You may have heard people say the PWNZOR reminds them of the Diamond Bass comp. I can see that — to some degree. The PWNZOR does impart an inherent flavor to your tone but its not exactly like the Diamond. It's definitely a fat bigness which is a way to describe the Diamond too but the PWNZOR is a smoother bigness. The Diamond is a bit more edgy or raw sounding. Like the Diamond, the PWNZOR is one I would have no issue leaving on all the time. It is more versatile than the Diamond with independent attack and ratio controls in addition to input and volume. It is also more transparent, though still of the tone enhancing compressor variety. Switching between the PWNZOR and Diamond, you can easily tell when either is switched off. The PWNZOR just seems to alter the original tone less, though is still clearly imparting its own color.
I found the attack knob to have a wide range and you can easily tell that it is working as you rotate it. More counterclockwise is a faster attack, meaning the compressor is grabbing hold of attack quicker and applying compressor more quicker. I really liked the attack around 1:00.
The input knob controls the incoming signal in terms of how it is feeding the compressor. I had no issues with headroom with any of my basses. The input has a nice feel to it. In other words, you can influence how the compressor feels overall quite nicely as you make changes to the input.
The ratio at which the compression is applied is controlled by the ratio knob. Ratio increases as you turn it counterclockwise and can get pretty squashy up past 2:00. I quite liked it around 11:00. The amount of ratio control is very nice and should be plenty for most people.
There is plenty of gain on tap which is controlled by the gain knob.
There are three controls inside. Since I borrowed this compressor from a fellow Talkbass member I didn't want to open it up. Per the instruction manual the first is to switch between buffered or true bypass. Nice feature there. The second is for release which allows you to control the release time. Slower release is counterclockwise. The third is an input gain which allows you to further tweak the input gain for very hot instruments. I'd prefer an exterior release control.
Here's the manual:
The pedal has one LED that lights green to let you know it is on and then as signal crosses the threshold, it flashes red. Somewhat useful, but doesn't work as well as the Diamond LED. The Smoothie has independent "on" pink LED and separate compression LED. But at least the PWZOR LED tells communicate to you that it is working.
The Vintage switch is supposed to provide a smoother more "vintage-like" tone in the up position and a more punchy, affected tone in the down position. To my ear, the up position is the fuller of the two. Both positions are "punchy", but up seems to have more volume and overall fullness. I personally prefered the switch in the up "vintage" position.
The PWNZOR has a nice deep tone to it. I'd say it is more of a tone enhancer than a versatile compressor but what it does, it does well in my opinion. It is low noise. I see it in the same general tonal space as the Diamond (though a bit smoother than the Diamond) and Doc Lloyd Photon. The Photon is probably a bit bigger in the low end, but not by much.
It is one of those compressors that feels great too while playing — makes it feel easier to play.
The enclosure looks pretty cool and is well made. Top mounted jacks for tight pedalboard placement. It runs on 9 volt power and is boosted internally to 18 volts. Headroom is not an issue. Footswitch is the quiet clickless type.
The PWNZOR is no longer in production and is pretty hard to come by. If you find one, it is worth trying. It has a great sound. I'm bummed I have to send it back.
Update: more detail on the interior pots and switch here on TalkBass.com.
Retail Price: currently unavailable (find used) 3LeafAudio.com