JHS Lime Aid: This variation on the Dan Armstrong Orange Squeezer is a recent release from a DIY-type pedal modder and builder. His development of the OS circuit includes a blend knob, improved low end, adjustable ratio, and some attempts to reduce the noise level. The knobs are V (volume), B (blend), and C (compression, in this case meaning ratio).
The frequency range is quite good: not the brightest OS I've heard, but with decent highs; and the low end is better than most--even better than OS's that have had the bass mods from the Tonepad site. There is still some loss (or heavy attenuation) of the very lowest frequencies, but not to a degree that will bother most people in most circumstances. For illustration, playing the low B on a bass with a lot of harmonic content, the B sounded equally good whether the comp was engaged or bypassed--but playing a filtered low B that's all fundamental, with almost no harmonics, the note disappeared. The noise level is typical of most pedal comps (audible but not terrible), and it's about the same as noise from other OS's I've used, although I was able to get lower noise at certain settings.
The big selling point is the blend knob, which allows you to mix the compressed and uncompressed signals, for more "natural-sounding" tone and action. It works quite well, although I found at middle settings you have to turn up the volume to get back up to unity, and this can raise the noise floor.
The effect of the comp is more subtle at lower ratios, and only gets into the classic OS "dip and swell" at the maximum comp setting. At that max setting it has a crisp "spanky" quality, very percussive and cool. It also provides a ton of sustain at the max setting, although as usual that sustain comes with noticeable noise. Turning down the C gets you into more transparency, less obvious effect, and assuming you turn down the volume to compensate for less compression, you get lower noise. The attack seems slower than other OS's, and the release is quite slow too. This means two things: (1) it will not work well as a peak limiter, and (2) the response of the compression before the release time has ended will be very different than the response after the release is done. In this way it's a lot like the LA3A and some other "syrupy" studio comps--as long as you keep playing, the action is super smooth; but if you rest for a few beats, the next spike you send it will peak loudly before the comp clamps down. Also the noise level is much higher in that period after the release has let go, and before your next note. So this effect will work much better for somebody playing steadily than for somebody who plays a lot of rests.
My two favorite settings are: B at 2:00, C at 3:00; and B at max, C at max. However, since there is no input level control or threshold control, your results will depend heavily on the output level of your instrument. Very high-output instruments can also make this pedal distort.
The construction is typical of DIY pedals: it has the usual good features like true bypass, a Boss-type DC jack, and decent parts; but the wiring looks very "home-made" and unprofessional. His paint/cosmetic work has improved in the few years since I wrote this review, but his pedals still have a bad reputation for their internal assembly quality. All in all, it sounds pretty good for a bass-oriented Orange Squeezer, and I actually like it fairly well with certain instruments and settings, but there's room for improvement.
Price in USD: new $199, used $150-$180.
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