Tonecraft Audio

Toneloc Level-Loc Compressor Colour


The Shure Level-loc was a cheap, brick-wall limiter made in the '60s which seemed destined to languish in junk bins and obsolete public address systems. However, it's distinctive, trashy character earned it a second life as a secret weapon in the racks of 90's/2000's mixing engineers. And once the word got out that the Level-loc was behind some famously flavorful drum sounds, it's used price ballooned to $200-300.

Tonecraft Audio's John Erickson, of A-Designs Pacifica fame, has packed the Level-Loc circuitry into a Colour module, the Toneloc. The Toneloc recreates the Level-loc's peculiar attack/release time constants and dense distortion character.

As it contains all the circuitry of a full compressor, the Toneloc is an advanced kit recommended for experienced builders.

MKII Improvements

The Toneloc mkII contains the exact same circuitry that made the original such a popular Colour, with an added Release option and easier assembly.

The mkII version features a solderless jumper to select between two release times. FST is the default option which matches the behavior of the original unit. SLO is slower than the original release time, and will make the compression smoother and less aggressive. Part of the character of the Toneloc is that the release time varies based on the input level, so there is no single time constant for either setting.

The Toneloc mkII uses surface-mount resistors and ceramic capacitors. These parts come pre-populated, making the assembly process much faster and easier than the original.

Customer Reviews

Based on 5 reviews
Daniel Vogel
Awesome colour module!

Love this one, adds nice punch and grit - you can really get some nasty tones!

Crunchy, punchy, tame impala sound

I’m obsessed with tame impala, okay. If you’ve read into his production technique at all, you’ve probably learned of the shure level loc like i did. It’s not an incredibly expensive piece of gear, but more than i would probably spend for such a specific effect. Well, this is the answer. The analog warmth and nonlinear crunch is way better than any level loc VST clone. I’ve tried it on drums and bass so far and it’s a great little thing to add some depth and life to a recording. It’s definitely one of the harder ones to build. Everything is jam packed on this board but once you finish it up it’s so satisfying. Amazing what DIYRE wss able to fit on this board and the sound is incredible.


Very cool colour module! I thought it was not too hard of a build, but did require a lot of time to make. The build guide is 100% necessary for part placement and identifying locations on the board (the DIYRE documentation has never been anything but AWESOME!...on any kit I have built from this company). Take your time with this build and you be very happy with the results. Sounds fantastic on my mono room drum mic!!!

I need another one

The component numbers on the PCB are totally illegible even with a magnifying glass so had to use process of elimination to get the resistors in. But it works and sounds glorious! It begs stereo usage so I'm getting another. The rich low mid distortion is yummy.


Beginner builder. Worked first time. Really tasty on drums and elec guitar. Starts out more open (with low input settings) than I expected in a good way - but is a great destroyer.

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