Extensive compressor reviews and FAQ

DOD 280: This is DOD's first comp pedal, from the late 1970's to early 80's. The orange version was also reissued sometime in the 90's. A few versions have come out over the years, and I have two different ones here for review: one is orange with white markings and the other is gray with orange markings. They're the same basic design inside, but they sound and act a bit differently due to some component variations.
It's an optical comp circuit; the gray one uses the same opto-isolator package used by most modern opto pedals, while the orange one has a less-common IC chip (CLM-50) opto element. The other notable difference is the sweep of the comp knob; the orange one gets into extreme compression earlier in its knob sweep than the gray one does, at least with the ones I have here. This may vary from pedal to pedal.
The gray one has fairly low noise at moderate comp levels; the orange one has a more noticeable noise floor (though the noise is not too bad), and its tone is a bit more "energetic". Also the orange one's action is more exaggerated: deeper dips in level while compressing, and bigger swells of sustain. The gray one dips and swells too, but it's not nearly as noticeable until you crank the comp knob up higher. Neither of them loses any highs, and in fact the high end sounds nice and crisp and clear; they both lose about the same amount of lows as a typical Ross/Keeley/Dynacomp. Sometimes the big signal swells of the orange one are cool, like a Slow-Gear effect, but other times the deep dip at first just makes you wonder where your note went. With both pedals, the fixed attack is slow, letting more of your natural note attack through for pick articulation. The tone overall is full and bright. Combine that tone with the dip and swell action, this pedal seems like it would be best for country or surf guitar.
The housings are heavy and solid. There is no on/off indicator LED. It takes a male 1/8" DC plug, not the usual Boss barrel plug. The footswitch is not "true bypass", however it is a rugged hardwire switch and the bypass is surprisingly transparent--though it may not be so good in long pedal chains.
Price in USD: used $25-$90, no longer available new.


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