I currently use an Epiphone Les Paul Studio and a Jackson RR3, all sound analysis here is made using the RR3.
I also use a Behringer FCB1010 midi footcontroller for parameter and program changes with this unit to great effect.
The tonal options available are very wide. Can very easily sound like Marshalls but is very good at higher gain sounds more along the lines of Peavey 5150, Mesa Rectifier, ENGL 530. My current favourite tone i've been able to replicate is from the Evergrey album The Inner Circle, achieved a near exact replica of the rythm tone from the song Ambassador with no extra help from other processing, however an external graphic EQ would make it possible to replicate near any tone i imagine. Clean sounds are that of a marshall, not particularly astounding, could again be tweaked to be suitable for most purposes, can be very birght when needed. Very easy to simulate an acoustic guitar.
All the effects are very good, versatile and extremely customisable. The two that let the unit down in terms of effects however are the pitch shifter and the noise gate.
The pitch shifter is not of a great quality, can be used well to create harmonies of small intervals and very well with an expression pedal as a "whammy" type effect but does not fare well for use with lower octave sounds, the lower you pitch down the more the sound quality degrades. The noise gate while a useful feature is actually bollocks at high volumes due to the high gain nature of the overdrive sounds of this preamp and i fuly recommend the use of an external noise gate unit. Currently i use a Boss ns-2 to solve this problem but i am investigating a midi controllable gate with which to create presets for live use.
Chorus, flange and delays on this unit are great very customisable. Delay can make use of tap tempo.
Unit also supplies tremolo, wah, phase, reverb and compression effects to very high standards.
Full control is given over effect levels and mix as well as stereo panning and signal level given to reverb and delay effects.
In my opinion the higlight of the effects supplied in this unit however is the speaker simulation. It is OUTSTANDING. Simply the best speaker simulation i have ever heard. I would be happy to record guitar tracks direct to the desk or play direct into a PA system using this unit because of it, no digital modelling unit can stand up this preamp in this respect.
Currently i use a Studiomaster mosfet 1000 rackmount poweramplifier with this unit live and a marshall AVT150 combo (via effects return) for practice, the preamp sounds great through both but really sines with the higher power Studiomaster. The best place to hear this preamp however is infront of a valve poweramplifier with 6l6s in. Powerful sound indeed.
8 - Cuz it sounds great, but but the pitch shifter 'aint perfect and it needs and external noise gate unit.
It has never broken down of me yet, only had it a few months though but the unit is about ten years old so i presume it will keep going ad infinitum.
If it did die i would certaily be buying a replacement.
I currently gig it without a backup.
10 - I have no reason to doubt it's reliability
I'm a metal/prog guitarist primarily and this preamp is great for my style of playing and overall sound, could be used for many other styles too.
I've played for nearly 13 years but never owned much equipment beyond a guitar combo. However in that time ive played in numerous bands, recorded several times, produced a few albums, worked in many live music venues and currently work for a sound, lighting and electrical engineering company as an audio technician so i would say i have a good grasp and experience of high end audio equipment. Although my current band recorded it's current album before i bought this unit (oh how i wish id had it before) i have programmed the exact same tone of the peavey ultra we used to record it (hear it here: http://www.myspace.com/massacreonthefjords , the rythm guitars only, lead was recorded with line six) and i am very happy with the versatility and sound quality supplied by this compact unit both for live and studio use. It will live in my rack for all time and no doubt get used when im working as well as playing.
As i said previously if it were lost, stolen or borken it would be replaced.
The only real beef i have with the unit overall is the external powersupply, takes up space in the back of the rack, but this isn't much of an issue.
Overall 8 - Sounds great, very customisable, easy to use, 1 rack space, relaiable, needs external noise gate, not the best pitch shifter.