The Wampler Ego is an OTA circuit encased in a beautiful sparkle gloss enclosure.
Many months ago I tried the Wampler Mini and found myself wanting more control over the attack in particular. The Mini only has a switch to control the attack a predefined settings. The full-size Ego has a traditional knob allowing for a much wider range. After spending a lot of time with the Ego I will say I do like the higher range of attack timing the knob affords. Of course with the additional controls comes the trade-off of a larger enclosure.
There are 5 dials, one LED, and footswitch on the face of the Ego.
The Sustain knob controls the amount of sustain and compression. There is a useful range across the whole dial. As you turn the dial clockwise you add more effect, essentially adding "color", compression, and lowering the threshold at which the compression is triggered.
There is no LED indicating gain reduction or point at which compression is engaging. Use you ear!
The Attack knob also has a useful range and controls how quickly the compression takes effect. Turning more clockwise slows down the attack (allowing more initial transient through). I found my personal sweet spot at around 2:00 to 3:00.
This isn't the ideal compressor to use as a limiter. It is a very useful device for smoothing out your playing and tone, however.
The Tone knob is essentially a sort of treble adjustment but it is very, very subtle. On bass it is so subtle that I doubt some people will even notice much, if any tonal difference as you adjust the dial. It is there though and turning all the way clockwise does introduce more "sheen" up top.
The Blend knob allows you to mix of the compressed signal with your original uncompressed signal. 100% clean is all the way counterclockwise, 100% compressed is all the way clockwise. I found my sweet spot with the Blend knob around 11:00 AM for a little more dry signal blended. The blend knob makes a big difference and the amount of clean signal included will have significant effect on the amount of the compression effect you realize. With some compressors I find the blend control having only minor effect on the overall sound and feel of the compression. Not so with the Blend control on the Wampler Ego. It will get pretty "effecty" with the blend all the way clockwise (100% compressor, no dry signal). Blending in more dry signal restores dynamics, transients and really allows for a lot of "punch". Very nice!
Volume knob controls the total volume output, and provides make up gain as you increase the effect. There is plenty of gain on tap.
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.
The feel and sound reminds me of the Doc Lloyd Photon, the JHS Pulp 'N Peel (without any gain circuit engaged), the fullness and clarity of the Becos Stella, and Pettyjohn Crush.
Headroom can be an issue. I found absolutely no issue using the Ego with any bass in passive mode. A couple of my basses with 18 volt preamps offered a bit much in output which tended to drive the Ego causing it to distort. Interestingly, that distortion was pleasing and not abrasive. Actually quite usable if that is your thing. Reminds me of what happens with the Diamond compressor when driven too hard. It requires a judicious touch with the input gain.
The Wampler Ego is pretty quiet. Not silent, but very quiet. I doubt anybody would complain about noise introduced.
The LED lights blue when power is applied. The footswitch is true bypass and is the silent "clickless" variety. This is my personal preference of foot switch type. Input and output jacks, are top mounted.
The Ego will run off of 9v or 18v power but is optimized to function best at 9v. Power input is top mounted.
In summary, the Wampler Ego looks great, performs well, sounds great, and has the essential controls covered. From subtle, to punchy, to more squishy it is all there. It's one of those tone enhancers that you really notice after you've turned it off. I quite like it.
Retail price: $199.97