Xotic SP Compressor Review – Best Guitar Compression Pedal?

Reviewed by:
On July 2, 2013
Last modified:October 6, 2016



There are many guitar compression pedals available on the market, several of which seek to emulate and surpass the famed Ross Compressor. Xotic decided to have a go at creating a compressor in the vein of that classic pedal while adding more versatility and sound-shaping options than most pedal makers have ever packed into such a small enclosure. Is this the best guitar compression pedal out there? Our Xotic SP Compressor review will help you decide if this is the compression pedal you’re looking for.



Uses the same OTA (operational transconductance amplifier) technology use in the famed Ross Compressor.

Tones ranging from vintage, to subtle, to modern, and more.

Volume knob for up to +15db of boost.

Blend knob for finding the perfect balance between the dry and compressed signal.

2 Attack/Release internal dip switches.

High Cut Filter internal dip switch for controlling high frequency roll off capacitor (220pf).

Input Pad internal dip switch for preventing distortion and low cut filter control.

True bypass for eliminating any signal interference when switched off.

Powered by 9-volt batter or 9VDC power adapter. May also be run at 18-volts with the Xotic Voltage Doubler.

Visit Xotic for more info about the Xotic SP Compressor.

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Sound & Performance:

I had a feeling this was going to be a really interesting pedal right when I pulled it out of the box. The Xotic SP Compressor has a real simple, yet sleek look, similar to the Xotic EP Booster and Xotic SL Drive pedals. It’s also surprisingly heavy for such a tiny little pedal. You instantly get the feeling that Xotic built a real solid and durable pedal. This isn’t some low-budget knock-off pedal.

Having a glance at the included manual reveals that this pedal contains 4 internal two-way dip switches in addition to the 2 surface knobs and three-way Lo/Mid/Hi toggle switch for a total of 7 parameter adjustment controls. That’s a lot of options for such a small unit. You can really tell that Xotic spared no consideration for offering the most versatility they could squeeze into the SP Compressor.

I went ahead and unscrewed the bottom of the enclosure to allow instant access to shaping my tone while testing this pedal for my review. I recommend doing the same when you un-box your SP Compressor to spend some time finding your preferred settings. Although, it does sound pretty great in it’s default settings. You may just want to leave it as is.

Xotic-SP-Compressor-Review-Best-Guitar-Compression-Pedal-03I started with a single-coil Strat sound with a clean amp and the SP Compressor in between. With the knobs on the pedal at noon and the Sustain/Compression toggle switch set to Lo, I activated the effect and was greeted to a nice boost in volume.

At this setting the compression is quite subtle, but there is a slight increase in sustain. Tweaking the Volume and Blend knobs in the range of 10 to 2 o’clock helps to find a good amount of blended compression level. The effect is smooth and pleasing to the ears, and this is a great starter setting for adding just a bit of clarity and boost to your clean phrasing.

Things get a bit more interesting by flipping the Sustain/Compression switch to the Mid position. With the internal dip switches at their default position this puts you in what the SP Compressor manual labels as a Classic Vintage style compression. I find this setting to be a great all-around compression sound for most applications.

Again, just a slight tweak of the Blend knob really lets you dial in the compression just the way you like it. The Blend knob really is the most ingenious function on this pedal and really sets the Xotic SP Compressor apart in a crowded market. This pedal really is something special and is surely to become a secret weapon of many guitarists. Did I mention the pure, near-transparent tone? For an OTA style comp it’s not as overly colored as some lesser compressor guitar pedals.

Flipping the internal Attack/Release dip switches to the On position for quicker attack and release times brings in the twang if country-style compression is what you’re after. Flip the High Cut filter dip switch from its default position if you want to make your sound even brighter. Watch out though. This pedal really cuts though. The SP Compressor never ceases to amaze me with how much control it offers for crafting your ideal compression sound.

