Price paid: $ 169
Purchased from: Pro Guitar Shop
Sound — 7
I use this with a Belman Double Cutaway Flattop Deluxe (the guitar that is most similar would be a PRS Custom 22 with flamed maple top) and a Squier Strat modded with Texas Specials. The Philo appears second in my chain: Dunlop Orig Crybaby -> Philo -> Ibanez TS9DX -> MXR KFK 10 Band EQ -> MXR EVH Phaser -> Boss DD-20 into a Fender G-DEC Jr (yes, cheap amp, I know). I typically play with headphones to avoid annoying the rest of the house and the neighbours if this makes any difference to you. As with a lot of Compressor pedals, the Philo can be quite noisy. A noise gate will come in handy if you're playing at higher volumes with high gain. My current setting is: grit at 0 (all the way to the left), sustain and blend at 12 o'clock, and treble and volume at 1:30. I've found that it doesn't really do you any justice turning the settings up any higher (at least with my lack of noise gate). The compression, as far as increasing/decreasing volume goes, is quite weak and thus does not go a long way to bringing out pinch harmonics, but purely as a means of increasing sustain, this pedal really does the trick. My Belman hasn't been setup up properly in a long while, but I can potentially get a minute's worth of sustain on a single note with this thing. In terms of tone, I'm trying to go for Petrucci and Mayer, both of whom use a fair bit of compression. The Philo itself doesn't do a whole lot in achieving either for rhythm tones, but this is because it's a compressor, not an EQ or an OD etc. However, for leads, it is a must, at least with my setup. This is probably more an issue of guitar action/intonation etc for me, but I find that now that I've used the Philo, I can't not use it - I simply can't get enough sustain without it. I've given it a 7 because of the noise with high gain + volume, and because of the minimal effect it has on pinches.
Overall Impression — 8
I've been playing guitar, all up now, about 7 years - classical for all of that time, Acoustic for about 5 years and electric for 3. As stated before, I'm trying to achieve Petrucci and Mayer tones, and while this pedal lacks in the volume adjusting component of compression, it is amazing in the amount of sustain it provides. I did actually buy this blindly; I live in Australia and Pro Guitar Shop's price with their Christmas discount, the exchange rate, and the free shipping with the other 3 pedals I got, was far too good an opportunity to pass up. It was a good buy in the end; it does the majority of what I want it to; that was largely to improve sustain. The only thing I really wish it had is a little stronger volume adjusting; the noise is fixable with a noise gate. I was originally set on the Keeley 2 knob compressor, but it was sold out. Around then, NakedInTheRain bought the germanium version of the Philo a bit before I did (but he has since traded it for a Lovepedal Kanji Eternity) and at the time said it was amazing. Ultimately, I ended up with the base model because the germanium model was sold out too. I also considered the Diamond Comp and the Barber Tone Press, but both were a bit pricey. If it were stolen/lost, I'd consider buying it again, but there are some pretty awesome compressors on the market which I would also consider.
Reliability & Durability — 9
I've only had it for just over a month, but it hasn't failed me in any way. Just remember to use the adapter that is supplied as the pedal runs on 18V DC, as opposed to the usual 9V DC for most pedals. I mean, it works with it, but the manual says quite specifically not to. The adapter can be used internationally - the voltage rating specifies 100-240~ V, which basically covers every standard home powerpoint in the world. I would gig without a backup for two reasons (though have yet to): 1. I highly doubt it would die on me 2. Even if it did, it's a compression pedal. I doubt the audience would really notice that much unless they were massive tone junkies... and even then.
Ease of Use — 9
Very straightforward to use - the knobs do exactly what they say: 'grit' adds a little bit of a warm fuzz, 'sustain'.. well that's pretty self-explanatory, 'blend' effectively alters the level of compression (all the way left being none, all they way right being a lot), 'treble' is a high cut/boost, 'volume' is a signal cut/boost. Not much to in from that aspect really. The manual will tell you something similar, and gives you a bunch of presets that work really nicely. I find it's best to use the suggested setting for 'transparent compression' in the manual, and then season to taste depending on the volume you're playing at. The manual also suggests that you can find a perfectly good tone without using the grit knob. This is probably the best advice that it gives.