Sound — 2
The guiding question above, however, was "how easy is it *to get a good sound*" (emphasis added), which is a different story altogether. Now, in fairness to Boss, this is only my experience, and I'm not using top-of-the-line equipment here -- Fender MIM Strat, Crate GLX30 (solid-state), and the cheap plastic cables the store threw in for free. But I must be blunt here: Every setting I've tried has sounded absolutely awful. First of all, I bought this because my amp's built-in distortion is extremely heavy and has quite sensitive controls. This pedal is entirely the opposite way; I usually had the 'Drive' setting between 1/4 and 1/2 of the way up before I could hear anything noticable. Even turned all the way up, with 'Color' set at solid distortion, it's nowhere near as heavy as my amp at Drive 2 or 3 -- this is not a metal distortion pedal. It isn't even classic/hard rock heavy, although part of that may be because I have all single coils and not humbuckers. My main complaint, however, is the way this pedal screws with the guitar's tone. Again, this may just be cheap cabling, but simply plugging in the pedal -- without turning it on -- takes out most of the bass and mids, resulting in a sharp, unpleasant trebly tone. Since another thing I liked about a pedal was switching between clean/dirty tones on a whim, the interference here -- again, turned off and on a completely clean sound -- was a real deal-breaker. Furthermore, when turned on, the Drive mainly affects the treble sound, regardless of how you set the tone controls. I can understand that a combo pedal would hardly be the best of either world, but this to me is simply unacceptable by any standard.
Overall Impression — 3
This is a very well-designed, usable, and practically indestructible pedal that, unfortunately, is unusable for its terrible sound. It makes sense that it would sound awful on cheap equipment, of course, but in a sense it's kind of odd, too -- after all, a combination pedal would appeal to cash-strapped musicians such as myself Who couldn't afford two great pedals, but at least could buy one OK-ish one. Again, this is just my experience, and if you've gotten a good sound, more power to you. However, I personally cannot recommend this pedal. Considering Boss's pretty good reputation, I frankly expected better.
Reliability & Durability — 10
On the bright side, this pedal has suffered quite a bit of abuse resulting from my, erm, frustration in finding a good sound. I have yet to so much as dent the casing. If it weren't for the rather fundamental flaw detailed above I'd happily gig with it with no more backup than a spare 9v battery.
Ease of Use — 10
The controls on this pedal are extremely easy to use. There is a manual, but you won't need it except maybe the back where you can write in your favorite settings for later use. Basically you've got the usual three level/tone/drive controls, plus a fourth that lets you dial in light Overdrive, heavy distortion, or -- and this is where the pedal really stands out -- anything in between. Very simple.