Extensive compressor reviews and FAQ

Guyatone "Flip" TC-X: Guyatone discontinued this series several years ago. They made a bass compressor as well, called the BC-X, but I rarely see those for sale--so when one of the TC-X ones showed up I snagged it.
 
It features a 12AX7 tube gain stage, which really does add some thickness and warmth, but it is not designed for any grit or overdrive on its own. Unfortunately it also adds some noise; the OTA compression circuit is often a bit noisy to begin with, and the way this gain stage was built makes it a bit more prone to picking up and amplifying noise.
 
Aside from the tube stage, the main interesting features are a clean blend and a mid-boosting EQ. The knob labeled "Shape" controls the blend, mixing the compressed signal with the uncompressed original signal. This allows you to keep more of your dynamics and natural sound while compressing heavily for extra sustain, for example. The EQ is a stacked knob labeled "Level" (the amount of boost) and "Freq" (the center frequency of the boost, ranging across the mids).
 
The Attack knob has a wide useful range, and the Level knob sets the output volume as you'd expect. The Comp knob controls the intensity of the compression by boosting your signal into the fixed threshold, so (as usual) more Comp = more noise. The action is mostly pretty smooth, with a pronounced swell as your note sustains and trails off. It is capable of a decently wide range from light smoothing to heavier squashing, but it's not really suited to hard peak limiting.
 
It gently rolls off both the lows and the highs to a certain extent. The lows are just like you'd expect from most guitar comps, and the highs sound "dark". I was able to improve the low end somewhat by replacing the input and output capacitors with 10x higher values. The tone is thick and warm, not "hi fi" clear.
 
The construction quality is decent, though I wish the tube was shielded better, and the housing is roughly the same "medium" size as Barber and Diamond. It runs on a 12V AC wall wart, so most other pedal supplies won't work. The footswitch is not "true bypass", but the bypassed tone is clean and clear.
 
Price in USD: used $100-$170, no longer available new.
 

 

 
 
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