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Boost and Overdrive

Strymon Launches Compadre Dual Voice VCA Compressor & JFET Boost Replacement for Discontinued OB.1

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So today’s big Strymon announcement sees the re-introduction of their Compressor + Boost pedal not long after the announced retirement of the now discontinued ’OB.1’. Admittedly there is significantly more to the added bells and whistles of the Compadre. You have a classic Analog VCA Compressor and Analog JFET input stage for the boost, with a digital control layer to save presets for MIDI and switching pedal purposes. The Compressor gets a Dry / Parallel Compression Mix and separate Level and Footswitch to go with Studio and Squeeze Modes, while the Boost also gains a dual Clean/Dirty Mode selector via toggle switch on the rear of the pedal.


You can attach a TRS-style Expression pedal directly to a thoughtfully provided and suitably labelled ’Volume’ jack socket - for smooth VCA Volume Control, and you can attach Strymon’s Favorite or Triple Switches, or MIDI Controller to the remaining 4th socket. All really useful additions to the OB.1 but probably not really quite sufficiently innovative to sustain Strymon’s own lofty standards.


I fairly recently concluded a significant roundup of 28 Leading Compact Enclosure Compressors - and there are several models there that I find significantly preferable - including my own choice of Jackson Audio Bloom. In some ways the Compadre is a sort of jack of all trades, and is lacking in the usual secondary features you might expect to see on a Strymon - to allow you to fine-tune some of the settings. You could though say that the Compression part is not overly dissimilar to something like Thorpy’s 2-mode and 4-controls Fat General. It’s just with Strymon we always expect more and more smarts in particular - which I’m not really feeling here. I don’t doubt that this is a great offering overall - with carefully considered players’ features, but in light of other recent releases it all comes off as a little underwhelming.


Strymon also seems to have fallen into the same trap as Meris - in that you need to rely on external controllers to be able to use and engage presets. It could really do with taking a page out of Jackson Audio’s playbook - for how to do multiple modes on each footswitch, and cleverly combine using both together.


So in short - it’s a significant improvement over the OB.1 it is sort of replacing, but possibly not quite enough to encourage the vast majority to switch over from their Analog.Man, Becos FX, Origin Effects or Keeley types. In terms of a more multi-function pedal, I would prefer the DryBell Unit67, and my own Jackson Audio Bloom is still the top ranking choice for me overall. The Compadre seems to be a sort of half-way house in many ways which I think will appeal to players looking for a simpler format of Compressor - and then the Boost is a decent added bonus.


I’m still in line for the Iridium at some stage, while the $299 Compadre doesn’t quite suit my preferences or match my overall requirements - which are currently exactly covered by the Jackson Audio Bloom.

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Stefan Karlsson
Stefan Karlsson
Guitar Pedal X
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