Maxon CP101: This review is of the current-production model with black paint. I don't know if it's any different from the older red-painted ones, but I may do a comparison at some later date.
It's an optical pedal with a fairly transparent sound, mostly uncolored and open. The action is quite natural as well, but better for general smoothing-out of your signal than for punchiness. Also the ratio is fixed at 4:1, so it will not provide much peak limiting or squash. The noise level is about the same as the Ross/Dynacomp/Keeley types, slightly higher than some boutique pedals but not too bad. The highs are good, although not super bright or clear. The lows are decent too, better than the Ross/Dyna types at some settings, but I found that the lows would roll off more if I didn't have the Sustain knob set just right. Additionally, a bass with a hot output signal will cause the CP101 to distort badly.
Once you've found the right Sustain setting for you and your instrument, this is a pretty good unit; but it took me a surprising amount of testing to find that sweet spot, and it worked best with an instrument that has low-to-moderate output levels. The housing is the small MXR-sized box, and it runs on standard Boss-type 9V DC. The footswitch is not "true bypass", but the bypass is fairly clean.
Price in USD: new $169, used $80 to $100
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