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FDP Forum / Non-Fender Gear Reviews / MI Audio Crunch Box (This message was last edited by stevie z. at 11:21 PM, Feb 22nd, 2007)
FDP Forum / Non-Fender Gear Reviews / MI Audio Crunch Box
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Feb 12th, 2007 07:28 PM Edit Profile
Ease of Use : 10
This is the newer model with volume, tone, and gain controls on the top and a presence control inside. I opened it up and found the presence control set to center and so far I've left it there. I experimented with it a bit. It brightens or darkens the tone of the pedal. It appears to recenter the range of the tone pot. Very cool feature! No manual or instructions came with it. They should at least send a instruction sheet with it to explain the internal control. The controls have nice range and I quickly found my favorite settings. Very easy to get great tones from. Will run on a 9v battery or external power. I use a Visual Sound 1-spot with it. Never tried it with a battery. I rate it a 10 because it is easy to use. I really didn't need to adjust the presence control inside. I just did to see what it was about.
Sound Quality : 10
This *is* Marshall in a box. I've been on a "Marshall in a box" quest for about a year now. I've gone through the Marshall Jackhammer, GV-2 and BB-2. All were fine pedals in their own right. If I were to rate them in light of this pedal, I'd say the JH (OD setting) was a 7, the GV-2 an 7, and the BB2 a 6. Some of that is obviously personal taste. Given that, I do feel that the Crunch Box is a smoother and more natural sounding distortion than any of those pedals.
This pedal is not noisy given the amount of gain you can get out of it. Currently I'm playing this through an old 10 watt tube PA amp I modded for guitar use. It's a single-ended 6L6 amp. I set the amp up for clean fat tone and use the pedal for OD. I either play though a 1x10" with an Eminence Lil' Buddy or a 1x12" with an Eminence Texas Heat.
With the gain at 9:00 it is in old Plexi territory. At 12:00 it is like a hot metal panel (early 70's) Marshall. Beyond that is is like a hot-rodded or MV Marshall. I seem to have settled on the 12:00 position for gain. Tone I leave around 12:00, volume is set around 12:00 too and gives me parity with the bypassed state. All three knobs straight-up.
This pedal sounds very natural and has that great Marshall midrange. It cleans up by turning back the volume control on the guitar. In fact, it does this better than any other pedal I've owned or tried. This has turned out to be one of those inspiring pieces of gear that makes me want to play more. I buy and sell a lot of gear. If something doesn't floor me, I will, at some point in time, sell it and move on to something else. This pedal does not fall in that category. It will stay.
Reliability : 10
It's a small pedal with a metal case. It's very solid looking. Looks like quality parts.
Overall Rating : 10
I like classic rock and blues - some older metal. It is a great match for this stuff. At this time I own 2 LP clones - 1 with HighOrder AlNiCo 2 humbuckers and the other with HighOrder AlNiCo 2 P90's. I understand that all 10's may seem inflated, but it is honestly how I feel about this pedal.
I play the guitar; therefore I am
Feb 22nd, 2007 11:20 PM Edit Profile
Great review, Leftee. I recently obtained one of these MI Audio Crunchbox pedals and agree with everything written in the review. I'll also add the following as a comparison between the Marshall JH-1 Jackhammer and the MI Audio Crunch Box:
Note that I play a Gibson SG special through a Fender Hot Rod Deville 212 that has been modified with Eminence Texas Heat speakers.
The Marshall JH-1 Jackhammer is pretty similar to the Crunch box tone and distortion-wise. I consider both to be excellent "marshall-in-box" pedals. However, as mentioned in Leftee's review, the crunch box does have a more natural, smooth sounding overdrive. It almost doesn't seem like the crunch box is there, but rather you're plugged straight into a dimed Marshall JCM 800. With the Jackhammer, it feels like the pedal is between me and my amp.
Tone-wise the crunch box couldn't be easier to use (only one knob for tone) nor could it be easier to immediately dial in a great tone. I'm a tone freak, and it took me all of one minute to dial in some sweet sounds. With the Jackhammer, I'm constantly adjusting this and that, happy with the sound, but always feeling like I'm just one tweak away from that perfect Marshall tone. I've resorted (with no complaints, I'm actually quite happy with this setup) to using the crunch box to produce thick, midrangey Marshall JCM 800 crunch tones, and the Jackhammer to produce hard marshall crunch with scooped mids; almost Mesa sounding, but not quite.
