This is a review of the MK-2, which is the newer and smaller optical pedal design from this boutique Polish pedal maker. There was a more budget Black Line model that appears to have been discontinued and the larger Silver Line still in production.
The MK-2 has the same Level, Comp, Range, and Punch knobs as the Black Line and Silver Line. However, the MK-2 has a switch to change the character of the compression between solid state and Tube like. More on this later.
The build quality seems very good with solid metal housing. The knobs turn with authority and the switch has a solid feel and is true bypass. The LED lights green when powered and flashes various shades of red as gain is reduced (signal over threshold). The LED functions almost exactly like the LED on the Diamond.
The Level controls the output of the compressor pedal. All the way counter clockwise is original signal level.
The Compress knob controls the compression ratio level. The manual does not define the ratio range but it is pretty wide. Capable of pretty good squish on the high end and very nice and subtle on the lower end.
Punch essentially controls the attack level. All the way counter clockwise is called "sharp" which is the slowest attack allowing more initial transient in. All the way clockwise is called "soft" which is the fastest attack clamping on the initial transient harder. I found the range quite useful all the way across knob twist.
The Range knob is interesting. Per the manual it controls the band threshold. In other words, it adjusts the frequency range at which your signal triggers the compressor. To my ear it functions a lot like the filter control on the XTS Fermata. Higher (more clockwise) settings trigger the compressor at a wider range, more clockwise opens up the compressor and squishes the highs and mid range less. The more rotation counter clockwise the more articulate the tone becomes. It works very well.
The Punch and Range knobs are highly interactive so you can dial in a pretty vast variety of compression sounds and feel. The MK-2 really juices up the sound considerably. It covers a wide variety of compression types from subtle to more rubbery vintage type limiting. You can dial in super punchy, fast, articulation or pretty even and even squashy. It is quite versatile and pretty quiet unless you dial in more dramatic effect.
To my ear the MK-2 is pretty neutral or transparent. Highs and lows are consistent.
I wouldn't say it brings a huge level of "fatness" but that Range knob really allows you to dial in a real punchy, lively, and "wider" sound. Really, really nice actually.
I really like the Character switch. Solid is a little more open sounding with a more modern punch. When you flip to Tube you can hear the pedal allow a little more harmonic content through. A little more wooly and vintage sounding. This makes an already versatile compressor even more so. The difference between the two settings might seem subtle at first, but you quickly realize the compressor knob interacts differently in Tube mode and so does the Punch dial. Previous Tux models had a compressor/limiter switch. I think I would much prefer this Character switch. You can still dial in the MK-2 as more of a limiter with the Punch and Comp knob.
The Tux MK-2 runs on 9 - 12 volt and has an internal voltage converter that adjusts the voltage from 9 volt to 18 volt or 12 volt to 24 volt for plenty of headroom. I had absolutely no issue with any of my basses. The Tux also automatically switches to "bypass mode" in case of disconnection or low voltage. Nice feature for protecting from loss of signal. Top mounted power and input/output jacks.
While the Tux is larger than some other compressors, it still is pedal board capable though a bit tall. It's about the same height as the Cali76 CB.
This one really surprised me. It is inherently transparent but can be super punchy and does add that special something in a more dramatic way than say the Empress or Keeley which are considered to be transparent compressors.
If you are looking for something a little off the beaten path that is still pretty transparent with some unique features this is a nice package all the way around.
Retail price: $167