Price paid: $ 100
Sound — 8
I use this with a PRS guitar with humbuckers and a Fender 2X12 tube amp as a tone-shaping and gain adding tool, not as a standalone pedal. I thought it would replace the gain channel on my amp, which is too muddy for my taste although I do like it's overall character. I was wrong. The pedal directly into the clean channel sounds shrill, squeely and artificial, downright nasty on any setting. So I run it only on the amp's Drive channel. Used that way, I immediately notice more clarity, tightness and a wide range of gain that can take me from classic rock or blues into metal. The color knob according to the instructions shifts from Overdrive to distortion. But according to my ear, it's really a mid and treble boost/cut. The further pushed to the distortion side the less mids and more treble you have, but nicely because it doesn't reduce your vol. Or ability to cut through the mix that much. That knob combined with the pedal's own tone knob (low/high) and the traditional three ones on the amp, allows for serious tone-shaping options. If you have the color knob all the way to overdrive, it sounds remarkably similar to a tubescreamer and great for classic rock. In fact, I tried it in the store directly alongside a TS9 and arrived at the conclusion that this Boss was the same thing with the distortion sound added to it, so I got this. To put things into perspective, I also thought the tubescreamer sounded like crap straight into the clean channel so it's safe to say I would use any distortion/overdrive pedal only as an aid to my amp.
Overall Impression — 8
I've been playing for over 15 years and play several styles but with the setup mentioned here I do blues, classic rock, hard rock and heavy metal. I think for harder types of metal, this probably isn't brutal enough but for the others it's great. I would suggest running a Compressor and noise gate in front of it though, as it is a bit noisy. I compared this to the tubescreamer, other Boss pedals and ones by Digitech, in addition to some digital modelling effects. The verdict: if you have a nice tube amp and want to compliment it, this is the ticket. Either this exact pedal or one similar; they are all pretty much the same among the quality peers. But if you plan to run it standalone, just don't. Get a multieffects box with digital modelling instead. It will give you a much more realistic tube overdrive/distortion sound.
Reliability & Durability — 10
Boss pedals are all built like tanks so they can take nuclear war. I'd gig without a backup sure, but would have spare batteries or a powersupply. But the thing actually eats through batteries slowly compared to other pedals I have, such as a chorus also by Boss that eats though batteries like there's no tomorrow.
Ease of Use — 10
It is easy enough to use but not necessarily easy to get a good sound out of it. You don't need a manual as it is pretty self explanatory. As far as pedals go, as easy as it gets. I'm rating it 10 in this section because I'll address the ease of getting a good sound in the following section.