Tone Report Magazine Reviews the Cali76-CD Compressor Pedal
Tone Report Weekly is a guitar magazine for guitar players obsessed with great tone. Every week TR release an online magazine packed with the latest gear, guitar lessons, and even DIY pedal build guides.
Issue 154 included a review of our top-selling compressor pedal, the Cali76 Compact Deluxe. Review, Yoel Kreisler, really enjoyed writing the review and using the pedal – so much so that he doesn’t want to send the review pedal back and is keeping it for himself!
Have a read of the review here and be sure to download each week for the newest gear reviews, interviews, and lessons!Repurposing classic, tried and-true studio units into stompbox format is no new idea. Arguably almost every form of stompbox we have today (save for a good number of overdrives and distortions) were born thanks to studio experimentation. Delay, reverb, flanging, chorus, and ADT are just a few effects that got their start behind a mixing desk or on a tape deck. The compressor is perhaps one of the most misunderstood effects among guitar players, budding studio engineers, and music enthusiasts alike. Compression as an effect has been used since amplifiers have been around, and they were originally used to automatically control the volume or gain coming into the unit by a set threshold. The louder the input signal, the compressor automatically turns down the volume, and the softer it is, the compressor turns up the volume. The different types of compressors through the years have introduced their own sonic colorations and “attack” to a signal, which makes them preferred or disliked by musicians and studio engineers.
The Cali76 by UK-based Origin Effects is based on the classic Urei 1176 Peak Limiter, a studio staple that has been around since 1968, and on far too many records and songs to recount here. In addition to squashing and smoothing transients, the 1176 adds a nice high end brightness and sweetness that is just a byproduct of its design, which is half of what makes it so desirable. Origin Effects has taken on the monumental task of creating an 1176-style compressor that is pedalboard friendly, while retaining the sweet hi-fi characteristics of the original unit.Looking at the Cali76 reveals that Origin Effects took a few well-needed liberties when designing this pedal. While the original 1176 has a pre-set ratio, Origin has made the ratio on the Cali76 sweepable, an excellent idea for those situations that require more delicate limiting. Looking at the rest of the pedal, we have standard compressor controls with input and output gain, as well as Attack and Release. The jewel indicator on the front glows orange while compressing, and reacts to your signal, giving this pedal a hi-fi studio feel, always a plus over here. However, what sets this compressor apart from the rest, and really makes me question all my previous compressor purchases is the inclusion of the Dry blend, allowing you to mix in your dry signal to the compressed signal to taste. This feature is incredibly useful, and is quite possibly the most intuitive compression control I’ve ever used (including some very expensive studio units). It allows you to subtly impart a warm snappiness to your signal, without absolutely smashing your tone with gelatinous transients. However, should you want to submit your guitar to such things, the Cali76 is there for you.Getting over the honeymoon, I went to work with this compressor, keeping it in my rig for almost three weeks to this day (an unprecedented amount of time on the pedalboard of this reviewer).
This pedal, like the studio unit before it, imparts a bright warmth to your signal that will almost make you want to squint at higher volume levels. It makes your tone feel more intimate, depending on where you set the attack and release. Set the Attack a little sluggish and the Release a little quick, and the post-picking transients will bloom out of your amp. Fingerpicking accentuates this effect, and altering your picking attack makes the compressor act in turn, by softening and sweetening those plucks. This effect is almost pillowy, and really needs to be heard to be believed.
The Cali76 is wired for buffered bypass, so if that turns you off, turn back now. I noticed with my Analogman Buffer it was incredibly bright, so I put the Cali76 in the front of my chain and removed the Analogman. The Cali is now taking care of buffer duties, and as a buffer it’s decent. It gets the job done, but doesn’t have the detail of my Analogman buffer when not engaged. The Cali76 Compact Deluxe is a premium product, no question. It feels good, looks good, and most importantly of all, sounds good. The inclusion of a Dry control sets it apart from the sea of other
compressors out there, and the tonal character it imparts is one that hi-fi minded guitar players will love at the first stomp.
WHAT WE LIKE
Warm, musical, and hi-fi. Enhances all the right parts of your pick attack to make it sound intimate and clear. Dry control is incredibly intuitive and makes me think every compressor from now on
Can be a little too bright for some, buffer isn’t the most detailed.