Module 4 – Orange flavored compression
The Module 4 is our highly versatile take on a classic vintage compressor – Dan Armstrong’s Orange Squeezer from the ‘70s. Some people may know this, but two interesting facts contribute to the unique tone, player’s feel and iconic character of this type of compressor. Direct cable connection between the electric guitar (pickup) and the Orange Squeezer’s (OS) front-end circuit results in a specific EQ change – a shift in the mid and top end frequencies. This provides a pleasant vintage tonal character, similar to low impedance inputs on some other types of gear. On top of that, the frequency shifting is controlled by the player’s pick attack; you can feel this warm dynamic tone response while playing. In other words, the OS unit acts as a kind of envelope followed EQ. This combination of unique signal EQ ‘treatment’ followed by a precisely biased vintage JFET compressor is the key to this historic tone and feel. This is the reason why guitarists love this unit and why it’s used on so many great records in rock and roll history. The Module 4 has the same spirit in its analog core. But, it’s equipped with several useful, colorful and practical options, all packed into our new enclosure line.
A little bit about the Orange Squeezer’s history
Back in the 1970’s, an American guitarist, luthier, and session musician Dan Armstrong developed a whole series of small, box-shaped guitar effects. The original units are collectible, hard to find and therefore pretty expensive. They were designed with a plug which was meant to be inserted directly into your guitar. One of them is called the Orange Squeezer, a cult vintage compressor and one of the most popular units in the lineup. In the vast sea of compressors, the Orange Squeezer has its own special place in the hearts of many musicians. It became legendary for its unique colorful compression which can be heard on countless recordings throughout the decades, most notably by Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits, Jeff “Skunk” Baxter of Steely Dan fame and Ry Cooder.
On the surface, the original Squeezer design is very simple, but its impact on the guitar’s tone is far from it, especially with passive guitar pickups connected directly to the circuit. Depending on the signal level of the pickups being used, it brings you a wide range of compression, from subtle to extremely squishy while adding sustain and quite a bit of grit to your tone. The OS attack & release settings were fixed internally. One great feature of the OS is its ability of stacking with different drive pedals. If used in moderate drive settings, the long sustain and multiple harmonics would evolve into note bloom resulting in beautiful feedback.
The original OS circuit varies in terms of sound from unit to unit and could be quite noisy at certain bias settings. When bypassed, the unit still changed some tonal characteristics and the (make-up) volume varied, all depending on the unit’s temperature, how it was adjusted internally and the pickups used. The usage of those little boxes was also limited, for example, they couldn’t be used with a Stratocaster because of the recessed output jack, unless modded. Also, later reissues weren’t very close to the original in terms of build and tone. But in essence, the Orange Squeezer’s tonal uniqueness in terms of pick-attack controlled EQ combined with a spongy organic compression, most noticeable with the single coils, is the key reason for the iconic status gained among many artists throughout guitar history.
We’re excited to present the Module 4!
Team behind the Module 4 development
As with all previous DryBell designs, we wanted to bring something special and inspirational to your gear arsenal. The R&D team behind our pedal ideas has three members now: Zvonch, Kruno and Kiki (our new engineer). Kruno is an award winning professional guitarist with many years of live and studio playing time. Zvonch (DryBell owner) and Kiki are two expert electronics engineers with huge audio and industrial electronics design experience and both are also guitarists. So, we continue combining the best of those worlds to bring you something very special.
Module 4 – Orange flavored compression
The Module 4 analog compressor is engineered with the highest precision to achieve versatility, low noise, expanded headroom and sound resolution, while keeping Armstrong’s magic inside the pedal. You get that classic tone but you can tweak it to the finest detail. All of the Module 4 circuitry is completely original and unique in its design.
The Module 4 can be transformed to a standard Full Frequency range compressor by switching the Orange button off. Basically, you have two flavors available and they are easily distinguishable. ORANGE mode is warm, vintage sounding while Full Frequency range mode has a more modern, brighter, clearer tone. In either mode, you can easily avoid ‘pumping’ or unwanted transients with the external ATTACK & RELEASE controls, even on high compression. One of the greatest features of the ORANGE mode is the playful interaction with the guitar’s pickups which makes playing feel really pleasant. In order to experience that feeling, you’ll need to use it first in the chain and avoid any kind of buffers in front of it. Think of it as a great vintage Fuzz, if you use it right, it will sound right!
