Extensive compressor reviews and FAQ

Palmer Deepressor: This brand is mostly famous for their speaker simulators, DI boxes, and other interconnect gear, but they have recently produced a line of fx pedals including a compressor. There is a bass model (PEBDP) and a non-bass model (PECOMP); the only difference I know about between them is the bass one adds a button for padding the input level or sensitivity. The one I am testing is the non-bass version, but it came in a box labeled for the bass one.
I'm not sure what type of compression circuit it is. To get a look at the key components would require disassembling all of the knobs, jacks, and foostwitch, and I'm not going that far. The action and sound remind me of an old-fashioned OTA type.
The knobs include Level, Attack, and Sustain. The attack knob has a very wide range of control, however it goes from "a bit slow" to "extremely, ridiculously slow". In other words it does noticeably work to control the attack time, but you had better not want fast response (like for catching sudden peaks). The release time is fixed, and it is extremely slow. This sort of very slow attack and release times is best suited to the kind of compression where you keep your signal over the threshold fairly consistently, with steady playing. So it works well as a thickener and sustainer, but it is no good for clean peak limiting.
The lows sound nice and strong, though technically there is a small amount of rolloff, but most people wouldn't notice. The highs have a more noticeable sloping rolloff, giving it a dark, somewhat warm sound. Otherwise the tone is clear and not very colored.
The noise level is a bit too high at most settings. As you let your note decay, and the compression releases, the noise floor swells up along with any buzz or hum that might already be in your signal path. Of course this is true with many traditional compressors, especially the ones marketed as "sustainers", and really it just means the threshold is inherently very low and the ratio quite high. But it seems so old-fashioned to hear this much noise swell, I don't expect it from modern designs. The pad switch on the bass model should help reduce the amount of that swell.
The construction quality is very good, quite rugged, with a heavy steel housing. The main box of the body is just a bit larger than the "medium" size of Barber or Diamond, plus another inch of steel flange surrounding the in/out jacks. There is no meter to indicate the amount of compression. It runs on Boss-standard 9V DC. The footswitch is "true bypass".

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