Maxon CP9Pro+ Compressor/Limiter
The CP9Pro+ ($300 retail/$225 street) boasts a circuit patented by the legendary studio-gear manufacturer dbx, and this compression pedal indeed produces a lot more clarity, linearity, and dynamics than most of its ilk. I was able to cop anything from a smooth, springy, chicken-pickin’ squash to a ringing indie jangle with little trouble, and by advancing Gain to about 20 with Threshold at –30 and Ratio at 4:1, I could even emulate a spongy, tactile blues sound reminiscent of a small tweed amp pushed hard. Full limiting works smoothly, and, at 1:1, you can use the unit’s 30dB of available gain as a clean boost. While the CP9Pro+ is more open and linear than most comps I’ve tried, it definitely adds a welcome degree of sweetness and thickness to your tone. It also has the lowest operational noise of any comp pedal I can recall. Excellent stuff. Its only drawbacks are some intermittency in switching when the battery is low, and the fact that you need a firm foot for positive engagement at all times.
Maxon PT9Pro+ Phaser
As analog phasers go, the PT9Pro+ ($350 retail/$262 street) is of the more potent variety: an LDR (light dependent resistor) based, ten-stage phaser that shares sonic territory with classic heavyweights such as the MXR Phase 100 and Boss PH-2. The main benefit is a Feedback (or “resonance”) control—typically found on more advanced phasers—that taps a feedback loop in the circuit to enhance frequency peaks as desired. When nearly cranked, the knob enables a honking, synthetic swoosh that can even approach subtle flanging. Pushed even further, it induces piercing internal oscillation. Used in moderation, with a light touch on Width, the pedal sounds smooth and vocal, with a warm wobble that produces toothsome movement and depth. This circuit always retains a good deal of your guitar’s dynamics, although it certainly stamps its sound all over your tone at anything but the subtlest settings. Also, most of the Speed control’s action happens in the final 20 percent of its travel—a short twist that runs all the way from a Uni-Vibe’s slow to fast settings.