Ease of Use: It's easy to get started using the POG -- operation is plug-and-play, the interface itself is very intuitive (everything is a volume fader, with the exception of the LPF fader) and gratification is instant. LPF has three Q modes with three different slopes, rather than a fader or a pot, which makes it rather easy to use. Two of the upper octaves have volume faders for detuned multiples of themselves, which allows the user to add in a non-cyclical chorus. There are no depth knobs for the detuning.
Once the initial "wow factor" wears off, a few issues become apparent in the operation of this pedal. Most of all, it's a bit tough to maintain consistency of tone between your dry signal with the pedal bypassed and the pedal when it is engaged. For instance, one might think would be best to leave the faders around 50% to maintain this consistency, but (at least in my opinion), it's not quite that simple. There is obvious added noise and inconsistency in volume. The dry signal is routed through the low pass filter (LPF), which does not help as far as consistency.
This unit does not "track" your guitar signal the way that a traditional 13-pin guitar synth or a monophonic guitar synth with a VCO (such as an Electro-Harmonix Micro Synth) does, so there are no tracking errors. Again, the unit is plug and play.
In short, it is very easy to plug into this unit and immediately use it (it does one thing, but it does that one thing well) -- however, it is much harder to seamlessly integrate it onto a pedal board if you are at all an audiophile or concerned about added noise. I have my POG sitting behind several gated effects in my chain, so that helps cut down on noise. // 7
Sound: As mentioned above, this unit does not "track" your signal in the same way that a guitar synth/MIDI converter does. It is an octave pedal, (not a synthesizer as EHX is marketing this unit). All octaves are more or less generated via amplifying upper harmonics. As such, even though the unit will "track" chords (unlike other octave pedals), there are some strange, audible artifacts present when very harmonically complex chords are played. The LPF helps attenuate some of these odd-sounding artifacts, which, to me, makes the unit much more usable than it would have been otherwise.
Speaking of the low pass filter, as mentioned above, there are three Q modes, rather than a Q pot or a fader. There is no resonance control for the LPF, either. On any other unit, this would be a huge letdown, but as far as I am concerned, it's fine for this unit, since the purpose of the LPF on this pedal is merely to help attenuate the audio artifacts and noise brought on by the upper harmonics rather than provide a wah-type sound.
The detuned octave faders provide a non-cyclical chorus sound, rather than a delayed chorus sound. There are no depth controls for the chorus. Chorus sounds are generally fairly subtle and seem to work best when all other harmonic faders are employed. Organ sounds are what this pedal does best, given the way the harmonics are generated, and sound excellent when run before a Polychorus for leslie sounds.
The pedal is generally quite noisy. The LPF helps attenuate the noise, but never eliminates it completely. The POG 2 allegedly is much quieter.
If you are running distortion, I would personally run the POG after the distortion, as all of the harmonic content of the distortion would be reproduced by the POG and would sound a bit "bigger." However, there are problems with doing this, especially if you are using your amp's effects loop (the POG has quite a bit of onboard gain on tap).
This is a distinct-sounding pedal, and there is nothing else out there that sounds like it. Once you've played a POG, you will immediately recognize when someone else is playing one on a recording/live/etc, for what it's worth. // 8
Reliability & Durability: I'd definitely gig without a backup, but I'm pretty gentle with my gear. I'm glad to see that EHX is finally switching to die cast boxes -- these old boxes are flimsy. I know a couple of people Who have complained about the faders breaking or the paint flaking off of the unit or the adapter dying (good luck finding a replacement for the beast that comes with this unit, by the way). The newer POG 2 uses a 9 volt Boss PSA-style adapter, but I imagine has much lower headroom. // 7
Overall Impression: Overall, I play quite a bit of ambient in the vein of Stars of the Lid and Windy & Carl, as well as downtempo drone like Bohren Und Der Club of Gore and Earth. This pedal allows me to dramatically manipulate the sound of my instrument, but in such a way that I feel I have to approach my instrument differently and alter the effect with other effects because it is so distinct. I have been playing for over 15 years, and there are no other pitch shifter/octavers on the planet that sounds like this unit.
If the unit were stolen or lost, I would likely upgrade to the newer POG 2, or a HOG (more likely the POG 2). // 8