When you hear the words "boutique guitar pedal" it is likely Analogman comes to mind. No doubt Mike Piera, a.k.a. Analog Man, is known for his boutique shop and pedal circuit designs, often with a vintage flair. In this review we take a look at the Analogman Bi-CompROSSor which is essentially two compressor circuits in one enclosure — Mike's take on the famous Ross compressor and Dan Armstrong Orange Squeezer compressor. Each one of these circuits can be used independently or combined together via dual foot switches.
There is plenty of information on the Internet about the legacy and design of both the Ross and Orange Squeezer compression engines so we won't go into that here.
To my ear, it seems both compressors were designed to retain the inherent tone and squashy feel of both the Ross and Orange Squeezer originals. There is no added transparency or effort to make these designs less "effect like". Purists will consider that a good thing. If you are looking for uber transparency compression, well, look elsewhere.
The left foot switch activates the Ross compressor. A red LED illuminates. Once enabled there are 4 dials that affect the Ross circuit. Attack: The standard setting is with this dial at noon which mimics the vintage Ross pedal. There is a notch at this position which is nice. Turning the dial counter clockwise adds more squish by making the attack time faster. Turning the dial clockwise slows the attack allowing more transients through and helps make playing feel and sound more percussive. The attack control definitely feels interactive with the Sustain dial. In other words, as you increase the sustain, you realize the attack and sustain controls are quite interactive.
Sustain: Turning up the Sustain knob sets the amount of compression (and sustain). Essentially, this means that the more your rotate the dial clockwise the more swell you will hear and feel and the more the attack will be compressed. Mix: Rotating more counter clockwise brings in more dry or non-compressed signal. The Analogman information sheet says turning the dial all the way clockwise is standard Ross compression. Definitely rotate the dial more counter clockwise if you want to minimize the squish. Volume: The dial marked VOL on the left is the control that sets the volume for the Ross circuit. I did note that volume gets considerable louder when the sustain and attack knobs are rotated more to the right. You will need the Volume knob to compensate for sure. There is also a three-way switch for the Ross circuit (and Orange Squeezer circuit) which was added to later revisions of the Bi-CompROSSor. Analogman calls it the "Ryck Mod" because it somewhat mimics the Rickenbacker guitar "jangle" sound. By design, the Ross compressor engine is quite dark. The three-way switch is there to bring in more brightness with a treble boost. One position is the standard Ross value and then you get two additional levels of treble boost. It is important to note that you introduce more noise into the circuit when you boost treble. The treble boost only affects the wet compressed signal. The options definitely come in handy with guitar allowing for a more jangly sound that really pops. With bass guitar, it helps liven up what is otherwise a quite dark sound.
You really need to experiment with all of the controls on the Ross circuit because they are highly interactive.
To my ear, there is loss of lows and of course it is an inherently dark design. I hear most activity in the mids. There is definitely sustain for days. Inside the pedal is a trim pot labeled ROSS BIAS 2K which allows you to adjust the intensity of squash. The Analogman compressor information sheet suggests leaving the dial at the halfway point (horizontal) but it is there to experiment with. I did and it definitely changes the feel but ended up putting it back to the horizontal position.
I love the Ross circuit with guitar for that high sustain and jangly tone. With bass, there is too much low end lost and it is overly "effecty".
Conversely, the Orange Squeezer compressor side doesn't cut lows much at all. Lows are more thick and concentrated but the design clamps down on the lows strongly. So while the lows are all there, they seem less big and more focused. In my opinion, this circuit can work well for bass assuming you like the fact that the compressor is clamping down aggressively on the lows. In other words, rich and warm but reigned in. The Ross engine is more subtle in how it clamps down where the Orange Squeezer is very much more aggressive in its approach to compression of the lows.
The Volume knob on the Orange Squeezer side is there for more volume if desired. There are no controls for attack or mix, etc. on the Orange Squeezer. side.
The three-way switch is a high cut toggle for normal, dark, and very dark. I found normal to be my preferred setting for both guitar and bass.
There is an internal trim pot for the Orange Squeezer circuit too. The Analogman instruction sheet calls attention to the fact that this control is "tricky". With that in mind, I marked the default setting before experimenting. Turning the dial more clockwise brings in more squash on the attack. It's pretty subtle and ultimately I found myself liking the default setting best. The right foot switch activates the Orange Squeezer compression engine. A yellow LED will illuminate. Activating both foot switches allows for both compression engines to be active in series with the Orange Squeezer side first. Overall, the noise floor is decent. It is not the most quiet compression device out there but it isn't overly noisy either. I have read other reviews indicating the Orange Squeezer side in particular was very noisy but I did not find that to be true with my unit.
If you want two classic compressor designs in one package this is the one.
Both compression engines are true to the legacy of the originals but with some refinements make the experience more polished. Notably in the noise department.
Running both engines together in series creates some serious smooth and warm tones. This one one of those devices that I think every guitarists should give a spin. At the end of the day it might not be for you but its a great way to experience two classic compressor designs in a quality package. With bass guitar, its a mixed bag for me. Generally, like having control of attack and mix with bass guitar. While the Ross compressor offers both, the attenuation of lows is too much for me with bass guitar. The Orange Squeezer side is fun though.
Build quality is excellent. Dials all turn with authority and nice resistance. The compressor can be run off an internal 9 volt battery or 9volt DC adapter. It is true bypass on both effects. Input and output jacks are top mounted as is the post input.
If you want transparency, look elsewhere.
If you want maximum squish and plenty of clean boost in a pedalboard friendly package, look closely at the Analogman Bi-CompROSSor. Pros: • Fun "effecty" type compressor • Two compression engines in one pedal • Quality • True to legacy of both Ross and Orange Squeezer designs • Squish and sustain • Can run on 9 volt battery Cons: • Maybe too "effecty" for some • Probably not the first choice for bassists • Look elsewhere for transparency Retail price: $285 BuyAnalogMan.com View all compressor reviews