FX Engineering RAF Mirage: This pedal is handmade by a very small boutique brand. It aims for transparency in tone and action, and it hits the mark quite well. It reminds me of an optical design, though I don't know for a fact what type of circuit it is since the innards are encased in a thick block of black epoxy.
It has a fixed ratio, fairly low--I'd guess about 4:1--so it is best suited to light smoothing and bringing out harmonics, rather than peak limiting. The "Comp" knob appears to adjust the threshold. There is an LED that lights up brighter to indicate the amount compression, which is a feature I always appreciate. The Level knob is at unity gain at around 9:00, and this pedal can provide a huge amount of clean boost above that if you want. I did not hear any loss of highs or lows.
Comparing it to some other generally transparent comps: The BBE Opto Stomp provides about the same clarity and similar amount of usable compression, but it has an audible threshold artifact, and is larger and uglier than the Mirage. The BJFE PGC and the OKKO Coca are both capable of providing more interesting character; the Rothwell, Demeter, and BJFE are capable of stronger amounts of compression; and the Rothwell and Diamond have lower noise. Of those, only the Diamond has a metering LED. The Mirage might not be exciting, but it does its job invisibly and naturally, and does not mess with your tone at all.
It's in the small MXR size housing, it runs on standard Boss-type 9V DC, and the construction quality seems good... apart from not being able to see or access any of the internal components. The footswitch is "true bypass".
Price in USD: new $199, used $125-$150.
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