Extensive compressor reviews and FAQ

Aphex Punch Factory: This optical comp pedal was available in two versions: an orange one and a weird tank-like silver one. The orange one was on the market for several years, and it was quite popular, though it had some issues. Then Aphex discontinued that one and released the silver version, which almost nobody bought, and about a year later they discontinued it and announced they were getting out of the pedal business altogether.
 
The main selling points of the original orange one were its low price and great transparency of tone. The main problems with it were that its plastic jacks tended to break off the circuitboard, and it only had a very low ratio, suitable only for light smoothing compression. As long as you only needed a subtle effect, and as long as you were careful with the jacks, it was a great value with extremely clean sound (at least at moderate settings).
 
The "Drive" knob controls how much your signal is boosted going in to the circuit. It is possible to get a stronger compression effect by cranking that knob to a high setting (above 7), but at that point it amplifies the noise in your signal chain too much, and has a noticeably negative effect on the tone.
 
It has a row of several LEDs to indicate the amount of compression, however the ratio is so low that the meter is a bit silly--it lights up a lot even though the effect is very subtle.
 
Aside from the jacks, the construction quality of the orange one was decent, good for the price. The housing was the medium size of a Barber or Diamond. The footswitch of the one I tested was not "true bypass", but supposedly they changed to a 3PDT footswitch at some later time.
 
I have not tested the newer silver one. I have no idea how it sounds. I avoided buying one when they came out because it was $200, and ugly, and for that price you can get one of the more coveted "boutique" pedals. As time passed, I saw that almost nobody was buying this version, and it started showing up in the types of web stores that blow out soon-to-be-discontinued products. Indeed it wasn't too long before Aphex gave this pedal the axe. It might be great, who knows, and maybe one day I'll find a used one for cheap and try it out.
 
Price in USD: used $50-$130, and "new" (unsold inventory) can still be found for $160 to $200.
 
or on Amazon
 

 
 
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