Maxon RCP660 (Ibanez Tube King): This is a tube comp pedal with the usual arrangement of a solid-state compression circuit and a tube gain stage. It is larger than the T-Rex Squeezer, but smaller than the Markbass Compressore. It runs on a standard Boss-type 9VDC supply, which is both a blessing and a curse: the good part is that it's easy to use with normal pedalboard power supplies; the bad part is that a tube really needs higher voltage to operate cleanly. As a result, this pedal can get noisy. Oddly, the noise increases with a little "whoosh" when your signal crosses the threshold, and then drops back down as the compression releases. The "Sustain" knob appears to control a gain boost going into a fixed threshold, so increasing the sustain does increase the noise; but even low sustain settings will have some noise, since you then have to turn up the Master Volume to get back to unity gain. The ratio is fixed at 3:1, good for general smoothing and fattening, but not for peak limiting at all.
A few things about this pedal are backwards. The in and out jacks are reversed from the normal order. The Sensitivity control is just a volume knob that turns down the input level, going counterclockwise, so its "maximum" setting is just your normal unchanged signal level. And the Attack knob goes clockwise from fast to slow.
The good news: The tone of this pedal is actually quite sweet. Very tubey and energetic, with nice bright highs. The lows get attenuated a bit, but not too badly--it just sounds "tightened up". As long as I ignored the noise, I really liked the positive effect this unit had on my instrument's tone. Also, the pedal features a separate boost footswitch, and the boost sounds really good too. The boost is fixed at about 13 dB gain. Unfortunately the compression has to be engaged in order to select the boost, but this will be fine for people who leave the compressor always on.
The construction quality is decent. The footswitch is not true bypass, but it is quite clean sounding. The tube is easy to access, once you've removed the 8 screws that attach the base plate.
Compared against the T-Rex Squeezer, the T-Rex is more transparent tonally, with fuller lows, and is smaller. But the RCP660 has more exciting colored tone, and uses a more convenient power supply. That weird extra whoosh while the unit is compressing a note is a deal-breaker for me. But if you can deal with that, and if you don't mind the backwards functions, then the tone is really good and worth trying out.
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