Extensive compressor reviews and FAQ

Blackbox Oxygen: This pedal offers more options than most other pedals--it includes separate processors for compression, limiting, gating, and "dirt" (mild distortion or saturation). Unfortunately the noise level and other artifacts are so bad that it is difficult to appreciate any of those functions.
 
They make a point in the instructions of saying that the compressor creates no noise of its own, it only amplifies noise that's already in the signal path; but that's a very misleading statement, as this is one of the noisiest compressors I have ever used, regardless of the initial source of the noise. The only setting of the "Comp" knob that isn't unbearably noisy is the "off" position. Any time you see a pedal comp with a noise gate built in, there's a reason for it: the manufacturer knows the design is noisy.
 
The compression is very extreme even at low settings of the knob; the only way I found to get a non-extreme squash out of it was to significantly turn down the level of the signal going into it. But even then, that required turning up the output gain control more, which raises the noise level. The gating function works well enough, but no gate on earth would sound natural with such an extreme signal to manage. The limiting works fairly well, but with only one knob to control it, it's hard to dial in a truly effective setting. Also it has a sort of fizzing or fluttering artifact sound when the signal is being limited. The "dirt" function has a nice thickening quality, and does not sound like grindy distortion or overdrive per se, but more like a "fattening" effect. The highs are excellent, and the lows are OK but they can be a bit attenuated at some settings. The construction quality is OK, and the footswitch is "true bypass".
 
Overall, I think this pedal would be great for wall-of-sound noise-guitar solos, but it is not good for anything else.
 
Price in USD: $100-$150 used, no longer available new.
 

 

 
 
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