Extensive compressor reviews and FAQ

OVNIFX Smoothie: This new pedal was designed by the former engineer of EXAR, based on input and requests from me. So it is in my name, but it is not my creation exactly--more of a collaborative effort to shape his design with the features and qualities that I knew my readers would appreciate. Of course since I am the one selling the pedal, you will be reasonably skeptical about me reviewing it; but I assure you that my intention is to be every bit as honest and critical of my own goods as I am of every other pedal I review.
 
The circuit is based around the same CA3080 chip as the Ross/Dynacomp types, and yes I am aware of the humor in this choice, considering how vocally I have put down that circuit type on many other occasions. However this one is designed to have much flatter, wider frequency response than the rest of the crowd, with better response to low-frequency peaks. It does not lose the highs or lows at all, and there are no weird humps or scoops in the mids. The noise floor is quite low, equal to most other good-quality pedals in its price range, but not quite as noiseless as the FEA's.
 
The Tone knob controls a tilting EQ very much like the one in the Diamond. Turning to the left boosts lows and cuts highs, while turning to the right cuts lows and boosts highs. There's a tremendous amount of bass on tap. Setting it around 10:00-11:00 gives a huge fat warm tone. The EQ is pre blend, so it affects only the compressed signal. Note that the comp signal can be set with much higher gain than the dry/direct signal, so depending on your settings the EQ can seem like it oversteps on the dry signal, but it does not.
 
The Comp Vol knob controls the output volume of the comp effect, and the Direct knob controls the output volume of the dry uncompressed signal. If you want a 50/50 blend of wet and dry, set the two knobs to the same setting; however the result is dependent on both the Sust knob and the Tone knob, since they affect the peak levels of the compressed signal path.
 
The Sust knob controls gain going into the circuit, and it affects both the threshold and the ratio at the same time. It tends toward stronger squeezing, a higher ratio, for extra thickness and sustain. There is an LED that indicates the intensity of the compression being applied. I always recommend buying a pedal with some kind of visual metering in order to help dial in the perfect response, and it surprises me how many of the popular pedals on the market fail to include this feature.
 
There's also a toggle switch, marked 0dB and -20dB, to help tame high-output instruments. It does not pad the audio signal directly, it pads the sensitivity of the comp circuit, so flipping it will not change your volume.
 
The knob labeled Attack actually controls both attack and release times. The attack time range is fairly narrow and fast, a usable but honestly rather subtle range of adjustment; while the release time is variable across a very wide range. Clockwise settings are more percussive, counterclockwise settings are more smooth.
 
It runs on standard Boss-type 9V DC, and there's a battery door in the bottom plate. The construction quality is excellent, and the housing is the small MXR size. The footswitch is a relay-based true bypass with a noiseless switch.
 
One way of describing the Smoothie is you take the tone, action, and blend of the Wampler, add the tilting EQ of the Diamond, plus a threshold indicator light and an input pad, and put them in the smaller package of the Keeley or Demeter. It might not be a game changer, but I think it's a better-featured value all around, and that's why I put my name on it.
 
Price in USD: new $199, used $150 to $170.
 
Find the OVNIFX Smoothie only on OVNIFX.com
 

 
 
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