Moen Uni-Comp: This optical pedal from China is a very strong contender among the cheaper pedals out there. The compression action is quite smooth and natural, with no artifacts, and there is hardly any noise. It can squash fairly strongly if you push it hard, but it's not suited to peak limiting. I'd say its action is a lot like the BBE Opto Stomp, Diamond, or other similar units. There is a lot of extra output gain available via the 'level' knob, so you can use this to overdrive your amp quite well if that's your thing.
The one major quirk of it is the "Bias" knob, which is actually a tilting EQ: turn it to the left and it boosts the lows while cutting the highs, turn it to the right and it cuts lows while boosting highs. The knob setting that seems the most "flat" is about 1:00, but even with that the lowest and highest frequencies are rolled off. In other words the EQ is a bandpass, only allowing a certain range of frequencies through in a wide bell shape. So that's bad news for a user who wants transparency and the fullest frequency range. But the good news is if you are the type of player who rolls back the tone knob on your bass, or turns down the tweeter on your cab, you can get a fantastic fat warm old-school tone with tons of lows by turning the Bias knob to the bass side just a bit. Or if you're a guitarist looking to tighten up the lows and bring out the upper harmonics, you'll turn the knob a little to the right, and be very happy. Note to ebay seller "hazedconfused": it really insults your customers' intelligence when you use meaningless ad copy lines like "ultimate bias control!". It's a one-knob EQ for crying out loud.
One other potential hassle is there is no control for adjusting the input level, so some instruments may have output too high or too low in level to get the best results from this pedal. The footswitch is "true bypass". The construction quality seems solid, and it runs on standard Boss-type 9V DC. The one I tested is fairly large, a bit bigger than the Diamond/Barber/BBE size. They now make a smaller version called the "Ulite", but I haven't tried that one yet; other users have told me it sounds the same.
Price in USD: new $63, used $25-$45.
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