First off, the Refinery comes in very impressive packaging. Upon opening the bright red box you will find the pedal blanketed in an attractive snap enclosure felt bag. Very nice.
Other box candy includes a Foxpedal sticker, picks, and pin.
The pedal itself is very attractive. Nice paint job and soft touch stomp switch. LED lights red indicating the pedal is engaged. There is no threshold meter. Top mounted jacks and 9 volt standard center negative power.
The attack knob defines how long it takes for the compressor to kick in. All the way clockwise offers the slowest attack — allowing the most time before the compressor clamps down. All the way counter clockwise is faster attack.
The release knob defines how long it takes for the compressor to release the compressed signal. All the way counter clockwise provides the shortest amount of time before the compressor recovers. All the way clockwise offers longer recovery.
I found both ranges quite useful, though pretty subtle. But that is what could be said about this pedal in general. It is pretty transparent and subtle.
The ratio knob determines how much compression is applied (how much the gain is reduced). I don't know the range, but I've inquired of Foxpedal and will plan to update this posting when I hear back. It seems to be a fairly wide range. At this highest settings (clockwise) there is a fair amount of squishing but it somehow remains pretty transparent. This is especially true when you blend in more of your dry signal.
Speaking of blending in more of your bass, the blend know provides a fair amount of control. The more clockwise, the more wet effect and also the louder the output. You will need more level control if you bring in more dry signal.
The level knob controls the amount of added volume to bring your signal back to unity or provide boost above unity. The Refinery does not have as much boost on hand as many (possibly most) compressors. Again, it is more subtle. The ratio and blend controls very much influence how much level control you will have. The higher the ratio and the more wet signal added, the more gain there is on tap. With a fairly low ratio (like 10:00 or more counter clockwise) and more dry signal applied (like 11:00 or more counter clockwise) I noticed that I needed to have the level at at least 2:00 or more clockwise.
The bright switch is probably most valuable for guitarists. With bass, it adds a subtle sheen to the high end. It is subtle but with a good ear, noticeable. I doubt you'd ever notice playing live but with earphones you get a nice openness finger style with the bright switch flipped up.
But how does it sound? Well, in short, refined.
The Refinery is not the quietest of compressors but not the nosiest either.
There is more white noise than the Smoothie, or FEA Optifet, or Diamond, or Empress for example. But less than the Bogner Lyndhurst for sure. I was able to add some nice punch to my tone in a transparent and neutral sort of way. There is more pumping going on at higher ratios but not nearly to the degree of the Bogner. There isn't much in the way of low end boost, it just stays, well pretty neutral. This could be a nice compressor for somebody who wants a compressor that stays out of the way and just evens things out. You don't really notice anything until you turn it off. I suspect many will really like this quality. At first I felt like it was just too bland, but then when comparing it to the Cali, Smoothie, Diamond, Pulp 'N' Peel, Bogner, etc. you can hear its refined and natural feel. It is somehow punchy without adding color. Reminds me of a simpler (and smaller) Empress in that way.
You get a little more "big" to your tone and a little more evening out in an unobtrusive way.
Foxpedal told me they are marketing the Refinery towards guitarists but it has merits on bass. I'd love to see them produce one without the bright switch and maybe a 3-way eq instead. Or even better, a tilt EQ. To my ear, the Foxpedal Refinery makes the low end tighter. I don't think it looses much low end. It isn't the compressor for you if you want big bottom though.
But if you want a full spectrum compressor that evens out your playing in a neutral sort of way, this is a viable contender.
It was nice of Foxpedal to also send me one of their Killface OD pedals which is catered to bass. Here's some thoughts on the Killface OD.
Retail Price: $199