Price paid: $ 199
Purchased from: Sweetwater.com
Ease of Use — 9
The knobs are all clearly labeled and they do exactly what you'd expect them to do. Didn't need the manual at all. Taking a point off because I had to mess with my amp's EQ to get the exact sound I wanted but the version with the built-in EQ would receive a 10 rating.
Sound — 7
This pedal is designed to replicate a Dual Rectifier's amp distortion in a stomp box design. Therefore it's geared towards the kind of player who is looking for a high gain rock/metal tone. I play mostly punk/rock/metal and I actually own a Dual Rectifier Roadster. So I did a little A/B testing to see how similar the sound is. No stomp box will ever replicate a nice tube amp's sound. Otherwise, there would be no market for expensive tube amps. That said, the throttle box comes pretty close if you're willing to mess with your EQ a little.
With everything set to 12 o'clock the Throttle Box's sound is audibly thinner than the Recto. The distortion reacts in the same way to picking and you get the same kind of breakup, but it just doesn't have the "oompf" that the real deal provides. That's not to say it's a bad sound - the distortion sounds quite good for a stomp box. But it doesn't have quite the same chugga-chugga power as the amp.
Turning the bass up a little on my clean channel and messing with the mids/highs *very slightly* I was able to get a much much better sound out of the Throttle Box, though the distortion just isn't as sophisticated as the real deal. That said, the sound is very good for a stomp box. On the low gain setting, you get (obviously) less gain - good for Green Day type strumming and classic rock tones (think AC/DC). Just adjust the gain knob. On the high gain setting (which you flip a switch to change into) you get a ton of distortion. This is equivalent to the Channel 4 on my Dual Rec Roadster. At about half way the pedal does great Metallica impressions. I was able to get a pretty good lead sound by playing through an Ibanez Tube Screamer into the Throttle Box.
This pedal won't quite get the "Metal Zone" tone for super extreme high gain scooped sounds. So if you want to make Pantera sounds this won't do it. Otherwise it's great. The pedal has a true bypass switch. When it's off you can't tell it's there. When it's on it's fairly quiet and doesn't cause any noticeable noise/humming (this was with a Humbucker). The tone knob was pretty useless in my opinion. Mid scoop can be increased to get more of a scooped sound or rolled back to allow the mids through. Having it around 9 o'clock gave me the closest sound to my actual Dual Rectifier.
So, overall, I'd say the pedal does a decent job emulating my Dual Rectifier but would benefit from an EQ (Mesa Boogie has released a version of this pedal with a built in EQ). It sounds very good compared to other distortion boxes.
Amp: Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier Roadster head
Cab: Mesa Boogie Rectifier 2x12 cab
Guitar1: ESP (not LTD) Eclipse w/ EMG 81 and EMG 60 active pickups
Guitar2: Fernandes Ravelle Elite w/ Seymour Duncan Custom passive pickup and sustainer
Reliability & Durability — 10
This thing is built like a tank. It's quite heavy for a stomp box, actually. Finish seems very durable (more like a powder coat, not paint). Not worried about breaking it. Have it on my pedalboard so it's not really at risk of being dropped or breaking really. Live playing should not be a problem whatsoever. Would probably use it without a backup just because I'm not a professional musician.
Overall Impression — 8
I play rock/metal/punk. I own a Dual Rectifier Roadster but wanted to have the same kind of sound available in a stomp box for rehearsal studios or other situations where my amp was not available. It's also nice to have a distortion unit in front of my looper (makes the cabling a lot easier than trying to run it through my FX loop). I've been playing for about 14 years and also own a Marshall TSL 60 and a number of other pedals (Boss DS-1, Electro-Harmonix Metal Muff).
I'm fairly satisfied with my purchase. At $199.99 it's expensive for a stomp box, but the sound is much more versatile and sophisticated than the other cheaper boxes I own. If something happened to it, I'd buy it again, but I would get the version with the built in EQ as I do think the pedal would benefit from more low end. If you have room on your pedalboard I would definitely recommend the larger version with the built-in EQ, otherwise you can get away with making some EQ adjustments to your clean channel. They're not drastic enough to ruin your clean tone.