Love the aluminum casing and the blue LED's are super cool.


Overall, the LED metering on the Empress is more versatile (threshold, input, or both at the same time) but the blue LED's on the Super Symmetry might win out in the looks department.


Tone: somewhat darker than the likes of the Empress or Cali76 CB or Smoothie

• That darker tone is more "vintage" like and is really quite pleasing. If you don't want the more modern "neutral" punchy sort of tone, this would be one to consider • If you were considering a tube compressor but want top mounted jacks and simple 9 volt power this is a good contender • It retains the lows very well • I didn't find the range of controls to be all that diverse. Each knob does what it is supposed to, but the range is pretty subtle. Attack and release were satisfying for me. • The input and compression knobs interact with each other as you would expect. Dialing it in requires adjusting both until you find that sweet spot. • Plenty of headroom on tap and the output knob controls that. With my G&L L2500 having the input knob at 3:00 or higher brought on some distortion. • The compressor itself is pretty quiet. Comparable to the Cali76 CB. If you turn up the compression to high, you can hear it getting louder but that's to be expected. I have no issues with the amount of noise and I would have no issue using it as an always on type compressor if I was going for a somewhat warmer sound. • The highs definitely sound more subdued. I'm sure many will really like that. If you want a compressor that feels like the mids and highs "breathe" this is probably not the one for you. • I don't see this as a compressor you would want for strong squashing. IMHO it doesn't work well for that. • Top mounted jacks

With most of my basses, I personally liked the Input knob up at 1:00 - 3:00 (except the G&L). Seemed to make the compressor feel the most punchy. And its not that it isn't punchy, the inherent tone just feels warmer than other compressors.

Here's some A/B comparisons: Super Symmetry vs. CaliCB — inherently darker, both handle low end well though the CB must have the HPF higher to compare. There is a punch or initial attack inherent to the Cali that I didn't experience with the Super Symmetry even with the attack as slow as possible. Both have top mounted jacks though the Cali is more narrow but much heavier. The metering on the Super Symmetry is much better. Super Symmetry is smoother overall. Cali is capable of running at 18 volts though I don't really hear any difference between 9 volt and 18 volt. Both have plenty of headroom.

Super Symmetry vs. Empress — again, the Super Symmetry is darker. The Empress has a more open punch, the Super Symmetry is a fatter punch. Empress allows for more definition in the notes but tightens the low end rather than fattening the low end. Empress is the definition of "transparent" to me, though the Super Symmetry isn't highly colored. Just warmer. LED metering is comparable though the Empress is more versatile. Better highs and clarity with the Empress. The metering on the Super Symmetry wins in the "cool factor" department though. Top mounted jacks make the Super Super Symmetry in the form factor category in my opinion. Both have plenty of headroom. Controls are very similar between the two and in many ways are very comparable. If you want a more vintage tone, go for the Super Symmetry. More modern "neutral" tone, go for the Empress.

Super Symmetry vs. Smoothie — if you rotate the tone knob on the Smoothie counterclockwise to about 11:00 you are pretty much in the Super Symmetry tonal range and both then sound very similar. The tone knob on the Smoothie opens up more tonal variety. The top mounted jacks on the Super Symmetry mean both take about the same space on a pedalboard (even though the Super Symmetry is wider). Super Symmetry has the better LED metering. Smoothie is more versatile. IMHO the Super Symmetry easily wins in the looks department (though this factor probably matters the least).

Super Symmetry vs. Doc Lloyd Photon Death Ray — This is interesting. These two compressors (and the Cali76 CB) handle the low end well. If you are looking for compressors that let more low end through (seemingly less compressed) these three compressors would be contenders. The Super Symmetry is the the smoothest "fat" bottom end. The Cali76 CB is the most "open" fat bottom end. The Doc Lloyd is the most "punchy" and "round" bottom end. It's hard to use words to describe. I'm trying here folks. Think smooth and big for the Super Symmetry. Thing open, bright, and tight with the Cali, and think punchy, mid range, big for the Doc Lloyd. To my ears anyway. Super Symmetry has better metering by far. The graphics on the Doc Lloyd may or may not be your thing. Doc Lloyd is all about quick set and forget. You have more control over your sound with the Super Symmetry. That being said, I found tones I liked with the Doc Lloyd very quickly and easily. I haven't even adjusted it now for a while because I found a setting I really like.

A passive P bass would rock with a Super Symmetry in my opinion.

Those not wanting a super slow attack where transients don't naturally shine through would like the Super Symmetry in my opinion. This isn't a pump and swell type compressor. Look elsewhere for that.

Foot switch is the quiet clickless type which I personally really like.


Retail price: No discontinued


Darkglass.com


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Reviews by Chris Tromp 

Bassist and Marketing Guru

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