Empress Compressor review

Studio compression in a pedal

  • £215
  • €249
  • $249
The Compressor offers an impressive amount of control for a stompbox

MusicRadar Verdict

Studio-style compression, with uncoloured tonality, in a pedal.


  • +

    Lots of control for fine tuning. LED meter lets you see what's happening. Mix control prevents squashed tones.


  • -

    Control legends hard to see. Pricey!

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Founded by designer Steve Bragg, Canada-based Empress Effects offers a broad and increasing range of stompboxes with more than a different slant or two. The Compressor, for example, is not your usual plug-in and squash variety.

"An excellent addition to your pedalboard if standard compressors don't cut it for you"

It offers 2:1, 4:1 and 10:1 switchable ratios, input, attack, release, mix and output chassis- mounted rotary controls, a 10-LED meter (switchable to display gain reduction, input volume or both) and true bypass switching with jack input and output.

On top of all that, there's a side-chain TRS loop input for a filtered signal so the compression works only on part of the input - for example, the lower frequencies of a bass guitar.

In Use

Unless you're familiar with studio-style compressors, a read of the manual is essential. What you have is very precise control. Firstly, the LED meter let's you see what's happening - handy if you're lightly compressing or limiting peaks on a percussive acoustic guitar.

Secondly, that mix control means you can blend some of the original signal with the compressed signal to avoid things sounding over-squashed.

An excellent addition to your pedalboard if standard compressors don't cut it for you. It's a shame the control legends are so hard to see in all but the brightest lighting.

Dave Burrluck

Dave Burrluck is one of the world’s most experienced guitar journalists, who started writing back in the '80s for International Musician and Recording World, co-founded The Guitar Magazine and has been the Gear Reviews Editor of Guitarist magazine for the past two decades. Along the way, Dave has been the sole author of The PRS Guitar Book and The Player's Guide to Guitar Maintenance as well as contributing to numerous other books on the electric guitar. Dave is an active gigging and recording musician and still finds time to make, repair and mod guitars, not least for Guitarist’s The Mod Squad.