Wow. I have two shows coming up this next weekend, St. Patrick's Day. So I reexamined my rig to fit this gig situation (new country genre). Long story short I took a flyer on the MI Audio Crunchbox and the Blackstone Appliances OD/Distortion. I had a major rehearsal today, full band, stage volume equal to gig volume on my "A" rig. (Melancon Custom Artist "S"; Germino Club 40; Tone Tools 112). My thoughts? Homerun. Twice. Out of the park. I have spent some hours on Friday working with both boxes prior to this. The MI Audio Crunchbox is the "amp about to explode" pedal for me. It is simply a cholesterol filled grease monster of a distortion. I totally dig the full on in-your-face punch and slam of this little red pedal. I really like it for big rocking solos; and with my Fulltone Clyde wah in front of it.... day-um fun. I am more than slightly blown away with it. The Blackstone is a completely different beast. It isn't just another pedal. It is one of those things in life where you just stop and realize that everything you thought you knew - deeply - is now changed. This thing doesn't just open the box; it is probably the most impressive OD pedal I have ever tried. My gear hound longtime buddy bassist Mike even noted, "Don't sell that one. Please. That thing is amazing." I'd have to agree with him. It isn't set up like ordinary pedals. You have two channels, Red and Brown. On the higher gain Red channel, you have volume and a gain pot that is at minimum at 12 o'clock; turn clockwise for fatter single coils gain (really fattens up the tone); turn counter-clockwise for higher gain humbucker tones (tightens the bass up). Really holds together and stays very tight, not loose at all. On the lower gain Brown channel, you have volume and gain on top; the gain works like the clockwise "Red" gain. There is a single "EQ" that starts flat at full clockwise and as you roll it counter clockwise it cuts the mids; past 12 o'clock it boosts the highs and lows. On the inside of the pedal you have a few options - first you have the buffered/non-buffer switch. If you can run this directly after the guitar, you can not believe how it reacts to the volume knob. Crystal clean to full on raging distortion on the red channel; insane. There are also two trim pots; one is for overall gain on the Red Channel and one adjusts the overall presence. If that isn't enough, you can swap out either or both of two caps that will change the tonal centers of the pedal. Whew. I upped the inside gain a bit, left the presence at factory settings and left it unbuffered (though I might change that, it doesn't like the Clyde in front of it when I pop it in the circuit). It allows me to ride the volume pot on the guitar - to far more effect than ever before with even just the amp (any amp) - to set the degree of bite/OD/distortion. Amazingly so. This pedal holds together so well under high gain, it is amazing. Dropped-D stuff just SLAMS with utter authority, no mud or run away bass. The frequencies it is dialed into just fit into the mix perfectly. So much more body of the guitar tone comes though... I was a little bit surprised. I thought that before I had lots of cut, punch and body in my tone that got through the "din" of the mix; this was just mind boggling. Under high gain with a humbucker, it was stunning. Unlike the Crunchbox, this pedal does not disguise or hide anything with "grease"; you gotta bring it real or you'll hear it instantly. The higher gain stuff really reminds me of VHT's type of grind, totally together, very punchy and just FULL. Tight rather than loose. The brown channel is extremely similar to the Timmy. Tighter, more in control than Timmy, but the essence of that Timmy does, is here. I was *right* at home for my single coil grindy stuff. And the way the Blackstone reacts to the volume knob on the guitar; man, it is something. Totally seamless, natural and it just feels good. Very very very impressed. Knocks on either? The Crunch box doesn't clean up very well, at all, with the volume knob. It is basically a one trick pony. That isn't really a knock, because it does what it does so damn well. It is my go-to solo box now. Single coils or humbuckers. Just BIG sounding, massive, greasy and full of that "stuff" that makes you smile. The Blackstone's main knock is the LED IMHO. You get red for the red channel, but the brown channel changes it to.... orange-ish/red. Perhaps in the dark you can tell at a glance, but I am color blind to.... you guessed it, reds/browns. I can barely make out the difference between them. It is easy enough to hear the difference, but don't want to be wrong in performance. So there you are. Verdict this early in the game? MI Audio Crunchbox - massive sounding little pedal with the "STUFF". If this thing doesn't make you smile, you've never had the chance to stand in front of a true Marshall stack and had your pants flapping. This pedal brings it REAL. Blackstone Appliances - this is a world beater. This thing is so far out of the box, it transcends the box. Two channels that will take any amp with a good clean into three channels of total control and REAL sounding tone. More cut/body/punch in the mix than anything I have heard in my life. So small and cool (the pots on top are recessed, you need a pick or fingernail to change them... so your settings are set!) looking; so tweakable. And the result is a box that really only folks that are truly experts with OD pedals might truly appreciate. If this was your first box, you might have a harder time dialing it in at first; and once you did it might ruin all other OD boxes for you. It is *that* good. I have owned some things over the years that just stopped me dead. I have owned so much nice gear (and not so nice) over the years, it sometimes can be a blur. Even the truly extraordinary stuff might spin your head and make you slow down for a while; the very few gems that make you stop and rethink what you "know" or "believe" about gear this way/or that way. For me, the Melancon was like that. I've owned and loved a lot of guitars; the Melancon was bought as a back to my guitars and totally reprogrammed my brain about what I "thought" I liked/loved about guitars. Stopped me dead. My Germino Club 40 totally reset my head. The Clyde Wah; my Hamer Custom Studio (my personal PRS-killer). Now this Blackstone; and yes, I feel that strongly about it. Just first impressions; but I like talking about stuff that I like... so there you are. Peace!