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Why mince words – either buy an expensive all-tube Marshall stack or the MI Audio Super Crunch Box. I am fortunate enough to have a fair number of pedals shipped to me to try, and the Super Crunch Box is the first one that found a permanent place in my rig on day one – I’m not prone to hyperbole, it’s just that good. Combining a wide variety of outstanding and easy to dial in tones with a modest price tag (retail $150), this pedal is as close to a must-have as it gets for anyone looking for warm, searing distortion.

Beyond the aesthetic quality of tone, the real value of a pedal comes from its ease of use and versatility. The Super Crunch Box excels in both regards. The Super Crunch Box is a very intuitive pedal – it’s easy to dial in great tones with very little effort at all – no manual required. Featuring standard volume, gain and tone knobs, the SCB also comes furnished with a presence control, gain switch and compression toggle. The tone and presence knobs complement each other beautifully – it’s super easy to roll off the high-end with the tone knob and boost the clarity by pushing the presence.

The lo/hi gain switch toggles between gain settings – the “lo” mode almost approaches overdrive levels when the gain is backed off, and cleans up nicely with the volume knob. The “hi” gain setting is the moneymaker: super hot stores of crunch that lend this pedal its namesake.

The three-way compression control also adds versatility to the mix. The far left setting features stock red LED compression – setting up the controls at noon in hi-gain with this compression yields a classic Marshall crunch – even with low output single coils driving a bright amp (I demo’d a Tele into a Vox AC15 and the SCB turns this setup into a thick chunky monster). Switching the compression to the middle setting yields a lot less gain but a ton of output – ideal for a cleaner boost or in concert with the Lo gain mode for more of a vintage break-up.  The far right compression mode (silicon diode) yields softer clipping for a smoother sound – perfect for sheets of huge guitars.

The Super Crunch Box also gets loud – there is a massive amount of both gain and output on tap. This extended headroom is no accident – the SCB is set up to run on a standard 9v adaptor or battery but is modded to supply 18 volts for a bigger, tighter, and fuller sound at high volumes.

Distortion is as elemental to most guitarists’ sound as the amp or guitar they play. The Super Crunch Box makes it easy to toggle between classic iterations of Marshall tones – everything from Plexi to the JCM 800 to hot-rodded American updates a la Boogie or Soldano. With its combination of value, versatility, simplicity and ecstatic tone, the Super Crunch Box is pretty much the Platonic ideal of a distortion pedal.