Cost: $99.00 new
How it Works and Final Score: 8.3
The Dr. J Aerolite Compressor pedal offers great compression while adding a few new dimensions to your tone such as sustain or boost when used correctly. With 4 knobs and one switch, there are plenty of parameters to get to know before using this true bypass compressor. The “Mix” control blends the compressed and original signals, and when turned all the way counter clock wise, can provide a small signal boost to your guitar tone, giving it a second potential use on your board. The “Attack” control can be used to adjust the dynamic attack and touch-sensitivity of the compressor. “Comp”, as expected, allows you to set the level of compression and sustain applied to the original guitar tone. Lastly, the “Output” functions as a volume control, setting the output volume. The three way switch allows the user to choose between high, middle, and low input adjustment that can help compensate for the output differences between high output active pickups or low output single coils for example.
This compressor has some awesome features not seen on other compressors such as the 3 way input switch which made a huge difference in tone and volume preservation when switching between single coils, humbuckers, and active pickups. Even better, the mix control lets you dial in awesome sounds with an even mix of your original signal and compressed signal, and every other combo. The slight boost it provides when you turn the mix down was also nice because it really retains that true, original signal without any added gain or distortion. I was constantly impressed with the impact the pedal made on my clean tones and would highly recommend playing around with all the knobs to see how you can best use the pedal. While the comp and attack options are pretty standard on compressor pedals, the other two settings add a ton of excess variety that I wasn’t expecting to enjoy so much.
Just like with the last Dr. J pedal, the Emerald Overdrive, I’m not totally sold on the durability long term but have yet to have any issues with it myself so I am trying to reserve judgement. Essentially, the metal casing feels hollow, leaving a lot of room for wires and circuits to bounce around inside, especially after a ton of usage and wear and tear. But until I actually have an issue, I can’t give it any worse of a score.
While it isn’t the cheapest compressor out there, it certainly mixes in a ton of features you probably won’t get on similarly priced models. The only thing holding it back is that some people may find it unnecessary to have so many controls on a compressor and will opt for a cheaper, more streamlined option like the MXR Dyna Comp. While I personally prefer as many tone parameters as possible on my pedals, I must acknowledge that viewpoint, considering MXR or Boss have longer history of effect pedal excellence and comparably prices. Overall though, for about $100, I think this is an excellent pedal for players who often switch between many guitars or pickup types, or really like to spend time messing around with their tone.