Price paid: C$ 180
Purchased from: Came in Schecter C-1 ATX
Sound — 10
I had the set included in my Schecter C-1 ATX, and it blew me away. I tried it side by side with EMG's, and I don't think I'll ever buy an EMG pickup again. The amount of output is tremendous; it'll shatter a mid-sized suburban house no problem, and doesn't get muddy even at high volumes. I play it through a Roland Cube 20XL often, but once in a while play using a variety of amps (Dual Rectifier, Engl Retro, Soldano), and it works like a charm in all of them. The tone is very balanced. I play anything from blues, jazz and simple clean fingerpicking, to death metal with accompanying meaty chugs, the Blackouts handle it all. Very versatile and full of tone, it's a beast you'd be happy to own. The bridge is tight and has the needed punch, easily reduced with the volume knob. The neck pickup has the warm, mellow sound, but still enough output that would cut through the mix, which can be blended down via the volume knob. Really balanced set in terms of output and tone, with both pickups being very responsive to hardness of picking.
Overall Impression — 10
I absolutely love this pickup. I've tried Seymour's, DiMarzio's, EMG's, Gibson's, PRS pups, Tom Anderson pups, and plenty more, but the Blackouts rocked my amp and playing like nothing else. The versatility allows me to go from jazzy chords to shredding to bassy chugs with ease, and it never gets muddy. It has the feel of the passive's headroom but provides almost frightening clarity of sound. I have a Cort Viva Gold II, with DiMarzio Tone Zone and Air Norton, and the Blackouts are cleaner than DiMarzios. The Blackouts are installed in the Schecter C-1 ATX, full mahogany body, giving it a tone that doesn't compare to anything else. When picking guitars, I tried a Schecter Hellraiser Extreme C-1 side by side with the ATX (Blackout version) and multiple Jackson and ESP's with EMG's and Seymour Duncans. EMG-filled guitars I threw out in 5 seconds, and set aside the rest a short time later. The Blackouts are one of a kind active pickups, and I realized that when I first played with one. A true beast, but easy to tame for your own playing style.
Reliability & Durability — 9
The pups have black plastic housing, which seem durable enough. Electronics wise, never gave me any trouble. The batteries need replacing every 1500 hours, but it's a minor set back that you accept if you buy an active pickup. Seems durable, and should withstand many conditions. Seymour Duncan quality is known to be at the top, and the same applies to the Blackouts. You can depend on it to work when you need it, and to blast ears when you pound some metal at your audience... Or walls in your apartment/house. Just watch the batteries and it'll run smooth. 9 for battery replacements, but aside from that, it's perfect.