I'm using a Gibson Nighthawk Standard and a Mesa/Boogie DC-5. I usually run the recording output of the Mesa into the board via a direct box. At my last gig, I tried running guitar-effect-amp-di and guitar-effect-di-amp and had great sound quality either way. I ended up settling for the latter, as it allowed me greater control of my stage volume without giving the sound man a big headache chasing my volume settings. Some of the more distortion-oriented patches hiss a bit, but with the noise reduction dialed in, you can pretty much nip that in the bud. The sound out front was really full and lush, and had lots of life. The noise reduction settings are critical, as I had dialed in a little too much at first and ended up losing some sustain. It was very easy to fix, though, thanks to the knobs. I really dig the vocal effect used in the "BISKIT" patch. The distortions are, well, distortion (you really have to work at it to screw up a distortion box). The chorus models are very full sounding, and the phaser is a dead-on MXR replica. It has a really hip MuTron-type envelope filter (auto wah) which is fun to use during our 60s medley. The wah, while not a Crybaby, is pretty good. Anybody who has had problems with it might try recalibrating their pedal. It's easy to do, and the manual gives good instructions. I play in a country/rock cover band, so I need to be able to get lots of different sounds for the different styles we play. This unit really delivers. Of course, it really helps to have a good working knowledge of the effects used so you know what to tweak. As a 20+ year veteran of stompboxes, I found it pretty easy. If you haven't dealt with stompboxes, I could see where you could possibly get overwhelmed. The amp models aren't perfect replicas, but they're close enough that only a major purist could tell the differences.
I brought my boxes as a backup last night, but they ended up just being dead weight. The unit is built tough. If I could change anything, I would have put some kind of rubber membrane over the pedal on/off switch, as I could see gunk could get into the unit through the hole. Other than that, I don't foresee any problems with it. I treat my stuff pretty carefully, but I think it could take some abuse without any major heartache.
One of the main reasons I bought this unit was because it modeled stompboxes instead of people, if you know what I mean. While it's nice to be able to sound like Van Halen, if you don't play like him then what's the point. I've been playing long enough (30 years) to have a distinctive style, so I'm more interested in coloring my sound than sounding like anybody in particular. The factory patches, for the most part, need some tweaking, but that's no big surprise. As I mentioned before, I play country/rock covers. I needed a unit that would be really versatile, yet wouldn't require a college degree to program. I shopped around for quite a while, and tried all of the different units out there, even some that were much more expensive. For me, the value for the money was what led me to the Korg AX1000G. It's compact, light (about 5 lbs), looks and sounds good, and is the easiest thing to program, especially "on the fly". It would be nice if it had MIDI, but I can live without it. If it were stolen, I would definitely get another one. If anybody has some interesting patches to share, drop me a line.