Extensive compressor reviews and FAQ

Joemeek FloorQ: Joemeek has long been known for their rackmount signal processors, but they began making pedals a couple years ago. This one includes the exact same compression circuit that's in their modern rack units such as the MC2, plus a preamp stage.
Just as with their others, the tone is warm but mostly clean, with no loss of highs or lows; the noise is very low (even silent at some settings); and the action is bouncy and squishy. The action can be set to a much less obvious squish effect at lower ratios and higher thresholds. At high ratio/low threshold settings, you get a syrupy "bwuop" envelope. The threshold knob is labeled "Compress", and the ratio knob is labeled "Slope". All of the controls have a wide and very useful range of function. The ratio goes up to 10:1, so it will handle moderate peak limiting, but not extreme spikes.
The preamp stage is engaged at all times, whether the compressor is switched on or off, so this pedal acts as a very good buffer for strengthening a long signal chain. It also has enough clean gain available to fully drive a power amp by itself. The "Input" knob controls the preamp gain, so this will also control the level of your signal when the compression is bypassed. The "Output" knob controls the amount of make-up gain that is applied when the compression is engaged.
The construction is quite nice actually, it has a robust feel, including the pots. It looks very classy--much better than it appears from the computer-drawn images of it shown on most websites and auctions. The footswitch only turns the compression on/off, it does not bypass the preamp stage; so obviously it is not "true bypass", but then in this case that is a big selling point: it has a very good buffer instead.
It's quite large, about 2/3 the size of the Markbass, almost twice as large as a standard Boss pedal. It runs on standard Boss-type 9VDC, and it does fine on daisy-chain supplies; but it will also run on any center-negative supply from 9V to 18V, AC or DC! Very convenient. I tested it with different voltages, and it seemed to have a little bit more noise at 9V, but otherwise the tone and performance were the same. I imagine the difference would be more apparent when cranking up the input gain for driving a power amp, where at 9V it might not have as much headroom before clipping.
Comparing it against some of the other "squishy" pedals I have currently:
The Markbass has richer, fatter tone and is better at peak limiting, but the Joemeek has lower noise, is not as huge, is more convenient to power, and its tone is more crisp and clear in the highs.
The FEA Opti-FET is smaller and has the sidechain option, but the Joemeek is brighter in the highs, and is capable of more extreme envelope effects.
The EXAR is much smaller, and has more extreme sustaining powers, but the Joemeek has lower noise and much better highs.
Of those, only the Joemeek has the ability to drive a typical PA power amp. All in all, I like this pedal a lot!

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