Which Aphex Punch Opto-Compressor is preferred?


Orange 1404 or Silver?

Proteus thought these were worthy and simple, but which one?


Orange. Only the orange!


I found an NOS. I shall report my on Auditory sensations from said device soon enough.


Arrived last night. Volume pot needed a bit of Contact Cleaner, other than that appears Brand New. It sat on a shelf somewhere for 15 years....


Interesting and subtle.

I tried the Jack Epi Bass first thinking the low E would be a good test for reducing flabby notes...definitely more stout with added punch.

EDIT: The Jack Bass has an impedance switch, it provides a similar effect...on to the Gretsch guitars.


One would figure this device would make up for pickups that don't have adjustable pole pieces, or strings with less than even tension.

This unit seems to like the Drive up quite a bit to get effect, bass notes in general see more compression, although both my Gretsch it's the treble.

It's a little mysterious, but does seem to tighten and balance things up overall.



Yet profound.

The PF is one of the smoothest and most unobtrusive comps I've used, and you do have to get the "Drive" level in the 7-10 range to make it really apparent. The Volume knob, as on most compressors, lets you boost the output to compensate for the loss of volume the compression function naturally causes. (And you can set it for more than unity gain, too.)

Almost all stompbox comps have a lot of compression parameters "preset" - designed into their circuitry, rather than available for user adjustment - and others combined under the control of the knob(s). Those decisions on the part of the engineer have everything to do with the character of the compression, the personality of the pedal, its perceived effect, and its ease of use.

A full compression feature set might let you independently set the threshold (the incoming signal level which triggers compression), attack time (in ms, how quickly the comp reacts), release time (in ms, how long it takes it to let go), and sometimes the slope of those actions ("knee" or "curve"). And on any comp with more than two knobs, you almost always get ratio, sometimes selectable between 2-3 or more discrete settings (2:1, 4:1, 10:1, etc) - and sometimes with a dial sweeping from 2:1 (or less) to infinity:1 (to provide hard limiting).

Then you might also get a blend or balance control to mix uncompressed signal in with the compressed, and occasionally EQ controls to shape the compressed tone - because, depending on the settings of the other parameters and the compression type, compression can change the tonal balance. (Frinstance, since bass frequencies have much more power, they can trigger compression "earlier" than the same signal with less bass might, causing the compressor to duck the whole spectrum, usually to the detriment of the highs. Thus EQ lets you add some highs back in.)

And THEN some let you control the EQ of the internal signal chain the compressor uses to determine when and how much to compress. This is more subtle - but if lows are forcing more comp than you want, you can dial the lows down in this sidechain so that the compressor doesn't react as much to them. (And you can do the same with every band of EQ the device has.)

So even in a "simple" (looking) compressor, the designer has had to make decisions about all these functions for you. Again, multiple parameters are often combined under the control of a single knob.

Also, some of the behaviors of a compressor come naturally with the technology employed (OTA, VCA, optical, etc) and are thus baked in. The behavior of optical circuits simply lends itself to smooth, "natural / transparent" compression - and many optical compressors end up with fewer knobs than other types.

That doesn't make them all equal. I've had a bunch of optical comps, but - other than the Joe Meek stereo in my rack - only the Punch Factory and the much more expensive Effectrode PC-2A remain.

The Effectrode is engineer Phil Taylor's tube-driven stompbox take on James Lawrence's Universal Audio / Teletronix / UREI LA-2A Leveling Amplifier, arguably the classic and definitive optical compressor, a studio standard for decades and heard (or, rather, not heard) on thousands of records, where it has shaped not only guitar and bass sounds but pretty much everything else as well.

The Punch Factory was never marketed as inspired by or based on the LA-2A, nor is it usually compared to the Effectrode PC-2A. It wasn't until I got a PC-2A, thought its behavior reminded me of the Punch Factory, and then compared them side-by-side that I really appreciated what a great compressor the PF is. As I've said in other posts, through the compression range that both pedals share, I can't distinguish between them. They seem to behave and sound the same.

This is a dramatic result, given that the Effectrode is 339.00 new (and routinely sells for 300.00 and up used) and requires its own unique power supply - while the Punch Factory is available at remaindered prices around or under 100.00, can be powered by pretty much anything from a 9v battery to 48v phantom power, is compatible with both active and passive instruments, and includes an XLR output to employ it as a direct box.

I mentioned the pedals' ranges of operation: the Effectrode has a hard-limiting mode the Punch Factory lacks, and can be dialed to impose more compression, seemingly with a steeper ratio. (But when you really want chicken-pickin' fast and obvious compression, you generally reach for an OTA comp like the ubiquitous Ross/DynaComp/EverythingElse, not an optical.)

One secret to the Punch Factory's "subtlety" and effortless smoothness is its low-to-moderate compression ratio, preset at 3.7:1.

This makes it not one of the most versatile compressors - in that it can't be adjusted for a wide range of ratios and behaviors - but it does make it a very universal compressor. It's a good candidate for a set-and-forget always-on tone conditioner that simply lifts, separates, smooths and rounds (like a good bra). It "composes" your tone for polish and punch - the kind of thing (like a Nocturne Brain) you might get used to and not notice - till you turn it off.

And then you turn it back on.

Good reading about the PF:


The bigger hollowbody guitars put off a different thing, especially the Super 400.

Almost makes me wonder if you can actually gauge how evenly a guitar resonates...or how well-constructed it is. The 400 puts off the same signal on every string.

I'm glad I don't have any more choices.

The ones with triggers and releases would put my mind into never-ending searches...


The ones with triggers and releases would put my mind into never-ending searches...

It's actually pretty easy to dial them in: you set the threshold and ratio so the box is compressing VERY obviously, then dial attack and release to settings that fit the application. And then you back threshold and ratio back down to where you want them.

But the Punch Factory is mighty easy.


Well, I've put some time into this...and with the entire herd in some way or fashion.

1) Great to tighten up the Electric Bass in the lowest of notes

2) Surprisingly good with the Acoustic Piezo/PickUp group with LR Baggs Para DI

3) I really like the 1959 Kay Barney K1700 Pro, that tone matches up well with the Punch effect...woody, deep, clear, distinctive

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