Extensive compressor reviews and FAQ

Darkglass Supersymmetry: Finnish boutique builder Darkglass has made a big impression on the market with their overdrives and preamps, and now they bring us a compressor. The name "Super Symmetry" and the description "115 GeV" on the pedal are both references to predictions about the Higgs boson in particle physics, so we can expect that Darkglass designs are not stuck in the past.
 
The controls include Blend (clean/parallel mix), Input gain, Compression (ratio), Output volume, and Attack and Release times. Clean blend allows you to regain some natural articulation that can be lost with compression, especially when using heavier comp settings. The input gain controls the threshold. I'm not sure of the exact range of ratios available, but it can go from very subtle to fairly strong... maybe 10:1? The range of attack time is narrow, but really most of us will just want a subtle adjustment there, from instant to "not quite so fast". The release time has a very wide usable range.
 
It doesn't cut the lows at all, and there are no humps or scoops in the mids. The highs are attenuated a little bit, giving the tone overall a warm, dark, organic quality rather than the bright crisp sound you might expect from a modernistic design. Aside from that it is clean and mostly uncolored. You can bring back some brightness by using the Blend function. The noise level is quite low; you can get the best low-noise results by turning the input gain up higher.
 
The action is very smooth and even, with no dips or swells. The note attack, at all settings of the Attack knob, is slightly soft, which goes along with the darkish tone to create a fat thick smooth sound. At high ratio and medium-to-slow release times it can do a pretty decent job of catching strong peaks, but it is not a hard knee brick wall limiter. The input gain has a good range for matching the pedal up with even very high output basses.
 
The construction quality is excellent, and it has a slick modern appearance. There is a long row of tiny blue LEDs, very cool and sci-fi looking, for metering the amount of compression. It runs on Boss-standard 9V DC. The footswitch is a very good quality buffered bypass. The housing is the medium size of Barber or Diamond, and all the jacks are on the top end, which helps tighten up your pedal board.
 
Compared to the MXR M87, the Darkglass is larger, but better constructed; and the M87 has brighter highs, while the DG has a fatter warmer sound. The Empress is the same size and quality; it has better highs and clarity, while the DG has fuller lows. The Keeley Bassist is smaller and more neutral in tone, while the DG has MUCH better metering. I actually think I'd recommend the Darkglass most to someone who was considering a tube compressor for its warmth or "vintage sound", but not wanting to use an uncommon power supply. It's quite similar to the Smoothie with the tone tilted a bit to the bass side, though again the DG has better metering. The Origin Cali76TX has a better combination of deep lows and clear highs, and I just love the Cali's action, but of course it is much bigger, and lacks the blend function.
 
Price in USD: new $300, too soon to say what the used price will be.
 
or on Amazon
 

 
 
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