DOD FX84 Milkbox Compressor Review

OK. So this is a really great sounding compressor. It really is. Though not being made anymore, you can often still find one on the used market.

If you are lucky, you could find one in excellent condition for $75 - $85.

I was surprised by this white box. It has a full sound, is decently quiet, and no loss of highs or lows. It's great at adding sustain and an overall "bigness" to the sound.

To my ear, it is more transparent than say the Diamond or tube compressors but it isn't exactly neutral either. It adds a little something special.

It is certainly not as quiet as the likes of offerings from FEA or Empress for example, but I doubt most would complain.

There was more than one version produced. Mine is the newer model with pearlescent paint. Older models were painted with cow spots and had rather silly names for each of the knobs.

There are four controls:

Level controls the output level when the effect is on. There is plenty of gain on tap. This knob was called Quarts on older models.

Compress controls the amount of compression. This knob was called Cream on older models. I found I liked the compression knob set between 11:00 and 1:00. That was the sweet spot for me nice round, full smoothing but with nice dynamics.

Hi Exp controls the amount of high frequency expansion. Depending on how high you have this set, it essentially expands the high frequency content of your signal. The harder you play, the higher the frequency boost your signal gets. This knob was called Pasteurization on older models.

Attack controls the attack of the compressor. Turning more clockwise slows the attack, allowing more transient signal through. This knob was called Spill on older models. The range is great. I really liked the knob between noon and 3:00 for a nice smooth feel yet allowing enough bite to come through.

I really like how the Milkbox handles the low end because it doesn't ever feel overly squished (except when compression is set to more extreme settings which is to be expected).

In this sense, the compressor feels balanced across lows and highs. I don't like its more extreme settings though. While it is capable of dialing in a whole lot of squash, you get pretty big dip and swell effect at the extreme settings. Things can sound big, but the noise floor raises. It could be worse, but I'd recommend this compressor more for mild to moderate compression. For that, it is mighty tasty.

I really like the Hi Expression knob but only at noon or less. Between 10:00 and 11:00 or so, there is a nice "bite" added which makes the attack feel great. This Hi Expression knob is supposed to be an expansion circuit which means it works the opposite of compression by expanding the signal. To my ear, that is what it is doing. Dialed in between 9:00 and 11:00 it does seem to provide more dynamics and eliminates the attenuated highs effect that so many compressors suffer from.

Pretty much how you see the dials set in the pics are my preferred settings.

In summary, the Milkbox really surprised me and impressed me. It is a lot of fun and I've been using it live a lot lately. It's not a high end compressor and you can tell the foot switch is a weak spot in the design. The DOD Milkbox reminds me of the a cross between the likes of Doc Lloyd Photon, Diamond BCP-1/Bass Comp JR, Mad Professor Forest Green, and Markbass Compressore (review forthcoming). Compared to offerings from Empress, Keeley, Becos, or Strymon the Milkbox is less transparent. It is noticeably adding something to the tone. But compared to the Diamond BCP-1, for example the "tone magic" doesn't seem as extreme. The Milkbox has an inherent unrefined quality which I think many would find very pleasing because it just sounds good. Unlike some other reviews I've read, I quite like the Hi Expression control too.

High output basses can cause a bit of distortion.

The foot switch is not true bypass but it sounds fine to me turned off.

The LED lights red when powered on.

It does accept a 9-volt battery accessible through the plastic door on the front. This door is another weak spot in the design of the pedal.

The knobs themselves turn with authority. Side mounted jacks and power input. Runs off 9-volt center negative pin.

Retail price: Out of production