Aphex Punch Factory

25 March 2012 | 11:36 am | Reza Nasseri

Beginning in 1975, Aphex Systems rose to prominence with their successful  Aural Exciter. The brand is back and we're checking out the  Aphex Punch Factory, a studio quality optical compressor for guitar and bass that houses expensive rack mounted circuitry in a stomp box. So what is a compressor you ask? More specifically what is an optical compressor?

Aphex Punch Factory

A compressor is an effect that limits the dynamic range of a signal or reduces the difference between loud and soft so you get a more even sound. An optical compressor translates an audio signal to light source (LED light) and utillises a photocell to read the amount of light signal. This means than optical compressor will automatically adjust to your playing style. The Punch Factory features a very basic control layout consisting of Input, Ratio and Output. There is a standard guitar input and output jack as well as an XLR output that could harness phantom power from a mixing desk, perfect for live gigs. I tested the Punch Factory with an acoustic guitar and an electric bass going from a desk to a powered speaker. First I used it with my acoustic, then EQ'd a decent tone (pedal bypassed) and strummed for a bit. I tested the pedal with a low ratio (amount of compression) and used the input and output to match the bypass level to listen out for any inconsistencies in tone, and was pleased that the unit sounded almost exactly the same but a touch brighter. Increasing the input level and ratio squashed the signal even further, enhancing sustain and harmonics but at the same time inducing a little bit of feedback.Next up was my bass guitar. Now any bass player or sound engineer knows how dynamic a bass can be so compression is our friend here, and for me I use lots to ensure there's a nice warm rumble constantly in the mix. Again, I started off the same way EQ'ing a direct tone and later adding compression. The Punch factory sounded even better with the bass and I ran the input and drove the compression so hard the walls were shaking (I can't wait to try this pedal at a gig)!

The Aphex Punch Factory is a great pedal that improves tone and helps your guitar or bass really shine
in a mix, as well out-performing standard stomp box compressors
I've tried in the past.

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