• Pros: Exceptional sustain to noise ratio. It also features a very useful blend control.
• Cons: The grit knob is of questionable value.
• Overall: This is a very high quality pedal that includes features that make it easy to get very transparent compression.
The Pigtronix Philosopher’s Tone is a high-end compressor with a couple of unique features. Unlike most compressors, it sports a blend knob that allows users to mix their dry signal with the pedal’s compressed output. The Philosopher’s Tone also offers on-board distortion with its ‘grit’ control. Overall, the build quality of this pedal was very high. The LED on the one I tested was not centered well in its bezel, but I noticed no flaws otherwise.
Pigtronix makes many high claims about the capabilities of the Philosopher’s Tone in its promotional materials. Chief among these is the pedal’s purportedly exceptional sustain to noise ratio. I am happy to report that I found the Philosopher’s tone to be remarkably quiet even at very high levels of compression. In my opinion, Pigtronix delivers on this promise. The Philosopher’s Tone was awesome for adding subtle compression to clean tones. The blend control is really useful for these applications, offering the ability to add sustain and consistency while maintaining the dynamic qualities of the dry signal. The blend knob was also a very valuable tool for dialing in beautiful distorted tones when I placed the Philosopher’s tone in front of a couple of distortion boxes. This pedal makes it easy to find a sound that has the right balance of sustain, dynamics, and consistency.
Despite its lack of an attack knob, the Philosopher’s Tone also gets funky! The tone knob can help make a really spanky strumming tone even without an attack control. Once again, the blend knob opens up a lot of possibilities here that would be difficult to obtain otherwise. This pedal was an awesome aid for producing a variety of rhythm sounds, though there are some instances where a less transparent compressor may be preferable.
The Philosopher’s Tone also includes a ‘grit’ knob that adds distortion to your signal. I found this distortion to be far too saturated for my purposes. Nearly all the usable settings I found had the grit knob turned all the way off. I tried the pedal using both the included 18v power supply and my own 12v power supply, and noticed little difference in the character of the provided distortion. The Philosopher’s Tone stands out from the crowd in its ability to compress your tone without being an overbearing presence, not in its ability to double as a dirt box.
Pigtronix Philosopher’s Tone Demo