Sound — 7
DigiTech's Production Modeling technology is designed to model not only the amplifier, but the other facets of the recording process as well, e.g., the microphone, preamp, mixing board, etc. Clapton's early "woman tone" is one of the most recognizable in rock music, but I felt that the Crossroads pedal fell a bit short on that. Granted, a microchip will never fully replicate the interaction between a guitar and amp, but I have heard better tones out of these types of pedals. The "Badge" setting, however, was very spacious, and the Leslie rotating speaker effect was spot-on. The "Layla" model was much closer to that song's recorded sound, and the "Layla Unplugged" acoustic simulator was also impressive. I must point out that Clapton did not have the benefit of "Production Modeling" technology when he recorded his classic tones -- he set his amp the way he liked it, and the tone was colored somewhat by the rest of the recording process. Many young players today mistakenly try to replicate the recorded tone of their guitar heroes, not realizing that standing in the room with Clapton's amp rig would sound much different than the tone that ended up on the record. Also, I am a bit puzzled that no wah capability was included with this pedal, like with the Hendrix one. Wah was an important part of many of Clapton's most popular songs. Why not add a wah or two?
Overall Impression — 7
I just can't get that excited about the Crossroads pedal. After having so much fun with the Brian May Red Special pedal last week, this one pales a bit in comparison. Eric Clapton is no less important a player, and he has some unbelievably cool tones on tape, but the Crossroads pedal doesn't offer much that's new. Most of the tones odeled on this pedal can be achieved with an Overdrive pedal. To me, the real strength of this concept is for silent recording. If you're trying to demo an idea in an environment that is not volume-friendly, this is just the ticket. Plug it into your recorder and you're ready to go.
Reliability & Durability — 8
This is a brand-new pedal, but I have a great deal of experience with DigiTech gear. Their pedals are built very well, and you can expect many years of trouble-free use from it.
Ease of Use — 8
The DigiTech Eric Clapton Crossroads pedal is laid out simply: knobs for Level, Control 1, Control 2, and Model. It has an output jack designed to plug into an amp, and another designed to feed a mixer/PA or recording input. Both can be used simultaneously, eliminating the need to mic your amp in a Live performance situation. The Control knobs have different functions depending on which model is selected; Control 1 is Gain and Control 2 is Tone on most of the models. It would be a good idea to have the manual handy until you're more familiar with the pedal's settings.