Wampler Ego: Firstly I owe an apology to Wampler, and to my readers, for putting off reviewing this pedal for so long. The Ego Comp is based around the same OTA circuit as the Dynacomp, Keeley, Analogman, and about 90% of other "boutique" comp pedals, and I've made a lot of noise about how tired I am of reviewing those. But several readers have contacted me over the last couple of years to say that the Wampler was a step above, and honestly worth consideration, so here we are.
In fact it does not lose the low end the way most of its close relatives do, and it has a bit lower noise than them too. The low frequencies are actually boosted a bit, yet they get compressed strongly, so they will have a tightened up feel, not a fat bassy boom. It has a sweet tonal emphasis of the upper harmonics, heard especially in the high mids. It's not totally noiseless, but the noise floor is better than average.
Controls include Volume, Sustain, Attack, Tone, and Blend. Sustain here (as in most OTA's) is a feedback design that controls a boost over the threshold of the compression circuit. Higher sustain equals a lower threshold, but higher sustain also means the circuit is pushed harder for more color and character, less transparency. There is no LED to indicate signal over the threshold, so you just use your ears, and hope that the right level of response is available for your instrument and playing style.
The Attack knob has a decently wide range. Tone is a treble control only, with no effect on the rest of the frequency range. There are "V1" and "V2" versions of this pedal out there; as far as I have been able to determine, the ONLY difference is in the range of the Tone pot, because some people felt the first version was too bright sounding. And Blend is a mix of the compressed signal with your original uncompressed signal. This allows you to dial in a more subtle, natural sound, as well as bringing back some dynamics when using heavier compression for sustain.
It runs on standard Boss-type 9V DC. The construction quality is very nice, and the housing is about the size of a Boss (slightly larger than MXR). The footswitch is "true bypass".
For comparison, the Barber and the Biyang/GFS/Akai are larger and they offer less control. The Keeley doesn't have the blend function, and doesn't retain the low end nearly as well as the Wampler. I plan to do a direct A/B with the newest (April 2013) version of the Analogman CompROSSor as soon as possible. If you like the Dynacomp/Ross flavor of compression, I recommend the Wampler highly.
Price in USD: new $200, used $140 to $160
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