1 Proteus 1 month ago Out of the various families of compressor pedal technology (OTA, VCA, FET, optical, and tube), the latter carry the most mystique - because, after all, as guitarists, it's religious dogma that tubes are magical. All the types have their characteristic behavior, and you can find both better-known and endless me-too examples across all price ranges in each type. And - with a few notable exceptions - in each category, as prices rise so do performance characteristics and sound quality.But it might be safe to say that good-to-wonderful OTA, VCA, FET, and even optical compressors can be had at better prices than good tube compressors. (Which are almost always optical with tube output stages.)This has been a roundabout way of saying that when I've tried tube compressors in the past, they've either been OMG-I'm-in-love (and expensive) studio boxes (and I haven't owned them) - or cheapies at the low end of the price spectrum. And...OMG-I-didn't-love-them.I've been on a premium compressor tear for the last few years, wanting to try for myself the best I could talk myself into affording of the various types - and, as it happens, in most of the other types, the more you spend, the more knobs you get. Most pedal-pushers like knobs. (An instinct that co-exists in me with a simultaneous and fundamental understanding that some of the best equipment is the simplest, and has the fewest knobs, and the magic of it is that you don't need more knobs because the stuff just works.)Anyway, tube compressors tend not to have as many knobs, so I've put off spending for an upscale model because...well, sometimes the knob-count mentality wins.* (See footnote on KCM.) But I recently took delivery of the Effectrode PC-2A, a kind of pedal-sized reincarnation of the prized Urei LA-2A studio compressor of the Golden Age. Two knobs, one toggle switch. So how do I like it?I hooked it up for the first time last night and promptly spent about four hours with two guitars. That thing it does, it does with full marvel, there are no bad settings, and it's safe to say it's inspiring to play through.But I have many nice compressors, and I'm prone to exuberant honeymooning with new gear, so I won't say something like "best ever."What seems to be magic about it is that with two knobs (so you don't get many parameters to tweak - or screw up your tone with), it still manages to be uncannily adaptive to signal. I understand the nature of a tube compressor of this design is that with choppy, staccato playing it releases quickly enough not to pump - and with more continuous input, its release is long and gradual, with a kind of knee-shape slope. The result is that no matter what you play, you get a consistent envelope.So it has this character, but it responds to the player. It's not in your face, but what it does enhances and shapes in a gratifying way. Ear candy for sure.A compressor sits near the beginning of my signal chain (a few devices that work best when getting the raw output of the guitar precede it), and the compressor space on my main board is big enough to accommodate any of the comps I have. That way I can easily swap in different options for variety.The Effectrode will likely hold pride of place there for at least awhile - until I get curious about one of the others again. On Knob count mentality. I recently bought a pedal that should help cure me of this for good. It's a micro-mini wacky (meaning it doesn't intend to produce any natural spaces) digital reverb, from China, and the little bastid is bristling with six mini knobs, one of which selects from eight different modes (lighting up in a different color for each mode); plus three mini-toggles. When I divide the control count into the price of the pedal, it has a very impressive CPK (Cost Per Knob) ratio.The pedal, however, doesn't make any sound I can use. It's harsh and flat and ... arbitrarily wacky.It's a good thing there are players who consider these properties positive virtues; I'll probably be able to Reverb it away.