The crunch box has more gain than the jackhammer. I like thick overdrive, so my gain dial sits at about 1:00. With the jackhammer, the gain knob is at about 3:00. With the crunchbox there is mild hum with the higher gain settings, but it's not too noticeable especially considering the level of gain. The Jackhammer also has some, but not a rediculous amount of hum with higher gain.
To conclude, I honestly really like both pedals. The MI Audio Crunch Box certainly seems to be a better fit for me in general, as my goal is to have both benefits of sparkly Fender cleans and powerful, fairly vintage Marshall overdrive with the click of a pedal. However, when I'm feeling like firing off some wild metal riffs, it is no sacrifice to switch on the Marshall JH-1 Jackhammer. It would be fair to say that both are almost equally good buys, depending on the type of overdrive and tone you are hoping to achieve. Both will get you Marshall. Just decide which era of Marshall you want.
Feb 22nd, 2007 11:29 PM Edit Profile
The CB will get into older Plexi tones too with the gain backed off. There's quite a range with the gain control.
I always found the JH harder to dial in too. It is very easy to get too much bass with it.
I play the guitar; therefore I am
Feb 24th, 2007 10:34 AM Edit Profile
I totally agree. Put the CB gain dial around 10:00 and you're smokin' in plexi territory. I've actually taken to putting the gain more around 12:00. What amazes me about this pedal is that no matter where I decide to dial in the gain, the tone remains thick and warm.
I would totally recommend this pedal to anyone who wants a very warm, mild overdrive to get them just over the edge of breakup. Most recommend tube screamers for that, but tube screamers are designed to be a solo boost, with a noticeable mid-range hump and tapered bass to bring you out in the mix. The CB will provide that warm, slight breakup without the tone alteration.
VP-93 and the P-3 Orion
Feb 24th, 2007 11:46 AM Edit Profile
Leftee, nice thorough writeup. I could not have articulated this pedal's attributes any better. I too default to everything straight up and it's tweakable w/guitar controls.
I promise to do one on their new delay because I confess I will pick one up based on impulse + my very positive experience with the Crunch Box.
Feb 24th, 2007 12:44 PM Edit Profile
I think the CB has a definite mid range presence ala Marshall. I don't know about "slight breakup without the tone alteration." It is not transparent. The Bad Monkey I have is more transparent. The Monkey just puts OD on whatever tone the amp makes. The CB turns about any amps into a Brit-styled amp.
adrift in a limbic storm
Mar 3rd, 2007 03:32 PM Edit Profile
Alright. I've had my Crunch Box for a couple weeks now and I can say that I still love the thing. It has replaced a Keeley modded Boss DS-1 on my pedalboard and it sounds great with both single coils and humbuckers.
Like Leftee says, it is not a transparent box but does bring a convincing faux Marshall crunch to otherwise clean-toned tube amps. Plus, it's true bypass to boot.
I suspect these may well become future collectors items.
This Space for Rent
Mar 3rd, 2007 03:43 PM Edit Profile
I finally finished my Strat-o-copy and tried it with this pedal. It's a winner for me too.
Mar 14th, 2007 09:52 AM Edit Profile
mine is in the mail... should get it today.
I feel like this pedal is it.
Flint Mi USA
Aug 28th, 2007 10:39 AM Edit Profile
Ok finally broke down and bought one because of all the reviews and I must say everything stated here was fairly on the mark. It knocked the Jackhammer right off of my board and out the window. While I could get fairly close with an irritating amount of tweaking with the jackhammer to what I could easily get with the crunchbox, the jackhammer still sounded muffled, unnatural and had missing dynamics in comparison. Another amazing thing that happened as soon as I removed the Jackhammer from my chain was that my tone all of a sudden got magically much sweeter. My guess is the buffer in that thing was worse than the normal mass produced ones offered in most pedals these days. The crunchbox cleans up so well with the volume control that I am tending to max out the gain on the pedal and just use my controls on the guitar to dial in the desired amount of crunch. This works especially well with my Strat going from edgy to insane without having to bend down and readjust stuff on my board. It also works really well with my wah, while with the JH engaged it was kind of harsh and nasally with the CB its pure sweet weeping and chaka chaka chaka. My Marshal in a box quest is complete as well. Of course my opinions are my own and YMMV.
I am currently playing through an upgraded anniversary MIM Strat with GFS 60s repros, or a Schecter C-1 Classic with the JB and Jazz through a DRRI with the Jenson speaker and bright cap mod. I have Philips AT7 tubes in the vibro and reverb slots. I have EH Ax7s in the rest of the preamp slots and JJ 6v6s for power tubes.
