Price paid: $ 180
Purchased from: Sweetwater
Ease of Use: Solid steel chassis, 5 knobs (Treble, Mid, Bass, Level, and Gain), 1 button. 2 outputs (one a direct out and one a standard output) and one input jack. It doesn't get any easier than this. Okay, maybe an ISP Decimator, but that's besides the point. No need for a manual, but one is provided with some very informative presets and some information on why it is more than just a distortion stompbox. // 10
Sound: The AMT Electronics R-1 Preamp is made to emulate the sound of a Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier, and boy does it ever! I was amazed at what this $200 box can do. So here's how it works. It's a preamp, so the output signal is buffered and it is not advisable to run it directly into the input jack on the front of your amplifier. Ideally, you would put this pedal at the end of your signal chain, and then run it into the effects return on the back of your amp. This pedal is made to be a preamp, so doing this bypasses your amps preamp and replaces it with this. This pedal is dark, it's scary, and any knob configuration is easily usable. Nice punchy lows and smooth mids, along with some Extra Tasty Crispy highs make this a fantastic sounding preamp. My only gripe is that the gain control is pretty much either high gain or no gain. There is a little room for some more overdriven sounds, but the window is a little smaller than I would like.
That being said, this pedal sounds absolutely amazing. Volume roll off cleans up the sound, just like a tube amp, and the level control on the pedal makes it go from whisper quiet to aneurysm inducing loudness. I just cannot get enough of it. // 9
Reliability & Durability: Great solid steel housing and good Solid Metal jacks and jackplates make this thing obviously built to survive. Solid plastic knobs that are smoothly controlled (even with your toes!), and a damn good metal button. This thing has been STOMPED on. It will continue to be stomped on. I'm sure it's just as indestructible as an old Nokia phone. // 10
Overall Impression: With the exception of the gain control not being quite as taper-able (is that a word?) as I would like, this thing does the job it sets out to do, and does it damn well. I have had several people ask me what makes my amplifier sound like a Mesa Boogie, and this little bugger is the trick. I play mostly metal and hard rock, so the gain taper is not that big of a deal, and the tone is amazingly worth it. Couldn't ask for a better tone shaping tool, especially if you have a cheap amp and don't want to shell out $2000 or more for something better. // 9