Extensive compressor reviews and FAQ

Maxon CP9 Pro+: Please note there is a HUGE difference between the old Ibanez/Maxon CP9 pedal and the current CP9 "Pro+". The regular CP9 is just a bog-standard Dynacomp type, while the CP9 Pro+ is a VCA-type with much more advanced circuitry and abilities. I see people mix them up in forum discussions all the time, and it's a big mistake.
 
The Pro+ is excellent, with low noise, very clear uncolored tone, no loss of highs or lows, and smooth action. It's also quite versatile, as the threshold control makes it compatible with any instrument output level, and the ratio control covers a complete range up to infinity. As a clean "utility" compressor it is more effective, with fewer artifacts, than most of the competition.
 
A minor complaint is the attack is fixed, and will allow the initial transient spike through if you peg it with a hard note; so even though it is capable of an infinite ratio for limiting, there may be some times when a quick initial spike may pass. Another oddity is the amount of gain available- at compression ratios below 10:1, the output level is higher than unity even with the Gain knob at minimum; turning up the gain results in an incredibly hot signal. So this pedal would also make a killer booster for overdriving your amp, but otherwise you will need to reduce the input gain on on your amp to avoid clipping.
 
Compared to the Demeter and EBS, the CP9Pro+ has better clarity and range of compression, but is less "fattening" tonally. The CP9Pro+ has about the same attack time as the EBS; the Demeter's faster attack catches more of the initial transient spikes, but for that same reason the Maxon is more articulate, less soft sounding. The Aguilar TLC is a much closer comparison; they share the same basic qualities of tone and action. The Aguilar has an adjustable attack, and perhaps slightly lower noise; but on the other hand, the CP9Pro+ is a bit smaller, and has an LED to indicate your signal crossing the threshold.
 
The footswitch is a relay-based true bypass; the mechanical switch-plate requires a strong step to engage/bypass, but the bypass itself is perfect. It takes a standard Boss-type 9VDC power supply, and it has an internal "charge pump" circuit which raises the operating voltage to 18V, for higher headroom (less distortion). Some people get confused, thinking it needs an 18V supply, but that's not the case. Any normal 9V pedal supply will work, and in fact if you plugged an 18V supply into it, the resulting 36V internally would damage the pedal.
 
Price in USD: new $249, used $140-$170.
 
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