Price paid: $ 90
Purchased from: online
Sound — 10
I use this with a mid 80's Japanese contemporary strat through (occasionally Dunlop wah) SC-2 Hardwire-ProCo Rat2-Small Clone Chorus-Ibanez AD9 Analog Delay- EH Stereo Pulsar (trem) - Korg DT-10 - Peavey Windsor Head on top of a Randall 4x12. As with many pedals, if you jack up all the knobs you will incur some noise, but this is one of the best sounding distortion pedals, it's such a genuinely great sound. And I'm not really sure "noise" is an accurate word, this is just a very powerful pedal. You can tell just by listening to it, that these things are very well put together, very well made. It sounds incredibly smooth. If you dial back all the high end and some of the low, you get an identical sound of Iron Maiden's first (very lo-fi sounding) album. While your amp is on, and volume up, as you start turning either eq knob to the right, you can hear and feel the changes in sound as you turn, so it's very responsive to what you want to find. This replaced my DS-1, and I can easily get that sound with this guy, I can also duplicate my Rat2 (which I basically have at a setting that works really nice as a fuzz). The crunch and saturated switch is nice, the Saturated setting is just that, a thicker degree of distortion/gain. On the crunch setting you can get some nice Overdrive sounds, but I would recommend having the gain no higher than two o'clock if you want a real true Overdrive type of sound. This would be the only knock, if the gain is all the way up, and you switch from saturated to crunch, it just seems like you turned down the level and gain knobs a couple of notches, but hey maybe that works for some people. So Pick an artist, I'm sure you can find that sound or damn close to it with this amazing pedal. I've owned a Peavey Hot foot, a couple of effects processors (which I never will again), my Rat2, and a DS-1, as well as trying many many other distortion pedals, and honestly this is my new favorite so I have to give it a 10.
Overall Impression — 10
I generally play aggressive rock (not metal), some punk influences at times (a Misfit's type sound) to alternative type sounds (Radiohead a la the Bends). I think this could work well for metal players, but always always always try it before you buy it, I don't play metal, so I guess I can't decisively speak for it. I've been playing for around 12 years. I've owned lots of gear over the years, all current stuff has been stated above. I work at a music store so I get the chance to try everything and anything that comes through our store, so I've tried a wide variety of Distortion and Overdrive Pedals, and this is truly my favorite. If this got stolen, I'd replace it eventually, it's pricy for a distortion pedal, but it's truly worth it in my opinion. There isn't really anything I dislike about it, I just love that the knobs have that slight click feel that lets you get really accurate and precise with your overall setting. Like mentioned before, I had a DS-1 which I really loved, but this pedal can re-create that and more. I guess I've been able to recreate most other pedals I've tried with this one, even Overdrive pedals were easy to re-create like a tube Screamer with this pedal set on the Crunch selection switch. Man, I could keep going, what an awesome piece of equipment, I have a pedal crush on this thing for sure, we might get married later this year.
Reliability & Durability — 8
Mentioned that you can tell by the sound how well built this thing is. Same goes for the housing, in fact the metal casing even seems thicker or more dense than Boss stuff, maybe it's just heavier, but it seems incredibly sturdy. The way you access the battery is rather unique too. On either side of the engage (foot) Switch, there are spring loaded hinges. Manual recommends using a 1/4 cable to push them inward, but you could use anything that fit's to the hinge. Anyways, gently push in the hinges and the top pops off for battery access. I'm not saying this is anymore convenient (Boss is really the nicest battery access in my opinion, super easy) it's just unique and nice to see another different feature with a pedal. So it seems rather dependable so far, and I generally always have a back up, hence having my Rat2 in the chain, but if I had too, I'd use it without a backup, but I guess I just always recommend being prepared, I highly recommend having two different distortions or overdrives in your arsenal, it works as a different texture, an easy backup just incase, and you can get some nice feedback while both are engaged if you know what you're doing. I haven't owned it for that long, so I'm giving it an 8 simply because although I haven't had problems, two months isn't a long time to determine how reliable a piece of equipment is, although I'm sure it will be.
Ease of Use — 9
It is pretty simple getting a good sound out of this pedal, and a decent variety too. It's nice how the knobs have a slight click to each turn so you can be real precise. There's a manual for sure, but the knobs pretty much do what they say they do, level for volume, low end, high end and gain knobs. Then there's an additional switch that is a dual setting of either Crunch of Saturated. Oh, the light that goes on while engaged is a beautiful bright blue light, just a different change from standard old red, kind of neat. No upgrades on my pedal, and I don't think I would need an upgrade. I'm giving it a 9 only by virtue of the fact that it might be difficult for beginners to learn how to dial in a wide variety of sounds with this thing right off the bat, just give it a little time, and it's quite easy actually.