Ease of Use: The Zvex Machine, the most disgusting and vile distortion pedal that has ever walked the earth. This pedal is definetly in the ranks with the Fender Blender, Roland Beebaa and the Ampeg Scrambler as a pedal that will rip your face off like no other. How to get a good sound out of it, getting a good sound with this pedal completely depends on your definition of "good sound". If you're after an Eric Johnson or Shawn Lane type of tone, look elsewhere. If you love the chaotic guitar sounds of Nine Inch Nails, Sonic Youth and Robert Fripp, then you'll probably like this pedal a lot.
I'm not really sure on how to rate this pedal, because some people are going to think that it sounds like utter shit. I, on the other hand, love great vintage tones but am looking for something different. I'm going to rate it a 5, because if you like the sound of the Machine, you'll easily be able to get a myriad of other sounds out of it. There are three controls: In (the amount of input gain, or preamp gain), Limit (which clips the original waveform off at about the same size as the harmonics), and Out (Volume). This pedal is the first distortion pedal to use crossover distortion. It sounds horrible (as in horribly awesome) by itself, but running it in front of another distortion pedal will wake it up and produce one of the most fierce distortions ever concieved.
The Machine comes with: the first crossover distortion generator for guitar. Handbuilt construction, all analog design. Lifetime warranty, even if the product is used. // 10
Sound: I'm using this pedal with a Diezel VH4S and two Gibson Les Paul Customs. It is very difficult for me to describe the sound of this pedal. This is the craziest of the crazy, the weirdest pedal in the Zvex pedal line. There is a video on www.Zvex.com, but it really doesn't capture the "heft" of this pedal, and the nasty sounds that it produces. Most people don't run it by itself, seeing how it produces an ear-splitting, harsh distortion. But lets say that you have an old distortion pedal that just doesn't sound all that great. Maybe you liked it once, or maybe you never liked it at all. Throw the Machine in front of the pedal, and listen to it now.
The Machine will create a whole new set of harmonics with your pedal (or amp's distortion) and cut like a hot knife through butter. Trust me, you'll be able to tell when its on. Live, I'm able to nail caustic guitar tones off of The Downward Spiral and The Fragile, tones that took months upon months to complete in the studio. If you play industrial, this is the pedal to own. If you play noise rock, the subtle settings grate, squeel and scream like no other pedal. I've even been able to get synthesizer ray gun sounds out of it. This pedal is nuts! // 10
Reliability & Durability: Zachary Vex has lifetime warranties on all of his products, even if they're used. If something goes wrong, he's there to fix it and have it back to you ASAP. He has great customer support and really will go the extra mile for you. // 10
Overall Impression: The Machine is a very strange, strange pedal. If you're looking to wake up your rig with a different sound, try this pedal out, and don't look back. // 10