This is one of the best compressors I have used, up there with the famous Keeley compressor. Sound-wise there are a few things that stand out with Ruby II.
First, it is so easy to dial in some compression, to balance out the loudness and to even produce added sustain and boldness. Second, even when turned up full the degree of squishiness is minimal. Any compressor will add some element of squishiness, and several I have tried also produce a somewhat sterile effect, as though the tone loses life. With Ruby II, even with the compression turned up full the signal maintains a majority of its life, insofar as harmonics and quality (obviously there is some drop in dynamics and evenness of the notes, which is the point of a compressor). The included demo video goes through several clean, slightly dirty and very dirty signals, and although the audible differences may be minimal in some instances (due to YouTube compression), the effect of Ruby II becomes obvious with amps that have a lot of headroom. In the last part of the demo I have Ruby II going into the Sheriff V4 Preamp (by Victory Amps), which produces a Plexi-style sound with some good headroom and dynamics, and it is with that example compression is most noticeable. Two final points about the sound is that the compression is ‘soft’ (making it more pleasant and less harsh to the ear, which is why there’s less sterility and squishiness) and that it is super quiet – no hissing or added noise, even with the compression and volume up.
OVERALL IMPRESSION: Ruby II is not an inexpensive pedal at 189 Euro, but an excellent buy if you’re looking for an easy to use compressor that produces a phenomenal outcome. The Ruby II was designed based on different studio models using optical technology (optocoupler). This VTL5C3 optocoupler provides a soft compression, making it more pleasant to the ear by limiting that highly-squishy and somewhat sterile sound you get from inferior compressors. As well, the integrated OPA2134 integrated circuit is one of the best input circuits dedicated to audio, with the result being an extremely quiet pedal. While other compressors add some noise to the signal as compression and volume increases that is not the case with the Ruby II. As a definite bonus, Ruby II is super easy to use and dial into the right amount of compression – all you need to worry about is how much compression and how much volume for perfect results every time.
GENERAL USE: The Ruby II is surprisingly easy to use, whether working with cleans or distorted signals. Tastes will vary, but I find clean sounds work very well with the Compression around 9-12 o’clock, depending if you want a hint of tightness or more control over the dynamics and overall loudness. Of course, if you want a very tight snap to the notes, e.g., Funk guitar, you can push the envelope upward to full Compression and still retail much of the tone’s character without added noise or sterility. When working with higher-gain signals, the amount of compression (for my liking) does vary. For crunch rhythms I prefer 9-12 o’clock – just enough to have some tightness and to make certain all notes have a more even output. With lead I tend to prefer Compression closer to 1-2 o’clock, since doing so adds to the sustain and boldness of each note (ideal for long-held soulful playing, but also hammering on/off and finger-tapping). The Level (volume) control is not overly finicky. Generally I can keep it around 1-2 o’clock with my current gear set-up, while needing to reduce level/volume slightly only once Compression exceeds 1-o’clock.
OTHER DETAILS: Ruby II is a standard-sized pedal measuring about 113 mm (L) x 67mm (W) x 48mm (H) or 4.4 x 2.5 x 1.88 inches, and weighing 230g/8oz. The heavy-duty metal chassis is powder coated red with dark red/brown graphics, white lettering and black knobs. The two knobs (Compression and Level) are heavy plastic and will withstand normal use and abuse. Both knobs have exceptional quality pots (smooth and very solid when turned without any static or noise). The footswitch (on/off) produces a solid click when engaged or disengaged without any unusual popping or noise. The chassis is a Hammond 159B aluminum case that provides shielding of the electronic card. Under the cover is an OPA2134 input circuit, reputed to be one of the best in audio engineering, making it a very quiet pedal. As well, Ruby II also includes high-end audio components (carbon resistors and Panasonic, Wima and Silver Mica capacitors), true-bypass Neutrik jacks, Alpha 16mm faders, and is protected against overvoltage and reverse polarity. The cable input/output and power supply all are located along the sides, and so some modest care is to be taken when used (to prevent foot slippage and possible chord input/output/power output damage). Ruby II does not run on batteries and requires a 9VDC power supply.