Carl Martin Classic Opto: This pedal is part of CM's budget line, and it actually provides a lot of value for the money. I get emails all the time asking for a suggestion of a pedal that is better quality than the cheapest choices, but not as expensive as the premium ones. This CM Classic Opto is the answer to that question.
It features not only the typical comp and level knobs, but also a wide-ranging input gain control, for adjusting the threshold, and a very effective attack control. These controls actually put it well above even some of the more expensive pedals in terms of dialing in the ideal response to your instrument and your playing style. The compression action is a smooth optical squish, not extreme but having that classic swell action. It is capable of a wide range of action, from gentle smoothing to peak limiting; although as a peak limiter it is not as fast or hard as some might like, and the squash is not very "natural" sounding when hit hard.
The tone is fairly clean, with nice full lows. The highs are not rolled off, but they are kind of dull sounding, to be honest. In fact the dullness of the highs is really about the only thing keeping this pedal from toppling the more expensive competition. The noise level is impressively low.   The footswitch is not true bypass, but the bypass is very clean. The construction quality is decently good, and it runs on standard Boss-type 9V DC. The first version had a large weird retro wedge-shaped housing, very annoying if you are trying to fit it on a pedalboard. Newer ones have a more normal rectangular box, bigger than it should be, but more convenient than before. If you are on a budget, I recommend this pedal very highly!
Price in USD: used $70 to $80, new $135.
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