Price paid: A$ 130
Purchased from: Guitar World (WA)
Sound — 9
As mentioned above, I got a great sound as soon as I plugged this thing in. I should say that I use a Gibson Les Paul Studio and a Fender Hot Rod Deluxe. Unlike many pedals I have owned, I immediately loved the tone and didn't have to spend a few days getting used to it. By way of comparison, the pedal sounds very similar to a Keeley Modified DS-1 (the SEM/Ultra mod). When I a/b'd the Keeley and the MXR, I found the MXR to have a fuller sound. That said, the Keeley DS-1 wasn't far behind. The MXR '78 tone has plenty of bottom end but feels tighter than the Keeley DS-1. Compared to the MI Audio Crunch Box, the MXR '78 has less mids. For my ears and my setup, I'd take the MXR '78 over both the Keeley DS-1 and the MI Audio Crunch Box.
Overall Impression — 9
I just love this pedal; I am inclined to say that my search for the ultimate dirt box is over. It is very flexible and will cover tones from mild dirt all the way up to early heavy metal (e.g. Maiden etc) but not thrash. I'm tempted to buy a second one as a spare and/or to run one pedal at low gain and another at high gain. On top of all that, the price is very competitve. Highly recommended.
Reliability & Durability — 9
Looks and feels rock solid, just like most MXR pedals. The crunch button is a little bit dinky but I can't see that being a problem. The pots feel nice with just the right amount of resistance. The Switch is not too notchy. What else can you say about a 3-pot pedal in a bulletproof aluminium housing?
Ease of Use — 9
This has the usual dirt box pots of level, tone and gain (distortion) which should be familiar to everyone. In addition there is the crunch button which gives to pedal a kick in the pants. I tested the pedal with everything set to 12 o'clock and it sounded great immediately.