The SP Compressor works exceptionally well for really making your lead sounds cut through with singing sustain. Try it with a humbucker equipped guitar for some really fat sounds. Flipping the Compression/Sustain switch to Hi may raise the noise level a bit too much for most clean applications, but it may just be perfect for your gain-saturated guitar solos. No matter what your compression needs may be, there is a setting to be found in this pedal that will get the job done.

If you’re a session player who travels light when it comes to effects, you may appreciate that this pedal is so tiny while still offering 9-volt battery power. Huge tonal options, minuscule size, and plug-and-play convenience. The SP Compressor is hard to beat in every category.

UPDATE: I had the opportunity to try the Xotic SP Compressor with the Xotic Voltage Doubler (as seen in the video above). This allows you to achieve even more headroom from the pedal. It’s definitely worth trying as it provides a subtle sonic upgrade to what is already a great sounding compressor. The difference isn’t night and day, but it’s certainly noticeable and may offer a sound that you like even more. You can also use the Xotic Voltage Doubler with the Xotic EP Booster and SL Drive (and other 18-volt compatible pedals), making it a useful accessory to have indeed.

Let’s have the final result.



Xotic really went all out with the SP Compressor. This pedal offers more versatility than most compressors out there while remaining small enough to find a home on any crowded pedalboard. Whether playing sparkly cleans or distorted leads, the SP Compressor will bring your tones to life with unrivaled clarity. The SP Compressor has positioned itself in the top tier of the battle for best guitar compression pedal on the market. This may just be the only compressor you ever need. I’ll be spending a lot more time with this pedal myself. I suggest you get acquainted with it, also.

That concludes our Xotic SP Compressor review. Thanks for reading.


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  1. Am looking for a guitar compressor to set up and one of my friend recommend me to use a exotic sp compressor and after reading reviews and this video its make me more excited to implement soon.

  2. “The Blend knob really is the most ingenious function on this pedal and really sets the Xotic SP Compressor apart in a crowded market. ” The blend feature on pedal compressors was around for nearly a decade before the SP, funny that it should make Xotic seem “”ingenious” or “set apart”…homework time!

  3. Link exchange is nothing else but it is just placing
    the other person’s blog link on your page at proper place and
    other person will also do same in support of you.

  4. Heya i am for the first time here. I came across
    this board and I find It really useful & it helped me out a lot.
    I hope to give something back and help others like you helped me.

  5. In my opinion this is the best between these Xotic small beauties. It’s transparent and plenty with option. This is really great. A must, and a need.

  6. i would enjoy a compression pedal for the ambient stuff i play, to get some more sustain. but being an ambient guitar player means pedal board space is scarce. maybe this little compressor would be a nice fit, good quality and small footprint.

  7. This is the way pedals SHOULD be made. I have a TC Electronics Mini Poly Tune and Mini Hof on the board. I laugh at the clowns that crave vintage refrigerators that create noise. Welcome to the future. Thanks for the great review!

  8. I’ve been using the SP Compressor since it came out. It was the perfect compressor for my needs. First of all it fits perfectly on Pedaltrain above an Ernie Ball VP Jr without cables getting wrapped up. Secondly, the blend feature is awesome. It really allows it to sound transparent without the obvious unnatural squashed sound. I’ve gone through probably 10 compressors and this is the one I’m sticking with for a qhile.

  9. As soon as I started looking at compression/sustain pedals, the SP jumped right out at me and I haven’t been able to find a bad review yet. It’s the perfect compact size for my increasingly crowded board and seems to do its job without a bunch of unnecessary bells and whistles.

  10. Absolutely fantastic sounding device. My friends owns one, so believe me, I do know what I’m talking about. I have marshall ed-1 and no comparison is even possible..

  11. “Secret weapon” hits the nail on the head. I’d really love one of these, it would give the beards of my germanium fuzzes a well needed goatee!