One essential improvement from the original design is an added PREAMP attenuation/gain control. This ensures that you can use various low or high output pickups, single coils or humbuckers. For example, in order to achieve a longer sustain, it was sometimes necessary to boost the guitar signal going into a compressor. In that case, the magical impedance interaction between the guitar’s pickups and the Front-end circuit was gone. That’s why in our Module 4 the PREAMP stage is placed after the Front-end circuit, so you can easily adjust compression level to your needs, while keeping the original ‘Orange’ feel unaffected.
We have also included a very useful BLEND control; it sets the mix of dry/compressed signals. You can balance the tone with this smooth parallel compression circuit, while retaining pick attack dynamics. OUTPUT control (make-up gain) is a high headroom clean boost, useful for pushing your amp harder and adding even more sustain to your tone.
Do you want a more rounded, darker tone or high-end sparkle harmonics? The TONE control is tweaked just to the right frequencies, for a wide spectrum of usage on any guitar or any amp. Also, we have added the LOW END cut option which allows you to remove certain low-end frequencies.
If you look at the silkscreen on the pedal’s front panel, you will find dot marks around the knobs. Well, when the control knobs are set to those dot marks and the ORANGE button is ON, Module 4 faithfully provides all the tonal flavors of the original! Also, those dots are a great starting point to explore the Module 4’s various possibilities.
To make it even more versatile, we have included the powerful EXPANDER so you can easily remove any trace of noise and hum from your tone. You’ll be surprised how quiet the noise level becomes! The expander’s fade operation will automatically attenuate incoming background noise when you mute strings or vice versa.
Even with the added TONE control, the noise floor of the Module 4 is more than 10dB lower than the original. Even without the Expander enabled! This is one of the quietest takes on this classic vintage compressor.
The included 3-color compression level meter gives you a nice visual representation of gain reduction. When a signal appears, it lights up green, then fades-to-orange for moderate compression, and the color changes to red with hotter signals showing that you are getting the strongest compression.
That is not the end of the Module 4’s usability list. We have added two bypass options to the pedal. You can choose between true and buffered bypass modes with a simple push of the switch. The pedal comes in classic buffered, smooth and ultra-silent bypass by default. Switch to true bypass operation if you use another pedal that has to be connected directly to the guitar (like fuzz). For example, if your Module 4 is in true bypass mode, it can still be physically located first in the chain and it won’t interfere with your fuzz pedal.
One additional feature of the buffered bypass mode is that the ORANGE button can also work when the pedal is turned off. In this case, the buffered bypass reacts like the Orange Squeezer’s Front-end, keeping the bypass EQ very similar to the EQ when the pedal is active (you can read more about this in our technical article). You will find it helpful for resolving certain pedalboard buffer EQ issues, when using various pedals in the chain. It’s a pretty cool feature, give it a go! 🙂
And to push things even further, for the first time in DryBell history, we’re using our custom-made aluminum enclosure and our own specially designed silent switching system.
Compressor is one of those effects that once you try it, you’ll question how you ever lived without it. It can do so many great things, making the soft parts louder and the loud parts softer while adding sustain or changing your EQ, making it ideal for funk, country chicken-pickin’ tones and many other different styles. And it’s not designed for guitar only, it will sound great on bass, keyboards and vocals. We have tested it in many applications with great success.
Whether you choose to use it as a subtle always-on tone enhancer, dynamic changer or as a very powerful booster, the compressor is a must-have pedal in any gear arsenal and the Module 4 will help you experience the best of its kind.
We are always doing our absolute best to design good sounding, road tested and user friendly pedals, with really useful features.
The best thing about this job is having the opportunity to provide you with pedals of both musical and practical value. We are very proud of our entire Team, who are always making things the best they can and the best way they know, evolving with every new product.
With all that being said, it has been a challenging but fun almost two year journey for us and now it’s up to you to try the Module 4 for yourself. A burst of inspiration is guaranteed! 🙂
We simply can’t explain everything that we’d like to tell you about the Module 4 in this introduction. You can read more about the pedal in this article.
A gift for you!
Within each Module 4 box purchased directly from DryBell, you will find a nice gift for you – a handmade leather DryBell keychain pick-holder!
