SolidGoldFX Horizon: When I get a pedal in for review, I usually have some sort of preconception of what it will be like, based on what I've read about it; but I never saw any mention of this pedal before and I know almost nothing about the brand. I might also form some opinion based on how the pedal looks, but this one is entirely generic looking in both cosmetics and construction, so there's not much I could pre-judge. All that remains is to plug it in and listen. Usually when I listen to a compressor for the first time, it sounds pretty boring, so I have to search for settings where it may actually have a tone or function that is worth writing about. But when I first played through the Horizon, I immediately liked it.
The action has a syrupy squish to it, similar to the Frantone Sandwich, the Joemeek, or certain Orange Squeezers. It rolls and waves. If you are looking for invisible volume control, look elsewhere. But I find it quite enjoyable to play through this kind of compressor where the fluid action can influence the feel or groove of my playing.
The knobs include Comp, Attack, and Volume. While it is capable of light, unobtrusive compression when set to lower Comp and slower Attack, the more interesting action comes at the stronger and faster settings. It can squash quite hard, but I wouldn't recommend it as a transparent peak limiter. The attack knob has a wide useful range of time; the release time varies depending on the input and the attack, but it is generally slow.
The tone is warm and colorful; not in an extreme effect-y way, but it has a funky and pleasant character. There is no loss of highs; the lows get rolled off some, but the low mids are so fat that I actually didn't notice the reduced lows at first, and it sounds fine on bass. Probably best for someone who wants warmth but also wants to cut mud from the signal. There's very little noise at most settings.
It's an optical design, handmade in Canada. It runs on Boss standard 9V DC, and the footswitch is "true bypass". There's no LED to indicate the amount of compression. The construction quality is pretty good, and the housing is the small MXR size. This wouldn't be the pick for an all-purpose comp, but it's a great choice if you want some character and color.