Aug 28th, 2007 09:44 PM Edit Profile
"My guess is the buffer in that thing was worse than the normal mass produced ones offered in most pedals these days."
The JH (or any of the Marshall pedals) does not have a buffer. They are not true bypass either. They are what Marshall calls "passive bypass." The switch is wired to bypass when the effect is disabled, but the circuit is still loading the signal too. It's not surprising that you found that removing the JH dressed up your signal a bit.
Aug 31st, 2007 11:05 AM Edit Profile
I've had this pedal for about a month now and I totally agree with everything said here so far. It turns my Blues Jr. into a mini-Marshall. It sounds great with my strat and tele and amazing with my SG. I also keep the settings all around noon, alhtough sometimes I turn up the tone a bit when using the SG on the neck pick-up.
I went through about five different pedals before this one and sold them all within a week of bringing this this home. I also compared it to the OCD and preferred the Crunch Box. I wouldn't say it's "better" than the OCD, just different and it more closely resembled the tone that I was after.
Nov 11th, 2007 05:34 PM Edit Profile
i got mine on friday and have played it all weekend. this is what i always wished a distortion box could be. it's also very quiet, which is nice with a single coil strat. i love the whole range of tones it has and i love how punchy chords sound with the gain at half.
all the hype you hear about this pedal is totally deserved and it is pretty affordable as well.
the real test was when i turned off my BDRI and hauled the old Roland JC-120 out of the closet and tried the pedal through the old toneless wonder. it sounded great i never had so much fun playing through that thing. it was screaming.
as of now the tone part of my effect chain is: an OCD, into a CrunchBox, into a Fulltone 69' fuzzbox...i'm finally in freakin tone heaven.
Nov 22nd, 2007 09:58 AM Edit Profile
How does this pedal compare to a ZVEX Box of Rocks? Are they similar, as they both profess to be Marshall's in a box. Anyone have both?
Dec 21st, 2007 09:16 AM Edit Profile
Just got my CB in the mail yesterday... I agree with what everyone has said. Gain at 1:00, tone about 12:00 and I was having a blast. Great nasty marshall rock and roll tones with a nice, slighly compressed lead sound (i.e. great sustain). I've been using an OCD for a while now (over a year), and I think I prefer the CB for leads due to the singing sustain that's present. I think the OCD cleans up a little better when the volume is turned down, but that crunch box is still singing in my head. I can't wait to get home and play it again. I may have to use the OCD as a lower gain pedal now, cause the CB has high gain all over it.
Dec 21st, 2007 01:56 PM Edit Profile
One of these days I'm going to have to land an OCD.
I had a unique opportunity to use mine under different circumstances back in Oct. I went out to visit a friend in Boise and I hauled a guitar and my CB along so we could jam a little (a lot). He had me use his Marshall 4212 combo (50w 2x12 JCM800 channel switching combo) I figured I'd use both channels of the amp and the CB for a little extra. The lead channel of that amp sounded pretty much not so great. Instead I used the CB and the clean channel of the amp. The tone ruled!
Those amps weren't known for great lead channels any ways. The CB provided a much better overdriven Marshall tone.
How many sunbursts are enough?
Dec 21st, 2007 02:05 PM Edit Profile
I've had a chance to run my "new" Tradition S2003 through the CB into my DRRI...schweeeeeeeeet!
Got all the knobs at about 9:00, and those pups are overdriving the DRRI beautifully. I'm really enjoying this pedal.
usa/ Northwest IN
You say you`re leavin,I`ll help you pack
Dec 21st, 2007 04:36 PM Edit Profile
Know Whatcha mean, I`ve started using the CB on that Bad Company tune, "Feel Like Makin` Love", into a SFDR, with the volume at 9:30, tone at 1:00 and Gain at 9:00. All I can say is WOW, when you smack into the chorus of the tune........;o) Madscientist, 1:00 on the gain is where you like it for leads?
Jan 16th, 2008 12:55 PM Edit Profile
Yeah, 1:00...gives a great classic rock lead tone...good compression, thick tone.
Mar 5th, 2008 10:03 AM Edit Profile
I just got mine yesterday and only had about 15 minutes with it so far. WOW this thing is awesome, great tone. I have an OCD and LOVE it too but now I can cover everything from light overdrive to full on Marshall with these two. I cant wait to get home tonight....
Thanks for the optinions on the CB I am glad I listened to everyone here and bought one sight unseen. Couldnt be happier.
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(This message was last edited by stevie z. at 11:21 PM, Feb 22nd, 2007)
FDP Forum / Non-Fender Gear Reviews / MI Audio Crunch Box