Whirlwind OC Bass: This optical pedal comes to us from a brand you might normally associate with boring utility items such as cable snakes and interconnect boxes--however the quality and functionality of this pedal is so good that it knocks the feet out from under much of the boutique market!
There is zero loss of highs or lows, and the low end has a full, beefy sound. Even though this pedal is labeled "bass" it will work very well on guitar too. The tone is mainly transparent, with a touch of warmth. There is no noise at most settings, and not that much even when cranking the knobs up to max.
The action has the smoothness and organic feel typical of opto circuits, with a very even envelope--no "dip and swell" squashing effect. It has a toggle switch for fast, medium, and slow attack times, and those cover a wide useful range. There is also a toggle to select between "Compress" (low ratio) and "Limit" (high ratio). The Limit setting, with fast attack, does a very good job of capping big peaks for slap and aggro playing. The Input Gain knob sets the threshold, as well as helping the pedal work equally well with low-output and high-output instruments. It has a row of three LEDs to indicate the amount of compression.
Many companies brag that they consulted with big-name pro musicians to develop their latest pedal, but the resulting product usually is just the same old crap, maybe with a boost added. In the case of the OC Bass though, you can tell they took a lot of care to consider what bassists really need from a comp pedal, and what was missing from other products on the market. They don't need to brag, it just shows in each detail of the design.
The price is as high as the fancy-branded boutique pedals, but it's worth it. It is handmade in the USA, and is an equal to my other top favorites by FEA, Empress, Markbass, and Diamond. Each of those has its own unique qualities, so I still recommend each for different tastes and purposes--just because they are equally good doesn't mean they sound the same. But for value and versatility I will be recommending the OC Bass pretty often.
The housing is the same medium size as the Empress or Diamond, and it is made of heavy steel. The construction quality is very good, and the black-and-red cosmetics look pretty cool. It runs only on 18V DC, though the plug is the standard Boss size, and it comes with a power supply. The footswitch is not "true bypass", but the bypass is good and clean.
Price in USD: new $220, $130 to $170 used.
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