Price paid: $ 128.082
Sound — 7
I'm using a cheap Kramer strat copy with single coils and a Laney HCM30 amp with this pedal, which probably isn't the best combination, but I can still get some good sounds out of it. One area where this does have a problem is the alleged 'pickup simulator'. It claims that a single coil can be made to sound like a humbucker, and vice versa. A mate of mine plugged his Epiphone Les Paul into it, and we couldn't see any change when we tried to make it sound like a single coil. The noise gate is very good, however-no noise at all from the guitar when I'm not playing. There's a whole load of effects on this, and I'm not going to try and describe all of them. There are a couple that are particularly good, though. The cabinet simulator can create a massively different sound and is an important feature in getting the sound you want. The wah pedal is also quite good, offering Cry (an ordinary Wah), Boutique (with a larger range) and Full (which sweeps all audible frequencies, and sounds rather unpleasant). The pedal itself isn't perfect-it's difficult sometimes to move it precisely-but it's not at all bad, either. The amp models it offers are somewhat weak at times, and tend to sound digital rather than actual. The acoustic guitar model... well, it's not bad, but it's definitely not an acoustic. Best thing to do is to treat it as a separate sound, rather than as an acoustic guitar synth. This pedal is not suited to black, thrash, death or heavy metal. At high levels I find the distortion to be unrealistic and obviously digital. It can give out a good crunch, though, and it does a suprisingly good Judas Priest sound (hardly suprising, as Glenn Tipton created two of the presets). It can do a nice classic rock sound, AC/DC style, and nice clean sounds even up to high volumes, but I've failed to get a realistic Metallica sound. The reverb is OK, basically, but nothing special. It can simulate a range of environments, but not particularly brilliantly. This is a real shame, and could definitely have been done better.
Overall Impression — 7
I tend to play classic rock, hard rock, a bit of metal and some soft rock, and can normally get the tone I want out of this. It's not a Marshall stack, a wah pedal or a cabinet, but it can simulate all of them well enough for me. I've been playing about a year now, and am starting to create my own stuff, and this is definitely useful for choosing your own signature sound. A lot of the effects, and particularly the effects presets, seem rather odd and not really useable, but given how easy it is to make your own this isn't a problem. I wish I'd realised when I bought it that you get one effect at a time (in addition to the compressor, delay, reverb and wah), as I thought I could, say, combine chorus and flanger. This is somewhat of an annoyance, but hey. If this was lost or stolen I'd probably buy another one-it was very cheap for what it can do. My favourite feature is probably the massive delay you can get, or the wah. I compared it to the X-Vamp, a V-Amp 2, and the Line 6 POD, and this won on the range of effects and price. The only thing I wish it had was a way to combine more effects at the same time, particularly chorus with other effects.
Reliability & Durability — 8
This pedal is very solid, with a metal body and a tough expression pedal. The up/down switches are also reliable, and can be depended on. I wouldn't do any sort of large gig without a backup (that's just stupid, even with the best gear) but I can't see it breaking on me unless I put my foot through the display panel. It's been kicked, trodden on, dropped, and abused somewhat, and I trust it considerably. I just wish they gave a longer power chord-it's annoyingly easy to trip over.
Ease of Use — 7
The Matrix setup for this unit is very easy to understand and use, with three knobs to alter settings rather than a complex set of menus. There's 80 presets on it (the box claims 120, but 40 of these are duplicates that you can change) and you can get a good range of sounds without making any changes at all. With some work, I've been able to get the exact sounds I want out of it. The manual is available online and also comes with the pedal, which is handy. It is detailed and gives precise descriptions of what each setting does, what the presets are, and what each effect is (important, because some of them are DigiTech effects).