Dedalo Gorila: I reviewed the older version a few years ago, and liked it quite a bit. Now in mid 2016 I have the "Gor-3" version here, which adds a blend knob to the features. This handmade optical pedal comes to us from Argentina; in Spanish gorilla is spelled with only one "L". It's called a bass compressor, but it will work equally well with guitars.
The tone is warm but clear; not "perfectly transparent", but clean. There is no loss of highs or lows, and the frequency response is more or less flat across the range, which is an improvement over the earlier version. The EQ knob is a tilting EQ much like the one in the Diamond, where turning to one side cuts lows and boosts highs, and turning the other way does the opposite. The point where it tilts is 250 Hz, and it has just a modest range of cut and boost, meant only for light tone shaping. Turning it just a few degrees left of center results in a nice fat warm sound.
The noise level is not too bad, but not as low as the MXR M87 or some of my other top picks. The noise floor is affected by the output gain control, but not affected by the Comp knob--apart from how you may need to turn up the gain when compressing more heavily.
The Comp knob is a threshold control, with a very wide range, so it responds well to both low-output and high-output instruments. It doesn't distort unpleasantly even when feeding it a very hot input signal. The action is quite smooth, level, and not like a squishy effect, even at strong settings. The earlier version would "dip and swell" when you push it harder, but the new one does not do that. The ratio is adaptive (responding to changes in your signal peaks) in a range between 3:1 and 6:1, a "medium" amount generally. You can get heavier compression by lowering the threshold (turning the Comp knob clockwise), or get very subtle results just by raising the threshold. It is best suited to general smoothing rather than hard peak limiting. The attack control has a decently wide range of response. There is an LED that indicates the amount of compression, and it does its job well.
The construction quality is very good, and the footswitch is "true bypass". The housing is the "medium" size of Diamond or Barber. It runs on standard Boss-type 9V DC.
There are many optical pedals on the market, so here are some comparisons:
The Diamond has a finer tone and lower noise, but it does not have a blend function.
The Demeter is smaller, the Moen Unicomp is cheaper, and the BYOC Opto is both smaller and cheaper; however none of them handles a wide range of input levels as well as the Gorila, and none have a threshold indicator light, attack control or blend function.
The FEA OptiFET is much more versatile, and has lower noise, but it costs twice as much.
Really the noise from the gain stage is the only thing keeping this pedal from competing as an equal to the more expensive boutique units. But all of its good qualities and features make the Gorila a great value choice!
Price in USD: new $160, used $100-$130.
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