Analogman Bi-Comprossor: I first reviewed this pedal back in 2006. In mid 2013 Analog Mike made some major updates to his design, and now he has sent me a new one for review. The updates include: a buffer at the output so it sounds better when going into long cables or low-impedance loads like a volume pedal; wider range at the low end of the Sustain knob, for gentler compression or clean boost; stronger output with no phase reversal; and the option of a toggle switch that raises the high frequencies on the Ross side.
This is one of the granddaddies of the boutique pedal world, and still very popular. As much as I put down Ross clones generally, I have to give props to Analogman for his early and continued success with this model.
It combines a Ross and an Orange Squeezer clone in one box. Each effect has its own bypass footswitch, and they can be used separately or together in series. Each circuit aims to retain the famous tone color and squashy effect qualities of the Ross and Dan Armstrong originals, in contrast to so many other modern versions that are tweaked to make the effects more transparent, less effect-y. Of course whether that's good or bad depends on your needs.
The Ross has a severe cut of the lows and highs, making it strongest across the mids and high mids. This makes it ideal for many guitarists and how they want to sit in the mix, with a hard punchy tone that cuts without being harsh. It is useless for bass, unless you don't want much low end. The Ross is most known for its sustain, which inherently comes from fairly intense compression; the new version here keeps that ability, but adds more range of light, less intense compression if you want. The pedal I'm testing has a 3-position toggle switch labeled "N" which allows more highs through, in a broad shallow slope, for the classic "Rickenbacker jangle" guitar sound. Analogman calls it the "Ryck mod". Of course with more highs comes more noise ...maybe that explains the "N"? At the regular setting, the noise level is the same as most other decent Ross types.
The Juicer side actually doesn't cut off lows or highs at all. It is such an intense squisher that it caps off the peaks of low waves to a degree that makes the lows seem less strong or deep; this is really the main thing I mean about Orange Squeezers not having a full low end. In other words, the lows get clamped down, but not actually cut off. So it's very usable and nice on bass, as long as the inherent squish of the effect suits you. The tone is fat, rich, and warm. In my review of the earlier version, I said the Juicer was intolerably noisy; I'm glad to report this new one has fixed that problem! It's still not noiseless, but now the noise floor is the same as any other well-made OS clone, perfectly acceptable. Because of this fix, and because the Juicer has more pleasing tonal color than a lot of other OS clones, I have to give it the nod as possibly my favorite OS clone. There is an internal trim pot for adjusting the bias, which changes the intensity and distortion of the squashing.
In short, I think Analogman has done as good a job as possible of the original idea of "clones": getting the familiar old-school tones in a modern package. If you want the smallest, quietest, most transparent, or most versatile versions of these effects, then there are many other products and brands to choose from. But if you just want the classic sounds, in a reliable well-built form, this is your first stop. As far as whether to buy the BiComp, or buy the CompROSSor and Juicer separately, it just depends on whether you already know (and love) both of the effects. As a bassist, I would only use the Juicer.
The housing is the usual medium size of Barber or Diamond, and the construction quality is very good. It takes standard Boss-type 9V DC, and the footswitches are "true bypass". There are individual on/off LEDs, but no LEDs to indicate the amount of compression.
Price in USD: new $275-$295, used $190-$250
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