Frantone Sandwich: This optical comp pedal is a real treat, I like it a lot. Unfortunately Frantone went out of business a few years ago, so the Sandwich is very hard to find, and when you do find one the price will be high.
It is very visually attractive, and fortunately the sound quality is equal to the appearance.The tone is fat and warm, with a nice brightness and clarity to the highs. The lows are not rolled off, however I did find there were some heavier compression settings where the lows would dip below unity, making them sound weak. But at other settings there was no problem with the low end. The action is syrupy and smoothing, while adding a lot of sustain.
I feel like this pedal incorporates the best tone and action qualities of the Ross and Orange Squeezer clones, but with better low end. Aside from the lows, one big benefit of the Sandwich over those others is it has a threshold control, making it easier to match with a wider range of instrument output levels. The indicator LED only shows time over the threshold, it doesn't seem to indicate the amount of gain reduction.
The noise level is equal to the Ross and O.S.; one thing about that though is the release time on the compression is very, very slow, which means the noise level will stay low while you're playing, and only become apparent when resting between notes. The down side to that slow release time is the attack of each note will be affected by the envelope level of the note preceding it, so each attack can be a bit quirky.
The action is all about smoothing and sustain, it's not so great at peak limiting (even at max settings) or adding punch, so it's not recommended for slappers or aggro players. The ratio can be quite high, but the knee is both soft and slow to respond, so it takes time to ramp up from lower ratios to higher ones. That means it can apply heavy compression, but it can't react quickly enough to regulate sudden big dynamic spikes. While it does lean to the "compression as an effect" end of the spectrum, it can also be dialed for a more clear or natural quality.
The construction quality is very nice. It's in the standard mdium-sized housing and runs on standard 9V DC. The footswitch is "true bypass".
Price in USD: $250-$350 used, no longer available new.
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