Price paid: $ 45
Purchased from: Music Go Round
Sound — 8
The sound is a really good tone if you have it set up perfect. It's not heavy enough to be metal and not fuzzed out enough to be Grunge. Just a good hard rock tone. I like it on: level - 4 o'clock, tone - 2 o'clock, dist - all the way up and put on Mode II. Above anything else, I'd say both tones that this device offers are reminiscent of early Black Sabbath from around the Paranoid era. I am using it with a Washburn Maverick BT4, an Epiphone Les Paul Junior, a Behringer GMX212 and a little Peavey 15 watt practice amp. I also have the king of all distortion pedals, an Electro-Harmonix Big Muff Pi USA. It's has a little bit of background fuzz when nothing's being played. A little more than my Big Muff. Kurt Cobain used this around the In Utero era, so it kind of gets a Nirvana tone. He used: level all the way up, tone at 11 o'clock, distortion all the way up and on Mode I. The Boss Metal Zone and Mega Distortion both offer more distortion than this but they are both very metal sounding and not very flexible for playing other genres. The DS-1 sounds pretty similar to this and gives a tone which is inbetween Mode I and Mode II on this. Mode II on the DS-2 has more distortion than the DS-1 has though. On my 15 watt Peavey, I can put it at about 1 o'clock and it sounds perfect. I think that amp is a little busted because I've been harsh on it, it has almost no lows. On my Behringer GMX212 with two 50 watt Jensen speakers, I have to put this thing at about 3 o'clock to get the same tone. One other thing I noticed about the tone is that it sounds like there's a presence dial on it which is turned down to about half. My Big Muff Pi rips through crystal clear while this thing makes my amp sound like it's behind a wall. A little tweaking with the amp and the pedal though and this can be improved a bit. Mode I - a nice amount of distortion with a big amount of added lows. Mode II - noticeably louder than Mode I with more highs, more distortion and a lot more fuzz. This is really where the good tones can be found. I like Nirvana, Pink Floyd, Husker Du, Primus, Dinosaur Jr, Mudhoney, Melvins, Sonic Youth, Smashing Pumpkins, Meat Puppets, Velvet Underground, Minutemen, Black Flag, The Cows, Flipper, Big Black, and those kinds of bands. This pedal can get similar tones to these artists because it gives off a really good tone is commonly heard in rock music.
Overall Impression — 8
I play a lot of grungy stuff, like Mudhoney + Primus + early Husker Du. I got this used, which is why it was only $45. I was originally looking for a DS-1 until I saw this at my favorite music store, Music Go Round in Richfield, Minnesota. Talk to Jim there, he's a real nice fella. Even though it is a good pedal, I just don't think it is worth $80 at all. For that price, you can get an Electro-Harmonix Big Muff Pi USA, which is easily the greatest distortion pedal ever made. Try it out, the tone is absolutely incredible and it has infinite possibilites. Used is the best way to get the DS-2. If you can't find a used one, get a DS-1 for $40 instead.
Reliability & Durability — 10
It is pretty sturdy although I wouldn't mash it. I've heard it's super reliable. I think it totally drinks batteries though, I have an adaptor. It's kind of goofy that it'll drain the battery if you leave the input wire plugged in. I've heard if you leave the input wire in overnight the battery will be pretty much dead. It does come with a 5 year warranty if you buy it new though I think. I'd use it on a gig without a backup. What real musician has enough money to buy 2 of the same distortion pedals?
Ease of Use — 8
Very easy to use. The knobs. Level - about 3 o'clock is a normal volume. I love that you can make the distortion super loud compared to clean when it's off, which is something you can't do on some pedals! Tone - probably what you'll be adjusting the most. All the way to the right has a lot of highs but still some lows, which it probably shouldn't have when you turn it there. As you turn it to the left, the highs gradually get removed. Lows aren't added, highs are just removed, which I think is pretty cheap. Anything left of 12 o'clock on it is a completely muffled tone. Dist - I will never put this at anything but full. I think this knob should probably go up a little more, sometimes the distortion sounds like it's only 3/4 of the way up but it's all the way up. Turbo - it's two pedals in one!