DOD Milk Box: This is actually one of the best-sounding cheap pedals I've tried. Of course, ever since I started promoting the Milkbox here a few years ago, their prices have gone up. Sorry!
It has a nice full tone, with no loss of highs or lows. The compression action is designed more for sustain than for punch or limiting. It is possible to set it to a very high amount of squash, but it has that "dip and swell" action like the Orange Squeezers or the Philosopher's Tone: the peak of your signal dips below unity, and the as the compression releases, the signal level comes back up. This does mean you will hear the noise floor rising up as each note sustains/releases, but the noise is not too bad, especially at more moderate comp settings. It seems to allow strong waves of low frequencies to pass by uncompressed. This results in a big low end tone, but it also means your signal will not be prevented from clipping the next device in line.
It also features a high-frequency expander control, which is designed to boost highs that might otherwise be reduced too much during heavy compression. Expanders are the opposite of compressors: they boost your signal in dynamic response to your playing. It works OK, but to me it only sounded good at settings below 11:00.
Compared to the BBE Opto-Stomp, the BBE has much lower noise and more transparency, but the Milkbox is better at adding sustain and fat character to the tone. Compared to the Boss LMB-3, the LMB-3 is much better at limiting peaks, but again the Milkbox has fatter tone and more sustain. Also the Milkbox does not seem to have the threshold artifacts that both the LMB-3 and the Opto-Stomp have.
The footswitch is not "true bypass", but unlike with most other DOD pedals, the buffered bypass here is quite good sounding. It actually adds something nice to the tone even in bypass. Incidentally, the unit I reviewed is a newer one with a pearlescent white paint job. The earlier model was painted with cow spots, and silly names for each of the knobs. I haven't tested one of those yet, but other people have said they sound the same.
Price in USD: $35-$75 used, no longer available new.
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