Retro-Sonic Vintage Vibes: This is a boutique clone of the old grey Ross compressor, famous for its use by jam-soloing guitarists, much like the Keeley and Analogman CompROSSor. I reviewed it several years ago; they have released a "version 2" since then, but I think the only difference is they added a switch to toggle between bright and dark tones.
The Ross is noted for its sustain, and this guy does indeed sustain nicely. The noise floor is a little higher than I'd like, but the swell of the noise floor as the sustained note trails off is not so obtrusive, a bit better than average.
The attack of the compression is fairly slow, and not adjustable; because of this, strong initial spikes from your playing can peak your amp or other gear before the compression kicks in, especially at higher compression settings. There is a switch for three different release rates to work with different playing styles. If you set the release rate slow, and then play a string of notes, the peak of the first note will spike loudly and the rest of the notes will be kept under control. This may work great with a tube amp for distorted guitar, but doesn't sound so good with bass and a solid-state amp. The only work-around for this is to use the lower compression settings, so the initial output level is closer to the uncompressed instrument level. That way, there is not much peaking, and the compression is gentle and smooth.
The tone of this unit is actually quite sweet, it seems to fatten up the highs and high-mids, so this is a great comp for people who solo, especially fretless, in the upper registers. The lows, unfortunately, are a bit rolled-off; not so much that you couldn't use it for bass, but it does lack oomph on the lowest notes.
The construction quality is good, and the housing is the small MXR size. It runs on standard 9V DC and the footswitch is "true bypass".
Price in USD: new $199, used $90 to $120
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