Try the Module 4!
When you purchase Module 4 pedal from the DryBell website or from the DryBell’s shop on Reverb.com, your pedal is shipped directly from our workshop in Krapina, Croatia. Overseas delivery time is approx. 2-3 working days with insured expedited shipping options of your choice – DHL, UPS or FedEx.
Depending on the time of purchase, your package is shipped the same or the next working day. We accept payments via PayPal and wire transfer.
So, order your Module 4 now, you won’t be disappointed! 🙂
Your DryBell Team
P.S. If for any reason you are not fully satisfied with your pedal, don’t forget you can always return it for a full refund within 14 days of receipt. You can keep your DryBell pick-holder gift.
P.P.S. If you are one of those people who likes to read more about the product you are interested in, you will find some cool stuff about the pedal’s development in this article, a little bit about DryBell over the last two years, some technical details and how the DryBell Team created this whole idea.
Demo by Brett Kingman
Demo by Pete Thorn
Demo by Andy Martin
Demo by Perfecto De Castro
Demo by Mike Hermans
Demo by Alberto Barrero
Demo by Philip Czarnecki
Demo by Mick Hayes
Demo by Tinkercity Music
Good or bad, we love them all, so if you’re tried the new Module 4, please give us your honest feedback. Thank you!
American producer, artist and musician, best known for his association with Pink Floyd and, more specifically, its guitarist David Gilmour and former member Roger Waters.
“I think I may use compression in a very different way from how I believe most people do. Maybe I’m wrong. I like lots of it, but not on the attack.
The most important qualities I listen for are…
1) the integrity of the signal
2) a lack of makeup ramp
3) the signal seems to get much bigger rather than sounding squashed
4) versatility-I use a wide range of instruments, so it has to have a lot of adaptability & tweakability
5)personality-I don’t want transparency, I like it to have grab and its own sound
DryBell’s Module 4 is all of those things and more.
Yes, it can do Orange Squeezer brilliantly, but so much in addition.
I highly recommend it.
I really love this pedal.
I’ll definitely be using it on our upcoming European tour.”
San Pedro CA, USA
“The Unit67 has been my (almost) always on, ALWAYS make everything sound better secret weapon for the last few years. Then I got a Module 4… I’ve never found a compressor that I could truly get along with until the Unit67- and I like the Module 4 even better. How can it be this good???
The Module 4 provides the perfect clean tone. It also sweetens an already great overdriven tone into excellence, without any drawbacks that conventional compressors might add. You still have touch sensitivity, you still have dynamics. What you don’t have is noise.
Stevenson Ranch, CA, USA
“Well the first part of my feedback should be obvious; it’s great to not have to worry about what instruments I can or can’t plug my original Dan Armstrong Orange Squeeze into, especially since my main instrument these days is a Strat!! But all kidding aside, I absolutely love the Module 4. It’s got everything I really liked about my Orange Squeezer and a whole lot more!
The biggest thing for me is that the Module 4 can provide me that big round warm Orange Squeeze compression and it just sounds so accurate! Or it can be quickly switched to FFR (still getting the hang of the push and hold by-pass control features) and change the whole vibe of the pedal.
And I gotta say that the killer modern compressor tones are just as fantastic. Being someone whose always used Compressors first in my signal chain, the Module 4 just works perfectly with my rig. I’ve gotta say that the pedal was really really well thought out too. I especially love how I can use it to boost single coil output while removing extraneous noise yet get such beautiful note sustain. And the FFR side of the pedal provides that more modern sparkling clean compression. It really is two Compressors in one unique (and cool) enclosure. I could go on but I think the easiest thing to say is “Well Done”…..and I LOVE it!!!
Cheers from your biggest DryBell fan in Sonoma, CA 🙂 ”
The playing feel is very nice and the sound is absolutely stunning. It’s also very tweakable, from subtle compression to heavy squash, it’s all in there. And, of course, it has a lot of character.
It’s a brilliant design, all the extra controls make perfect sense. So far, I’ve used it for recording guitar and bass and the results are simply amazing, it sounds gorgeous.
I’m certainly going to try it with other sources as well.
The Module 4 is definitely one of the best compressor pedals available – if not the best!”
Every time I see that orange button light up I get excited to play. Thanks for another great design!”
A big thank you to your whole team!”
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