The Gold Comp has been on my list for quite a while and I'm pleased to finally have one in my possession. I had tried to contact the manufacturer multiple times via email using the address published to the website and also via social media requesting some detail about the design. Unfortunately, I never received a response.
What we do know is the Gold Comp is a based on an OTA design with germanium transistors. The Wren & Cuff website indicates the transistors are "hand matched" and the device is true hard-wire bypass in design. One germanium transistor is there to coax a soft and natural sounding lifting and leveling, the other is for fueling a germanium post amp that warms things up.
I suspect the germanium transistors are the selling point here and those considering the Gold Comp are probably doing so in hopes of benefitting from pleasing coloration.
I'll just come right out and say that right out of the box the Gold Comp delivers a natural warmth and clipping that is very pleasant. If you've ever used the Wren & Cuff Phat Phuk pedal you will immediately have a point of reference here.
There is an inherent "grit" to the tone that is neither obnoxious or subtle — It is just plain tasty.
Don't think of it as OD or distortion. No, it is more of a biting, cut through the mix type of sound. If that means sharp or shrill highs to you, well that isn't it either. It's warm and natural sounding and it's not intrusive. This is a fantastic mix for any guitarist looking for a slightly "dirty" or raw edge to their natural style.
For bassists playing a low B string, some may feel that too much low end is sucked out unless compression is set to very minimal settings.
It's more of a low end tightening type of feel which is great in its own right. But with bass guitar I found myself enthralled with the response on my E, A, D and G strings but my B string was just to squashed. Think big, round and warm with the very pleasing harmonic richness that isn't in your face. But, the lowest of the low end loses a bit of life in favor of more even tightening of sound. Depending on your preference, that may be OK.
The upper registers are beautiful with extended ringing sustain. To my ear there isn't much in the way of roll-off but I suspect my ear might be getting fooled due to the harmonic content that is more easily heard in the upper registers. The reality is the upper end is not harsh or shrill and feels balanced with the rest of the instrument range.
Speaking of sustain, there is loads of sustain on tap. Actually, it is quite impressive in this regard. Sustain for days!
There are only four controls on the face of the pedal and each offer a usefully wide range of control.
The compression dial goes from very subtle (basically no audible compression at full counterclockwise rotation) to all out squishy. Way to much squash for my taste. I found my sweet spot to be somewhere between 9:00 and 10:00.
The Release and Attack dials both offer a decent range too. I found my sweet spot with the Attack dial around 9:00 to allow some of my initial transient through. Like I said, the pedal is capable of feeling quite squashy. I liked the Release dial around 10:30. This thing is capable of a ton of sustain. In this case, that is a big compliment because the sustain is very even and natural feeling. However, at higher compression settings with shorter attack and longer release expect to notice a "pumping" effect. For a less obviously compressed "punchy" feel try starting with the Attack around noon and release around 9:00 and Compression dial at 9:00 - noon.
The Gold Comp is impressively quiet except for extreme settings which is very much understandable. One thing I did notice though is that pressing the foot switch can produce quite a loud "pop" so you'll want to be careful when you engage/disengage the pedal.
How does it perform and sound?
This compressor from Wren & Cuff is certainly an interesting device. On the one hand it is a formidable compressor albeit with some quirks. On the other hand, it could probably serve double duty as a boost or even always on preamp type pedal because of the pleasant coloration it delivers. Though it is definitely not a compressor for those looking for something transparent or neutral it does what it does while feeling quite natural. It is neither overly bright sounding or overly dark sounding. It is punchy as all get out yet responds well to dynamics.
How does the Wren & Cuff Gold Comp compare to the Fairfield Accountant which is another compressor included in the "dirty compressor" crowd? First and foremost I'd describe the Accountant as being capable of more dirt or gain influencing the breakup. Some might prefer that actually. I'd also describe the Accountant as having more grind and grunt. In my review of the Account I indicated that "with both switches in position 2 the Accountant is going to distort all of the time." I guess I'd describe the Accountant more "dirty" more often for lack of a better way to articulate the level of dirt. I'd describe the Gold Comp just as I would the Wren & Cuff Phat Phuk pedal — big tone with a bit of harmonic richness that would cut through the mix well. I really like the Fairfield Accountant and I'm honestly not sure whether I'd prefer it or the Gold Comp. Maybe reason to have both! :)
The Gold Comp is well built and easy to use. The enclosure itself is a little bigger than a MXR style pedal, just like other Wren & Cuff pedals. It is attractive with the subdued gold sparkle finish.
A gold LED illuminates when power is activated. There is no LED meter indicating gain reduction though this is one of those compressors where you can really feel what it is doing which does reduce the need for such an indicator. The dials all turn with authority.
Foot switch is true bypass though be mindful of the audible "pop" when engaging/disengaging. Input and output jacks are side mounted and 9 volt power input is located at the top of the pedal. There is room for a 9-volt battery inside the enclosure.
I'm surprised by this one in a good way. In my opinion, it is a nice option for those looking for a compressor that adds color in a very pleasing way. I play 5 string basses often and I just don't see my self ever being satisfied with how the Gold Comp handles the low B string.
At one time there were rumors that Wren & Cuff was working on a version of the Gold Comp designed for bass players. I would personally love to see such a device come to fruition.
For guitar, the Gold Comp is quite impressive. I loved it with my Fender Strat.
It's a powerful box and a lot of fun.
Warm, colorful compression
Harmonic content (if that is what you are looking for)
No threshold meter
The foot switch can make a loud audible "pop"
Low end could be considered to be overly squashed (but that could also be what you are looking for)
Customer service? Who knows. My inquiries were never acknowledged.
Retail Price: $244.99