Extensive compressor reviews and FAQ

Crazy Tube Circuits Golden Ratio Phi: That's certainly a mouthful! It's enough names for two pedals--but that's OK because this is like two pedals in one, with separate FET and optical compression engines. Crazy Tube Circuits is a boutique pedal company from Greece. Their compressor does not use any tubes.
 
The first control of interest is a toggle switch that selects FET or opto. The FET mode is a little more crisp and percussive, and sounds almost exactly like the MXR M87. The opto mode is more smooth and organic in its action, like the Demeter. The difference is not extreme, so if you are looking for dramatically different effects, this won't suit you; but if you like being able to make subtle refinements to your signal then this is a neat treat. Neither of the modes does an exaggerated squishy effect at any setting; instead both are unobtrusive, level, and gentle.
 
Knobs for both modes include Input gain, Output volume, clean Blend, and Ratio. The Input knob sets the threshold. There is no LED to indicate the amount of compression. The Blend is backwards from most other pedals, it goes from 100% clean at the left to 100% compressed at the right. The makers say the Ratio knob goes up to 20:1 in opto mode, and a bit less than that in FET mode; but in practice it seems to only go up to a medium strength, even when I cranked the input to maximum. Neither of the modes does much of a job of limiting larger signal peaks, but both are good for general smoothing and fattening.
 
There are two additional knobs, for Attack and Release times, and each of them has a good usable range of results. These knobs only apply to the FET mode, not the opto.
 
It also has two internal trim pots. One turns down the input gain even more than the knob on the outside, so you should be able to avoid clipping even with very high output instruments. The other trim adjusts the ratio range of the FET mode only, and in the instructions they recommend a lower trim setting for high output instruments. However I didn't adjust either of these trim pots because they require a very tiny Phillips screwdriver, the kind used to repair eyeglasses, and I couldn't find one small enough around my place.
 
The tone is quite clear, close to transparent, in both modes. The instructions describe the FET engine as providing a lot of tone color, but it's really subtle even at maximum settings. There is no loss or boost of any part of the frequency range. The noise floor is quite low.
 
The construction quality is pretty good, and cosmetically it looks very cool. It runs on standard Boss-type 9V DC, which is boosted internally to 25V for high headroom. The housing is the medium size of the Diamond or older Barber pedals, and the jacks are on the top side.
 
Price in USD: About $265 new, too soon to say what it might go for used.
 

 

 
 
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