Bridges and How They Affect the Sound of a Banjo
Bridges indeed do have their own contribution to the voice of your banjo. A compensated bridge is a bridge that is not straight but is somewhat U-shaped with notches that make each string a different length from the nut. In theory, each string should be a specific length for precise intonation all the way up the fingerboard. A bridge that is “compensated” is one that makes each string a different length to accomplish the improved pitch up and down. It is heavier than most bridges and so sustains alot and has good bass with sweet tone. I can't say it is louder or punchier but it may appear louder because the clarity of the tone projects better than a slightly muffled tone.
As a general rule, the thicker and heavier a bridge is, the sweeter and more bassy it is. The thinner and lighter a bridge is, the faster and crisper the response. However, every banjoist has a different touch and draws out of each banjo a different sound.The Snuffy Smith bridges are nicely made and tend to be fairly thick.
While these rules of thumb are interesting and can offer some guidance, the best approach is to try bridges until you find the sound you are after. If you want more bass, then a light, thin bridge is probably not going to be what you want. The bridges that compensate the third string only, are not usually dramatic in effect in "sweetening" or correcting intonation. Fully compensated bridges do offer excellent correction and can tend to be a little thicker and heavier. We have some curved bridges made by Warren Yates with innovative features like maple feet with coconut shell top. This bridge has a sharp,biting tone, which is great if that is the character you are after.
Much of these differences can really only be discovered by experimenting. If you use the rules o fthumb, decide which direction you want to go, and listen to your tone with each bridge, I think you will find the punch, power and sweetness that you are after.