  12. Me WANT this SP Compresisor pedal!!
    read many review about how good it is, the small enclosure was easy to cramped to my crowded pedalboard

  13. Love everything about this pedal. Its great how it can get that snappiness without that muddy clip at the attack stage. And the classiest enclosure I’ve ever seen.

  14. Buddy of mine agrees with you about this compressor, it’s become one of his always on pedals. I need to get him to loan it to me!

  15. Great Compression pedal! I heard the guitarist from Aerosmith just loves it and I really badly want it! Good review also by the way!

  16. Wow, a 5-star compressor? I’ll have to try it. I’ve been looking to upgrade from my boss cs-5, and would love a compressor that offers the kind of clarity this supposes.

  17. Sound, size, high quality components, all gotten right with with this pedal. Exotic is just alright with me, exotic is just alright oh yeah!

  18. Sounds like a perfect replacement for my Redwitch Grace Compressor, a rad pedal which I stupidly fried with a positive tip power supply that has now been taken to with a hammer.
    Please pity the fool

  19. I’ve been in the market for a compressor and after reading/watching this pedal’s review I am smitten. Xotic’s pedals work together and compliment each other quite nicely.

  20. After reading the review, this pedal is EXACTLY what I need for my current board.
    The interesting dynamic this Compressor will give me just may set me apart the way I have have looking for.
    Great review, keep up the good work. So nice to come to a site where you can find so much great information all in one spot!
    Hopefully I will be able to pick one of these up soon!

  21. Always struggle to find a good compressor that ends up staying on my board. This little one sounds like it might have the versatility and sound quality to stay. Great review again guys.

  22. Compressors are tricky. Some sound great in the effects loop and others work best in the up front effects chain ….I would LOVE to see if the SP is Really comprable to the Ross Compressor at a fraction of the price. Please rush me this pedal as soon as possible when you choose me entry and thank you for the opportunity to win this gem.

  23. After watching the review, this is the compressor pedal I want. I had the Carl Martin Compressor/Limiter years ago, it was good but very bulky. Love the sleek/small design of the SP. Thanks Best Guitar Effects!

  24. Overall, I think this pedal is a winner. I’ll certainly like it a lot more than the Keeley and the Custom Comp. And give it an edge over the Barber.

  25. Days spent to find the right compressor to upgrade my pedalboard for the next London shows and after reading this review I’ll definitely go for the SP compressor. I’ve always been a fan of Ross compressor and I think this Xotic box will bring that cut to my ’78 stratocaster shaping the sound the way I need.
    Xotic made a great job!

  26. I dig the size of this pedal. I have a rad Telenordia Kompressor right now and don’t know if it could replace that, but it’d be great to save on the space…and I’ve always loved Xotic stuff!

  27. I haven’t been able to try the xotic compressor yet, but I have there boost pedal and love the sound / build quality you get at such an affordable price. Not to mention the small foot print it’s a win win situation! Keep up the great work xotic! I can’t wait to try this compressor out.

  28. I am in need a great compression pedal, the one on my board is lacking and I don’t like the way it colors my tone. Seem I am always turning knobs to get it sounding to where I might want it. Just seems to be taking up space on my board since I almost never engage it anymore! I would love the Exotic SP Compressor as my go to compressor of choice!

  29. I go through periods of using a compressor and playing without one but with a footprint this small one could just leave it on the board all the time, even if its not being used! My favorite compressor is the Barber Tone Press and I also own the Boss CS 2 and MXR Dynacomp. The Keeley and SP compressor are on my list of ones to try at some point.

  30. I’ve heard a lot of good things about this compressor. Love the small form factor for utility pedals like these on a gigging pedalboard.

  31. Never played this pedal, but I’ve played the other two and they’re absolutely amazing so I expect this to be just the same

  32. I’ve never had a compressor on my pedal board. This one may make a fantastic first. Thanks for doing the great reviews.

