Xotic SP: This is another Ross/Dynacomp variation, however it is in the micro size (Hammond 1590A) so there's a lot of demand and interest in it.
The tone is very clear and clean. It has the classic frequency response you expect from a Dynacomp type, stronger in the mids and high mids. It also has a steep rolloff on the low end, however in this case the cut is mostly below the frequencies a bassist needs. So it will work fine on bass for most people. The stronger the compression, the tighter the lows will sound.
The controls include Volume and Blend knobs, a three-position toggle for the strength of the compression, and four internal DIP switches. The Blend knob is the key to getting the most natural tone and action from this pedal, allowing some of your original dynamics and sound alongside the compressed signal. The toggle does what it says, and the three settings cover a wide range from very light to very smashed compression. This doesn't give you much nuance of control obviously, but with a pedal this size they had to compromise somewhere. As with all other comps with limited controls, the results you get will depend HUGELY on the strength of the signal you feed it, and how you play.
Two of the internal switches control the attack and release time together, meaning it's not that one switch is for attack and the other release, but rather that both times change depending on how you set the two switches. Again it's not the greatest method of setting attack and release, but it's better than not having any control over them. The third switch adds in an extra capacitor to cut more highs; this is fairly subtle. The fourth switch pads the input to reduce clipping from very high-output instruments. They say in the instructions that the pad also acts as a low cut, but I didn't find that to be noticeable or measurable.
The compression action is smooth and typical of this family of comp. It is best suited to giving you more evenness and sustain, and helping you pop in the mix, and it makes a great boost. It's really not for peak limiting. The noise level is also comparable to the other boutique Ross types, reasonably quiet, though they do amplify existing noise from your signal chain more than some other types of comp circuit.
The contruction quality is quite good. It runs off standard Boss-type 9V DC, and surprisingly it even has room for a battery in the tiny box! The footswitch is "true bypass".
Overall this pedal is good, not amazing; there are other pedals I recommend much more highly for tone, control, versatility, and so forth. But if you want something really tiny, this one is currently the best buy in that size, that you can find in stores, for a clean basic sound.
Price in USD: new $132, used $90-$115
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