Price paid: $ 168
Purchased from: Pro Guitar Shop
Sound — 10
The versatility of this pedal is astounding, but first let me describe my current set up: My main amplifier is a 40 watt Marshall JCM 2000 DSL-401, I tend to use slightly scooped EQ settings with the bass set around 6-7, the mids at 4-5 and the treble at 6-8. I exclusively use the clean channel on this amplifier combined with various pedals to achieve my desired sound. For the purposes of this review, I'm going to use my upgraded Schecter Gryphon w/ a Seymour Duncan SH-2 Jazz and a Seymour Duncan SH-4 JB humbucker combo for reference. The sound of the Xotic AC Booster is phenomenal and does exactly what it is described to do: deliver transparent boost on some settings as well as smooth, mellow Overdrive on others. If you are looking for heavy, high gain distortion, this pedal by itself is not for you. On it's own, the AC is a very "wholesome" sounding overdrive/booster which can be used to either generate a subtle effect on your tone (increased headroom, fuller bass/treble, boosted volume etc.) or noticeable low gain distortion which is perfect for bluesy sounding rhythms. However, the AC Booster can also be used with pedals such as the Electro Harmonix Metal Muff to create deeper sounding distortion that retains (and even promotes) note clarity which tends to be lost on high gain settings.
Overall Impression — 10
The Xotic AC Booster is a great standalone pedal for blues, and when paired with a distortion pedal such as the Metal Muff it's great for heavier genres. When compared to the Way Huge Pork Loin, the AC Booster is easier to use (no annoying internal trim pots), more versatile (the Pork Loin seems to be limited to relatively subtle uses whereas the AC can be used in both subtle and distinct manners) and takes up much less pedal board space (it's about the size of a MXR Phase 90). The facts that the AC Booster comes in a modest white box, is painted in simple yellow and has a hand written serial number (#8145) are testaments to its quality and craftsmanship, here there is no need for fancy packaging or overly-complex designs because the excellent tone of the pedal speaks for itself. As my first boutique pedal, the AC Booster stands head and shoulders above anything else I've used, particularly the Way Huge Pork Loin (which is the same price as the AC Booster). I know that my "across the board" ratings of 10 may seem somewhat suspicious, but this pedal truly deserves them. I've been playing guitar for 5 years now and plan to continue playing throughout my life, although I frequently trade and sell other pedals to make space for new ones, the Xotic AC Booster is definitely going to stay on my board throughout the years.
Reliability & Durability — 10
Xotic has housed the AC Booster in a durable metal enclosure with several coats of yellow paint and shellac/urethane. Better yet, It's hand-wired and built in the USA, so you know that it's quality and durability is going to be well above that of the average OD pedal.
Ease of Use — 10
This is an extremely straight forward pedal. There are four controls which can be manipulated; treble, bass, volume and gain-- basically your standard Overdrive pedal settings. For those of you who don't like to mess around with your OD settings for hours on end this is the pedal for you. However this is not to say that the AC Booster can't be fine tuned to achieve a very specific sound.