Here we have an interesting compressor — certainly one of the most unique I've tested to date. For one, it is both a compressor and preamp with individual Bass and Treble control. Secondly, it has an independent foot switch to activate a boost control. Thirdly, Okko claims it is capable of working in the reverse of a compressor by amplifying quieter notes.
Ok let's dive in.
The Okko Cocaine is hand made in Germany. The enclosure has a very cool almost spackled paint looking finish. The paint job has a lot of dimension and is definitely unique in the pedal world. I've never seen a paint job on a pedal quite like this. In some ways it resembles the finish on the Walrus Deep Six but it is smoother. At the same time, it has a subdued posh look to it. It won't pop off your pedal board but it looks classy.
The pedal runs off a 9 volt battery or typical Boss type center negative 9 volt power supply. It features an internal voltage doubling circuit for more headroom. There is plenty of headroom on tap. I played through it with 5 different basses with never a hint of distortion. It is also very quiet. Not quite FEA level quiet, but very quiet in all but extreme settings.
There is no indicator light to show when your signal is over the threshold.
Instead of Attack/Release/Threshold controls the compressor is controlled by just the Sustain and Squash knobs. The SUSTAIN knob, according to Okko, works like an "upward" compressor – leaving the attack and strong notes unchanged while amplifying quieter notes and subtleties of your playing and increasing the sustain. Surprisingly, that is what it seems to do. It does seem to bring up quieter notes. Hard to describe but it has a great dynamic feel to it. Almost like it is taking all of your playing into consideration and just bumping it up both in feel and sound. When turned all the way up, it does feel somewhat choked and a little extreme. 1:00 or lower (more counter clockwise) was plenty for my taste. It's got that dip and swell thing going on when you turn the knob to 4:00 or higher.
The SQUASH knob, according to Okko, goes from subtle tone-enhancing to a more pronounced compression effect, but preserve the attack of your instrument and keep its character even at full tilt. I'm not totally aligned with that statement though I can appreciate the spirit of it. At full tilt, to my ear anyway, the pedal starts feeling artificial but certainly useable. It isn't a heavy squash like many compressors so this isn't a huge criticism.
This thing has a great feel to it and the SUSTAIN and SQUASH are highly interactive.
There are all kinds of sweet spots to be found. My personal favorite is with SUSTAIN at about 10:00 - 11:00 and SQUASH at about 2:30 - 3:00. Real nice big, clear, and punchy tone. Another sweet spot is SUSTAIN at about 3:00 and SQUASH around 10:00 which brings out the amplified quieter notes more but keeping a decent squash on them.
If you have ever heard of the Okko Coco Comp the SING control is essentially the SUSTAIN control on the Cocaine. The PUSH control is the Volume control on the Cocaine.
The compressor is very transparent and very clear. But don't take that to mean boring. It is not at all. It takes your existing tone and makes it better.
It's like the anti colored compressor to color your tone. Yes, read that again.
It doesn't color your tone like the Diamond or Mad Professor Forest Green or Eventide or SolidGoldFX Horizon as examples but it is definitely doing something good for your tone that you will most certainly notice when you turn it off.
I would not suggest it as a limiter. It's not going to shine for that purpose. It will add sustain (if you want it too).
There is plenty of gain on tap with the VOLUME control used to achieve unity or way beyond.
The lower right foot switch activates the compressor and there is a white LED that lights when activated.
OK, there's more. That's just the compressor detail.
The Cocaine is also a preamp type pedal with independent BASS and TREBLE controls that effect the comp circuit. There is a ton of range in both controls. The pedal is capable of producing huge additions of bass for a huge bottom end pillow type effect. There is more treble on hand than I personally ever need. The cut is also very effective. If you have ever desired a compressor that spices things up by compressing your signal but literally dial in as much bottom end as you could ever want and adding back some glassy top end, this is it. To be clear, the EQ section is not like a high/low pass filter controlling which frequencies the device is going to compress. No, you are EQing the outgoing compressed circuit.
There is no independent control for the EQ section. Noon is pretty neutral sounding for both dials.
If that weren't enough, there is still a unique BOOST control activated by the second foot switch. It too is quite unique in that it provides 15db of full range linear boost when turned all the way to the right.
But turned counter clockwise it activates a mid boost. Noon is approximately neutral (and unity gain). I didn't find the mid boost side all that useful with bass though your mileage may vary. The boost circuit is independent of the compressor and can be activated on its own separate from the compressor. When the effect is not on, the boost may still be used. When the effect is on, the boost is post effect meaning it is boosting the compressed EQ'd signal.
The Boost circuit has a blue LED that illuminates when active.
So you essentially have a compressor, EQ, and boost in one pedal. You could get away with this pedal alone into a direct box. In that sense it is extremely versatile.
If you want something quite transparent, very open sounding, with some tone magic, albeit a little quirky you should check out this pedal.
You need to think of it differently than a typical compressor though and allow yourself to experiment with the different positions and interactions between the Sustain and Squash knobs and then dial in more Bass and Treble to taste. You need to experiment and find your sweet spots. Then when you want to pop out even more, well tap the Boost switch and bam, there you are. The Okko Cocaine would not be my first choice as a subtle compressor to even out string dynamics and definitely not as a limiter.
Both foot switches are true bypass. Input/output jacks are on the left and right sides with power input on the top. Construction quality is very good. It's about the size of the original Diamond compressor.
I'm not a big fan of the name "Cocaine" but I must admit, playing with this pedal is addicting. It really is.
Retail price: Approximately $243 USD