Extensive compressor reviews and FAQ

Carvin CG200: This is a rackmount line-level two-channel optical comp with gate. I had high hopes for it--partly because I like Carvin amps, and their instruments and cabs are known to provide a lot of bang per buck, and also because in theory this optical design "should be" something like the Demeter but with a lot more control over the parameters. Unfortunately Carvin dropped the ball this time.
The tone is a bit "choked" sounding, and the compression action is jerky, not smooth. The gate is much choppier than I'd expect considering it has ratio and release controls. And it took me a long time to dial in good settings for compression. I enjoy tweaking controls and fine-tuning, but honestly I got frustrated hunting for the good sounds from this unit. On the positive side, it has very low noise.
The bypass switch does not actually remove your signal from the processor, it just turns off the compression; so it is very difficult to A/B your compressed and dry sounds. And if you're using one channel, the LED's for the other channel also light up in response to the incoming signal, for no good reason. The construction quality is way below average; in fact, the interior design/layout is nearly identical to the Behringer rack unit I had. They cut corners wherever possible: the knobs and switches feel cheap, and the labeling on the front and back are just vinyl stickers, which were not applied very well. Overall, this unit was a big disappointment.

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