Wren and Cuff Gold Comp: A special note here: Wren and Cuff objects to me writing this review, because I also sell my own compressor. Matt and I went back and forth about this, and were not able to come to an agreement.
This pedal is based on an OTA (Ross/Dynacomp type) design, using germanium transistors for a bit of extra coloration in the tone, and those transistors are the main selling point here. Germanium is associated with a "vintage" tone, although exactly what that means will depend on the specific circuit. In this case it is a very subtle distortion, giving a slightly ragged edge to your tone, and increasing the harmonic content. It has a bright, biting quality. It's not anywhere near as strong of a distortion as the Pigtronix Philosopher Germanium Gold can do, like a separate fuzz effect. This one is more of a tone flavorizer. The flavor has a rough quality, which would sound prettier through a tube amp, and with speaker rolloff.
Germ transistors are sensitive to temperature changes. I found this pedal sounded raspy and slightly glitchy when I first plugged it in (my workroom is cold), but the tone smoothed out noticeably after it had been on for a while. Some other germ pedals have been known to shut down when they get too hot, for example at a mid-summer gig in direct sun.
The controls include Compression, Volume, Attack, and Release, the same format as the Keeley 4-Knob. The knobs each offer a usefully wide range of control. The Comp knob goes from very subtle to heavily smashed. The action is exactly like most old-school guitar comp pedals. In the medium-to-strong half of the range you can expect the beginning of your note to be smushed down, and as the note decays the volume rises up, bringing a lot of background noise and buzz with it. This can be used as a cool effect, but those strong settings are not going to suit somebody who wants natural-sounding action or clean peak limiting. Fast attack and release times will result in a noticeable "pumping" effect when the compression is at a high setting. I got the best results for my own tastes with the Comp at around 9:00 and the Attack and Release both around 3:00. In that range the action was smooth and unobtrusive, and the light compression added some pleasant thickness and shine to the tone.
The highs and lows have a small bit of rolloff, not bad. The highs seems brighter and stronger due to the increased harmonics from the germ transistors. The lows seem tighter and more restrained due to the intensity of the compression at medium-to-high settings. So if the low end seems too rolled off for you, turn the Comp knob to a lower setting. The noise floor is a bit higher than average, and it gets more noticeable the higher you turn the Comp knob.
Compared to other "dirty" flavor-adding comps, personally I prefer the Fairfield, the Durham, and the Pigtronix PT Germ Gold (at a low gain setting). They just sound "nicer" to me, with the PPT Germ and the Durham being more smooth and sweet, and the Fairfield having a pleasing crunch. The "Warmth" knob of the FEA DE-CL gives a fatter, thicker effect than the W&C Gold. But sometimes nastier is what you want! The W&C might be better for cutting through a dense mix. I'd recommend this one if you want a raw edgy sound that would stack well with overdrives, and if you want to tighten up the low end.
The construction quality is very good. The housing is about the size of a Boss, a bit larger than a small MXR. There's no LED to indicate signal over threshold. It runs on Boss-standard 9V DC. The footswitch is "true bypass".
Price in USD: new $245, too soon to say what the used price will be.
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