The MXR Dyna Comp, the Ross Compressor and their numerous replicas are classics and are pretty suitable as a booster or to compress the signal heavily. Sometimes this effect is wanted but when you use high-output pickups or you are willing to use the pedal as an element of the sound this might be too much.
With the Cali76 the British manufacturer Origin Effects produced a replica of the Urei 1776 studio compressor in pedal form. The Cali76 opened completely new possibilities to guitarists.
As in a studio production the Cali76 can be adjusted quite subtle and by this can be used to freshen up the sound of the clean as well as the overdriven signal.
The first version of the Cali76 (which unfortunately is not produced anymore) had an in-built transformer and a large size enclosure. And while the Cali76TX uses a transformer with an iron core that has been created by Origin Effects, the Cali76TL uses a Lundahl transformer. The Cali76 standard-version got along without any transformer.
The iron core transformer is able to thicken the signal when it is lead to saturation. The Lundahl is a bit more neutral and its sound gets close to the standard-version. If you are looking for a compressor as neutral as possible this one might be the best choice.
But I would recommend the Cali76TX (with the iron core transformer) because it offers this additional sound option that enables you to create a fresh and also punchy guitar sound.
If you run the versions with transformer on 9V (instead of the recommended 18V) the transformercircuit will be bypassed and the pedal will sound exactly like the standard-version without transformer.
In addition this transformer-versions of the Cali76 have got a DI out and therefore are pretty suitable for homerecording.
Besides there has been a limited edition of the big Cali76 either with transistors instead of transformers or a transformer and an additional dry knob by which you could add the compressed signal to the original signal.
Cali76 C and Cali76 CD
The current versions of the Cali76 come out in a so-called compact version. They are pedalboard-friendly and have also a special feature of the studio technique: the deluxe-version provides the possibility to add the dry signal to the compressed signal. This addition of the signal maintains the transients of the string-attack while the compression also extends the sustain.
All in all the big version with transformer works a bit more subtle as the compressors of the compact-series and therefore you will not miss the dry knob.
By setting the input knob of the big Cali76 version at 10 o’clock this setting corresponds to the 9 o’ clock setting of the compact version.
All versions of the Cali76 can be used in front of as well as behind an overdrive pedal. If you have once turned on the compressor you will not turn it off again because it gives a certain three dimensionality to the sound and emphasizes single facets.
Other manufacturers have also recognized the trend and offer compressors in the quality of studio equipment. There are for example the Boss den CP-1X, the Keeley Compressor Pro and the Roger Mayer RM58 Limiter.