Extensive compressor reviews and FAQ

Line6 Constrictor: This is a digital pedal from Line6's "Tonecore" series. It offers three different modes of compression, each modeling (digitally emulating) a different type of compressor.
 
The sound quality is pretty good- the noise level is not bad at all, there is no loss of highs, and the tone has a nice punchy clarity. The only trouble is in the low end, which is rolled off a little bit in one or two modes, and can sound a bit thin sometimes. Also the lows distort easily if you have a high-output instrument. I was able to cure the distortion by reducing the signal level going into the pedal.
 
The first two modes have a very punchy, articulate, bright sound to them, and the third is more mushy and "vintage". There is no glitch upon crossing the threshold, however there was sometimes a bit of a "whoosh" sound in the background during the period over the threshold. The three modes are usefully distinct from each other, allowing punchier or smoother action; each mode also has a different ratio, from 3:1 to 37:1. It is capable of adding a great deal of sustain. It is not an ideal peak limiter, but to be honest it's no different or worse in that regard than most other pedal comps. It features a noise gate which is actually pretty decent. It's not "great", but it is much less offensive than most noise gates you typically find in a compressor.
 
The chassis is a heavy chunk of cast metal, very rugged, but the footswitch feels a little flimsy. It's about the size of a Boss, and it runs on standard Boss-type 9V DC. I think I'll be adding this to the list of "best cheap pedals" because it actually provides some good, useful tones for the money. For someone who wants a dramatically noticeable compression sound and plenty of sustain, this pedal delivers that better than many. The footswitch is not "true bypass", but the bypass sounds OK.
 
Price in USD: used $20 to $45, no longer in production.
 
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