  33. Tested this pedal at Guitar Center and was utterly blown away. I’m pretty firmly in the fingers-as-dynamic-tools and have generally eschewed compressors since a foray into using them with my (then main) Carvin VM100’s clean channel – mainly to even out levels between positions 2/4 (hum+single) versus 1/5 (full humbuckers) on my Jem (with its signature high output pickups resulting in the discrepant output levels between end and middle switch positions).

    This one, though, seemed to add some warmth and pop without a significant impact to playing dynamics and articulation. It’s definitely on my to-acquire list.

  34. Not a big fan of compressors but I keep reading that this is the compressor for guitarist who don’t like compressors, so maybe this will be the one.

  35. The secret to a great clean tone is a single coil pickup, a volume knob rolled back, and a great compressor… I think the Xotic SP compressor more than fits the bill!

  36. Actually, I may like the SL Drive & EP Booster equally, so if I could win 2 out of three, dem would be the two. Otherwise, all good things come in 3’s. :) :)

    Thanks again,

  37. Xotic Effects sound great, fill in and complete your presentation. I like the SL Drive, EP Boost & SP Compressor in that order.

    Thanks for the reviews and your generous effort,

  38. A great compressor is the first pedal I ever look for, anything else is gravy, nice guitar, decent amp and a compressor lets your fingers do the talking!

  39. This pedal is so versatile that i can even used it as a clean boost, or even like a nice little overdrive. These 3 pedals are just great, I’ve never heard of this brand before and now i just love it!

  40. It should be great. Based on the review and other videos I would like to have one despite I’m not being a compressor guy. I would love this pedal.

  41. I don’t have a lot of room either on my board – I haven’t taken the plunge into getting a compressor yet, but this might fit the bill

  42. I’ve been thinking of adding a compressor pedal to my board. This one sounds like it might be the one. Small footprint and packed with features. I especially like the blend feature.

  43. I have heard all good things when it comes to exotic effects!. And I have heard over and over again from all my gear nerd buddies that I’m crazy for not having a compressor on my current pedal board. Well I think I could make room for this little specimen!

  44. This is a really cool pedal. I ended up selling it and an EP booster since I have a Strymon OB.1 (Optical Compressor and Boost). It was easier to sell the SP compressor and the EP booster than the Strymon OB.1.

    Really wanted to keep it, but I thought it was a bit overkill to have 2x boost/compressors.

    I’d recommend this one! (And the EP booster) :)


  45. Super interested in the Sp compressor. That blend control sounds like the control most compressors should have but don’t. well done xotic!

  46. Yes, a very nice review, maybe even too nice. I feel like he’s selling it to me personally, Does Gabriel ever write bad reviews. I bought this unit a few days ago and do like that it doesn’t color the sound like some other boxes.

  47. xotic sp comp?i just have it today,sounds great mostly on my clean sound its an awesome comp pedal,have one and enjoy your new level of your sound….

  48. This review was so informative!!!! Thanks a ton for the great reviews, I always look to this site first befoe I check out a new pedal for myself. I DEFINITELY want this pedal now!!! :)

  49. Impressive dynamics from such a small unit. I was a big fan of the Dyna Comp with JHS mod, but the Xotic SP Compressor is right there with it. Would love to win it!

  50. As an acoustic singer/guitarist I have just recently become aware of the value of compression when playing amplified because I have to do my own sound now. I don’t have any Xotic products but this one sounds great and seems to have great simple control set. Great demo of this and the superego too. Keep up the great demos I will be back.

    have a peaceful day,

  51. Been looking for a better compressor pedal. Still just using the right side of the Rt 66 OD/comp. checked out a keeley but this one intrigues me. Small and I’ve only heard good things about Xotic effects. Would love to put this on my pedal Board!

  52. Great review! I don’t have an Xotic Effects SP Compressor but I definitely need to add it to my pedal board! Thanks for the chance!

