Video: MXR Compressor Shootout

Many people might not realize how imperative a compressor is, but trust us when we say: it is. Tons of your favorite artists have been using compression pedals for decades, whether in live settings or in the studio. MXR has been a staple on pedalboards worldwide for many years, and they’ve been producing quality compression pedals ever since the initial release of the Dyna Comp. So which MXR compressor takes the cake? We had a shootout to find out.

Original Dyna Comp

Original MXR Dyna Comp

Original MXR Dyna Comp

Boasting the now-discontinued CA3080 integrated circuit that gave this compression pedal its signature squashed sound, the original MXR Dyna Comp has graced the pedalboards of many a famous guitarist, including David Gilmour and many popular Nashville fingerpickers. With just output and sensitivity controls, this highly sought after hand-wired compressor is simple and intuitive, and doesn’t offer a ton of precision tonal control. And don’t be mistaken; the vintage Dyna Comp isn’t transparent and will color your tone, but it just may be to your liking — it was to Gilmour’s.

Dyna Comp Reissue

MXR Dyna Comp Reissue

MXR Dyna Comp Reissue

Though not nearly as collectable as its vintage counterpart, the MXR Dyna Comp Reissue offers sound similar enough to the original that its lack of the CA3080 chip is hardly noticeable. Also known as the M-102, the new Dyna Comp isn’t hand-wired, but it does come with a handy red LED light, which lets you know when the pedal is on, and is true bypass. The Dyna Comp Reissue also sports the same output and sensitivity controls that you can find on the original, making the reissue a no-brainer if you’re looking for a modern update.

Custom Comp

MXR Custom Comp

MXR Custom Comp

The MXR Custom Comp brings you the best of both worlds: sonic similarity to the vintage Dyna Comp, complete with the discontinued CA3080 IC, and the modern appointments of the reissue. A true blend of vintage and updated technology, the Custom Comp CSP202 offers the same classic sound as the earlier Dyna Comps, but without the customary hiss, thanks to the Custom Comp’s updated components. More transparency, an LED indicator typical of newer MXR pedals, and an internal attack control, along with the output and sensitivity knobs, are all characteristic of the MXR Custom Comp.

Super Comp

MXR Super Comp

MXR Super Comp

Giving you more control over the legendary Dyna Comp circuit, the MXR Super Comp’s third external knob gives you the ability to precisely carve out your compression and maintain your own spot in the mix. Of course, the Super Comp M132 comes with the output and sensitivity knobs typical of the Dyna Comps that came before it, but the Super Comp houses an additional control for attack so you can keep that tight, snappy sound all the way through the end of your sustain -- and you can even push the Super Comp up into a harmonically rich overdrive.

Studio Compressor

MXR Studio Compressor

MXR Studio Compressor

The MXR Studio Compressor is the most comprehensive of these MXR compression pedals by a long shot. Containing almost all the control of your typical studio compressor in one pedal, the Studio Compressor has the output and sustain knobs of the Dyna Comp, the attack knob of the Super Comp and a few additional goodies. Accompanying the attack knob is a new release control, as well as a ratio switch setting, which allows you to change the limiter settings, and a gain reduction meter to show just how much your signal is being affected. For those who want total control over their compression pedal, the MXR Studio Compressor may win this shootout.

To hear just how much or little each one of these compression pedals affects a clean signal, check out the shootout above, hosted by Joe, and then shop for your favorite MXR compressor by clicking the banners below.

MXR Compressors Shop Now

Learn more about effects pedals on our Effects Pedals: What Do They Do? | The Basics homepage.

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