This is the latest from Wampler and is based off the popular Wampler Ego compressor but with a number of additional features. The Wong Compressor was designed in collaboration with Grammy-nominated artist Cory Wong. Notable functionality not often found on compressor pedals is the XLR out and boost function.
There are six dials, one toggle switch, one LED, and two footswitches on the face of the pedal. The Attack dial controls the compression response - counter clockwise for fast attack, clockwise for slower attack. If you want more of your initial attack to come through, rotate the dial more clockwise. Use the Sustain dial to add more sustain to your guitar tone to alter how long a note rings on. Rotating the dial more clockwise results in significantly more squish. The Sustain control is essentially adjusting the intensity of the feel of compression (the amount of compression). Like the Wampler Ego, as you turn the dial clockwise you add more effect, essentially adding "color", compression, and lowering the threshold at which the compression is triggered. Be careful with strong input signals — there is a lot of squish to be had. With bass guitars having onboard preamps, I found I didn't like the Sustain control higher than about 11:00. Past that point, it became much more "effecty" and unnatural feeling. With passive instruments and guitar, the usable range is much wider. The Volume dial adjusts the output level of the compressor circuit, allowing for makeup gain as more compression is added. Full clockwise is maximum volume. There is plenty of gain available.
I prefer compressors with blend control (called parallel compression) and the Wong compressor delivers. The Blend control helps balance the strength of the effect coming through. With the dial all the way counterclockwise, the signal is 100% dry but will slowly increase to 100% wet as the controller is rotated clockwise. With more extreme Sustain settings I found the blend control to be critical to finding the sweet spot of sustain, compression, and dynamics.
I found I tended to like the blend mostly between 11:00 and noon, just like I did with the Wampler Ego.
There is also a Tone control. Wampler documentation says using this control will add more presence to your tone by dialing this in clockwise for added brightness. With bass guitar, it is very subtle to the point of being unnoticeable. With guitar it is more useful. It must be centered at high frequency point.
If you are a bass player, don't plan on this control being all that useful.
Now, here's where things get a bit different from your typical compressor pedal. The Wampler Wong Compressor offers a boost function which is controlled by the second footswitch on the pedal. You can use this boost pedal independent of the compressor which is a great feature. Use the Boost dial to control the level of boost when the boost footswitch is engaged. Rotating the dial clockwise increases gain and there is plenty of gain to drive something further down your signal path or to really pop out in the mix. There is also a Boost Mode Switch on the face of the pedal. Use it to select either a flat frequency or a rich, saturated mid boost. This switch only affects the boost function. Again, I feel the frequency point is better suited for guitar than bass. It's fixed somewhere around 550Hz which is too high for my taste on bass guitar but is definitely useful with guitar. The LED on the face of the pedal has three distinct modes. • It illuminates green when the pedal is active (compressor on) • It illuminates blue when the boost is active • It illuminates some combination of the three when both compressor and boost are active. Sort of a white purplish color.
Another uncommon feature on typical compressor pedals is the XLR output. The JHS Pulp 'N Peel is another compressor with this functionality. You can use the XLR out to connect the Wong Compressor directly to mixing desk / pa / audio interface with a separate XLR cable. Conceivably, you could use the Wong Compressor as a single device in your signal path and just go guitar into pedal direct to console or front of house. With the volume control and boost function there would be no fear of not delivering strong enough of a signal. The XLR out is very quiet and sounds great. A ground lift switch is also provided on the output to combat any hum-related issues.
A feature I have never seen on a compressor pedal before is the Comp On button. The black toggle is located on the right side of the Wong compressor pedal and you push it in to permanently enable the compressor circuit (bypass becomes inactive). With the button pressed in, pressing the on/off footswitch on the face of the pedal does nothing. The compressor stays active. I suppose the intent is that you wouldn't inadvertently deactivate the pedal but inadvertently pressing the on/off footswitch. I can see where that could be useful if the Wong compressor was part of a busy pedal board. In my review of the Wampler Ego I said this:
If you want a compressor that is quite simple to use and retains the low end well, the Ego is a great option. It is a punchy feel and doesn't lose any low end and a real nice feel in the mids. Overall it doesn't feel "boomy". Rather, tight and punchy. The bottom end is big, but refined and not muddy. Highs are pleasing. To my ear, there might be a slight bit of treble roll off, but not much. The Ego is very balanced. It makes for a great subtle tone enhancer compressor but you can also dial in a air amount of squishiness.
All of that applies to the Wampler Cory Wong Compressor as well. The circuit itself sounds and interacts the same. It's the addition of the other features that really separates the two. Notably, the boost function, always on compressor function, mid boost option and XLR out. Like the Ego the feel and sound of the Wong Compresor reminds me of devices like the Doc Lloyd Photon, the JHS Pulp 'N Peel (without any gain circuit engaged), and the fullness and clarity of the Becos Stella. And just like the Ego compressor, headroom can be an issue. Not at all a problem with passive basses, but with the sustain and attack 2:00 or higher and driving the compressor with a bass with onboard preamp you might encounter more distortion than you'd like. The distortion could be considered pleasant, if that is your thing. At more subtle settings, it isn't an issue. The Wampler Wong compressor is pretty quiet. Not silent, but quiet enough. I doubt anybody would complain about noise introduced. It's there though and more prominent at more extreme settings, which to some degree, should always be expected with compressors. Power requirements are 9V DC centre-negative and just 30mA. Like all Wampler products, the device is a quality offering. There is a 5 year warranty included. Input and output jacks are located on the top of the pedal as is the power input. The on/off footswitch is true bypass.
The Wampler Cory Wong Compressor is a nice device offering a lot of usable functionality, great tone, and quality build.
I do think it is better suited for guitar than bass but is certainly a capable device with bass guitar. If you already have an Ego compressor and are a guitarist, the Wong would be worth the upgrade if you would benefit from the extra features. Having the XLR out could be a nice backup solution of your main output to FOH should fail.
If you like your compressors more on the effect side of things, the Wong Compressor could be a great choice due to the way attack and sustain (squish) and boost all interact. It's not that it can't be subtle, it can. But I think there are better options if subtle compression is your thing. Overall, the Wampler Cory Wong Compressor is a nice new addition to the sea of compressor pedal options these days. It's nice to see collaboration with artists and manufacturers working to push the envelope in what can be a crowded landscape. Pros: • Unique feature set including XLR out • Onboard boost function • Subtle to squish on tap • Parallel compression • Can be an "effect" type compression • Retains lows well • Cool vibe Cons • The range of compression might be come too much too quickly for some • Possibly better suited for guitar than bass • Noise at some settings • Tone control not useful with bass guitar