Price paid: € 359
Purchased from: Bax-shop.nl
Ease of Use — 9
The layout of the sliders and buttons is very intuitive, finding something that sounds good is therefore quite easy. This is a very open ended pedal, so the only real limitation is your imagination. This also means that, although it's (almost) knob per function, the possibilities are endless and you'll have to spend a lot of time experimenting. I consider this a good thing though, actually is probably why I bought it at all. If you want something similar with, minus the experimenting, a POG2 would be more appropriate. Without any other hardware, you can save and load a single preset. With the optional (and expensive!) foot controller you get 100 presets. MIDI however, gives you access to 127 presets, so I would recommend using either a small midi controller with it, or saving and loading presets from your computer. The manual is clear and consize, as it should be.
Sound — 9
I mostly play experimental guitar music, (think John Haughm/Barn Owl). On its own, it's not too special, although using it as an octaver through an overdriven amp/fuzz sounds very good. I mostly use it with delay (Flashback X4) and my amp's (Blackstar HT5-R) build-in reverb, this is where it really shines. It can make you're guitar sound like something completely different, such as an organ or flute, but can also be used to add some subtle harmonic content, or some background textures in a soundscape. The variety of sounds it can make is huge, even more so when controlling it with MIDI.
The +3 and +4 octave intervals sound a bit glitchy/artificial, without proper filtering. I'm not sure if this is a consequence of extreme pitch-shifting (any noise is also shited 3 or 4 octaves up, so 50 Hz becomes 400 or 800 Hz), or the algorithms/converters.
Tracking is perfect, no complaints at all. It can be a little noisy, although I have to admit that my whole set-up is a bit noisy, I don't think it's a major issue though. The resonant filter is amazing, and adds a ton of flexibility.
Reliability & Durability — 6
It doesn't feel very sturdy. The paint/decal below the sliders can easily get damaged is the sliders are pushed on too hard (i. E. When moving them with your foot). Still, it doesn't feel like it will fall apart in a few years. The included "next step" expression pedal does feel very sturdy, although I'm having some trouble powering it (could be an issue with the cheap daisy chain I'm using). Overall I would say that the build quality is sufficient, but could be much better, especially for the price.
Overall Impression — 8
The HOG2 is great for experimental music, I use it daily and couldn't live without it anymore :) Comparing it to anything else is quite hard, as there's nothing quite like it. The POG2 gets close, but doesn't have nearly as many harmonic intervals, the freeze-gliss, MIDI implementation, or an expression input. The only thing I miss is a freeze slider: setting the freeze function to a fixed value adds a lot of possibilities. The included expressions pedal will not stay in any other position than its resting position. Furthermore, I want to use the expression pedal for something else, like the filter. This is easily solved through MIDI cc messages, but it would be nicer to have a slider for it on the unit.
I have looked at other guitar synthesizers, like the Boss SY-300. In comparison, the HOG2 is very open ended while the SY-300 is really made to sound like a synthesizer. As I'm interested experimenting with new sounds, rather than making my guitar sound like a synth, the HOG2 suits me better. As for the SY-300: I would much rather get an actual analog synth for the same price or less.
Another thing to consider is the size: it is a lot of sliders, so it has to be big. There's nothing EHX can do to resolve this, but know that it will take a lot of space on your pedalboard.
A note on the price: For unknown reasons, the price went up from 359 to 525 euros a few months after I bought mine. The only reason they get away with it, is that there's no real competition, if you want something like this, there's no other option. At the price I paid, it almost felt like a bargain when you consider the included expression pedal (which is also sold separately for 104 euros at the moment).
Although the next step expressions pedal works fine, it still feels gimmicky and doesn't add any functionality over a normal expression pedal. I wish they had either included a normal expression pedal, or none at all (and dropped the price a bit). I do feel that an expression pedal is a crucial part of the HOG2 though.
To conclude: it's may be expensive and has its flaws, but the HOG2 has become a vital part of my setup. It gave me inspiration for a lot of songs and I have spend countless hours having fun experimenting with it. I highly recommend the HOG2 for experimental music (not just guitars!), provided you already have a few effects to use with it (mostly delay or reverb). If it where stolen or lost I would buy it again.