  53. This review has me wanting to try this pedal. Plenty of features packed into a small pedal. I’m already a fan of Xotic Effects as I own and love both the EP Booster and the BB Preamp. The EP Booster is always on, placed after my dirt pedals and adds something that I find hard to put into words. You just have to hear it. The BB Preamp adds transparent overdrive that cleans up with a turn your guitar’s volume knob for a variety of sounds.

  54. I am buying one!! I have several fly dates coming up and I am making a travel board small enough to carry in my suitcase
    So far:

    Budda wah, Boss tu-2/TC electronic Polytune Mini, SP compressor, Maxon SD-9, Maxon 808, Ernie Ball Jr. w. tonesuck mod, Maxon AD-9/ TC electronics Nova Delay

  55. I started w a Maxon comp – worked well, hated the soft stomp switch.
    Now I’m using a Wampler Ego comp and its great(!) but needs more room
    Than this little SP! ..want!

  56. Wow! That’s a cute little pedal! I am yet to try this out at my local store.
    May I add this is a good a balanced review. Did you do that demo too? Even if you didn’t it complemented it very well Mr Gabriel! Thanks for trying it with different pickups. That’s something that isn’t normally done in most demos. Maybe we could hear more about its performance alongside other pedals? I’d wanna hear about how it could sound like with my SD-1 overdrive!

    Thanks very much and good luck to all contestants of the competition! x

  57. I started doing compression pedal research just a week ago, and coincidentally stumbled across this review. Wow! this is a killer compression pedal. I’m starting to save up for a pedalboard for myself, and this is definitely looking like the one for me.

  58. Very good review. One thing that seems to be missing from every review I read is how this pedal sounds in with a bunch of other pedals. Is it best before distortion or after, etc. I am a working musician and this kind of info really helps me find a starting place for incorporating a pedal like this into my various pedal boards. I love the idea of a blend knob and wish that they would put blend knobs on all effects pedals. I also love the idea of high, middle, and low compression. I tend to use the compressor to take the high bite off of my bridge pick-ups and then have to deal with the low end being too squished. This just seems like a really practical pedal. I own several xotic effects and am absolutely sold on the RC Booster. It is awesome. Love your site, thanks.

  59. Sounds great! I would love to write a review, but first I’ll need the pedal. Email me for shipping info.
    But seriously, it seems quite a versatile pedal, as far as compressors go. I’d love to try it first hand.

  60. I CANNOT WAIT to get my hands on one of these!!! I am in college right now and don’t have the extra cash for a new board and power supplies, so my board is very limited on space. This would be the PERFECT Ross-based compressor I have been looking for… and the BLEND knob is such a great idea!?! I currently own the Xotic EP Booster and a huge of their lineup. Once again, well done Xotic Effects, and thank you Best Guitar Effects for this great (and VERY helpful) review!.

  61. This sounds like a winner and the form factor is really a plus in my honest opinion. I will definitely have to take this for a tet drive and check out Xotic’s other offerings too.

  62. My frame of reference for a compressor is usually the Diamond Optical Compressor. Easily the most popular pedal among the boutique crowd.

    After playing the Xotic SP, I’d have to say this is the only thing I would consider to replace the Diamond (and at half the price!) do keep in mind that the SP is more of a Ross-style compressor whereas the Diamond is an optical compressor. They both have their strengths and weaknesses.

  63. I’d like to see a side by side comparison vs a DynaComp. DynaComp doesn’t have that blend knob of course, but I think it more or less defines the compressor genre of pedals. Of course to do that comparison I’d have to have an SP.

  64. Looks beautiful. It’s amazing that they packed so much tonal versatility in such a small enclosure. Sounds incredible too.

  65. Excellent review! Thank you for going into such great depth on all the features. There is a lot more here than first meets the eye!

  66. All of Xotic’s pedals are great. I own 3 of them (AC Plus, BB Pre, EP Booster) and I’m really considering bring on this compressor in the future to replace my Keeley.


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