Extensive compressor reviews and FAQ

EHX "XO" White Finger: Recently EHX started putting their older fx into smaller diecast aluminum housings instead of the big old bent-steel boxes. Most of the attention goes to the much smaller "Nano" pedals, but in this case I am looking at the medium-sized XO version of the White Finger. It is certainly smaller than the steel-box original, but still pretty big--about the size of two regular Boss pedals side by side. It seems more solidly-built than the older ones.
 
My review of the old version basically says "great compression, terrible noise". The short story here is that they did manage to lower the noise levels with this version. It's not particularly quiet, but it is within a decent range, about par for most other pedals. That's in the "lamp" mode, though--the "LED" mode can be noisier. The good and bad thing about the White Finger is that it has so many ways it can be adjusted. "Good" because it allows you to dial in exactly the flavor of squish that you want, from clean to funky; but "bad" because some of the range of adjustments will increase the noise floor, so you'll have to find a balance between tweaking for good tone and tweaking for acceptable noise.
 
Another thing I should note is that people seem to have polar opposite experiences with the "Finger" pedals. Either they get no noise, but also no fatness in the tone; or they get plenty of fat tone, but too much noise. I honestly don't know what to attribute this to: newer vs. older production, or unpredictable quality control, or interaction with the rest of the gear and wiring that different musicians are using, or what. I suspect it's the sketchy quality control, because that's a problem EHX has been known for in the past. For what it's worth, this XO Finger is not so polar. It is reasonably fat sounding, and has reasonably tolerable noise.
 
The controls include pre Gain and Sensitivity, both of which help to dial in the best response for your particular instrument and playing style. The "Squash" and Lamp/LED controls further tailor the action. At the moment my favorite setting is: Squash on, Lamp, Sensitivity 1:30, Compress 1:30, and pre/post gain as needed. I would describe the character of the compression as more on the funky, squishy, colorful side; but it's not extreme, and it can be dialed for more subtle action as well.
 
Do I recommend this pedal? Yes. It works great and sounds great. It does have significant limitations, though. It can be tricky to dial in; it's big; it requires a special wall wart power supply (will not work with any of the brick or daisy chain type supplies); and it's not "noiseless". However it is inexpensive, and you get a lot of performance and versatility for your money. The footswitch is "true bypass".
 
Price in USD: $146 new, $50-$100 used
 
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