I have used/owned may effect units/amps ect.over the years and I keep going bact to my 2101.My main setup right now is a RG550/RG570 or a Strat Loanstar into 2101 and/or a Mesa studio pre into a mesa 2:90.
THE BEST THING YOU CAN DO FOR THE 2101 IS BUY A GOOD TUBE POWER AMP!.
I messed around for years with a Crown power amp and while it sounded good the 2:90 makes it sound like Heaven. It will take some of the "digitalness" and add a more warm tube tone.
The gate works good for high gain patches. Clean tube and Sat.tube gains are very nice. I don't care for the "stomp box" non tube gain voices (my bud loves the grunge distortion though).You can get ANY effects sound out of this thing it just takes some planning and precise effect placement.Reverbs are lush deleys are amazing.Try the Gigaverb with a Sat.tube distortion..Sweet Butter.
I can get classic tones (AC/DC,Sabbath) to Eddies wet/dry (eventide)
late 80's/90's sound with ease.
If I had to a/b/ it with my mesa pre I would say the pre does rock a "bit" better (more crunchy Foo like sound but will also do a KILLER early Metallica sound)and the 2101 kills on leads or any prog. 80's or newer "modern" heavy metal/hard rock.
Broke once on me (I lost a transformer) but was able to get one from digitech.
Oh the front jack broke once too.
I play rock/metal.Works GREAT a+
Playing for 20 years. I own a ton of gear (I have g.a.s.).
Can't say much more about it. I have a backup one now (not going to need it) just-in-case.
I only wish it had a midi operated amp channel switcher built into it but that can be fixed with a gsx ect.