Extensive compressor reviews and FAQ

Dinosaural OTC-201 Opticompressor: Dinosaural is the brand of a former co-founder and co-designer of the legendary UK boutique pedal company Lovetone, and they have similarly unique designs. Unfortunately Dinosaural's products are quite scarce and the compressor is not in regular production.
 
It's an optical design, with the usual two knobs for sustain and volume, but a couple of non-obvious quirks make it more interesting. The volume knob is labeled "Balance", and it turns the output of the compressed signal up from zero to full. Inside on the circuitboard is a 2-position switch that selects either standard 100% compressed signal or a clean blend. In the blend mode, the clean signal is fixed at full volume, and the compressed signal is added on top of that by the amount of the Balance knob. So in this design, the blend mode also gets more of a boost. The switch inside is labeled "Z" and "SB"; SB engages the blend, Z is for no blend.
 
It also has a 3-position toggle for cutting or increasing the input gain by 3 dB, which is enough to adapt its range of effect to most high or low output instruments. The opto compression is mostly smooth and unobtrusive, but it can get nicely squishy and rubbery at stronger settings; the +3 dB input boost setting helps get you there if you want, or you can use the 0 or -3 settings to avoid that kind of effect.
 
The tone is very close to transparent. There is zero loss of highs or lows, and in fact the entire frequency spectrum is ruler flat at all settings, except for an interesting time-based change. The most unique feature of this pedal is it was designed to accentuate the treble at the very beginning of each note, to emphasize your pick/pluck attack, and then gently lower those highs as the note decays. The amount of this effect gets stronger as you turn up the Sustain knob. So even under heavy compression, the sound from this pedal stays crisp and articulate. Your attack cuts through the mix, but it does not make the entire note bright or trebly. I love it! However if you prefer a dark, round, "vintage" tone, this is not the opto comp for you.
 
The construction quality is very good, though the label on top is just a decal. It runs on standard Boss-type 9V DC, and the housing is the small MXR size. The footswitch is "true bypass".
 
Price in USD: Honestly I have no idea what you should expect to pay for one of these; the two prices I've seen for used ones were $160 and $320, and I don't know if it is available new anymore.
 

 

 
 
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