Sound quality......I think this unit has it in spades. Everything seems to be quiet and transparent so your basic tone isn't affected; nothing stands out as being too noisy or just bad.
I found it to be very nice with some factory presets that were designed to emulate certain guitarists' tone effects. EVH's Eruption fx (a great Phaser and Delay) was in there, as well as Alex Lifeson's Chorus/Delay fx, and even Pantera's mid-scooped rythym guitar sound via the EQ section. Way neat!
I can't help but scroll through all the presets just to try out at every rehearsal. There's a few I really dig, and am contemplating adding those presets to my regular presets. Since I run this unit in a rack with a mighty ADA MP-1 (modded to 3TM specs) I'm finding possibilities that never really presented themselves before when I was using the Intellifex. For one, the Intellifex has no Flange. No Phaser or Roto-Speaker thingie. The Xpression does these very very well. In fact, everything I heard out of the Xpression seemes good to me. True, the Reverbs lack a bit here and there compared to the Intellifex, but I've never been a big fan of huge reverb coming out of my cab at gigs anyway. The Pitch Shift is a little wierd sometimes, I really can't describe it. It's certainly not bad at all, but not quite as good as some other dedicated Pitch Shift units out there. Still good enough for me though. All the other goodies this thing has more than makes up for that. Even a Post-EQ in here! Ever find yourself twiddling your amp's EQ endlessly only to find that its EQ adjustments for its fixed frequencies doesn't quite match the frequencies you're looking to adjust? You need a Post EQ. And here you go, now you can find those frequencies you want to tweak.
I know stompbox peeps shy away from rack stuff....but even if you hate rack gear, if you like awesome (or subtle; your choice of how you want it...and you know you do) you really should make the effort to check one of these out in your amp's effects loop at least. Familiarizing yourself with a good midi control pedal (floorboard pedal) will reap countless benefits from your rig that you never realized, all without adding 10 stompboxes with all the noise and signal degradation they will add. This unit even has a Hush section in it, in case your amp gets a bit unruly with the noise and hiss at higher gain settings. Make no mistake, this unit will need a few hours/days (depending on your knowledge and expereince with midi-controlled rack gear) to get dialed in perfectly with your rig if you need something other than the factory settings, but IMO it's worth checking out. Definitely RTFM....it's big help if you should ever get lost or confused with some things. Good midi-controlled rack gear will need that learning curve. The Xpression has so many options, so many tweaks, if you can't get the sound you want after a fair amount of usage something is wrong....and it won't be this unit. Gotta play with it some, and that's half the fun of having midi-controlled rack units anyway! Perfection never comes easy, but some units allow you to get there quicker than others. This thing shines. Gold, gold, gold.
My rig consists of Jackson Kelly guitars loaded with EMG pickups. A highly modded ADA MP-1 (with three tubes in it instead of two)for the preamp, Rocktron Hush Super C, the Xpression, into a Peavey Classic 120 tube poweramp. The speaker cab of my choice is the ever-present standard-issue Marshall 1960a 4x12 cab. A Rolls MidiBuddy floorboard controls the goods.
I'm giving this unit a 10? You bet. I'm all up on this thing. I lust for no other effects unit. Done deal, no more searching around. I have what I need, and even what I want. Lust no more.
I've had this for a few months as of this writing. I've used the Intellifex for years without a hitch or glitch. If that's any indication, I am confident with all of Rocktron's stuff.
Just for the rack-newbies, rack gear belongs in a rack case. Period. Leaving the unit just sitting by itself on top of your amp (or even worse, sandwiched inbetween the head and cab so that the head sits on the fx unit) won't protect the unit from anything. Falls, thumps, spills, drops, rough handling, etc. happens. It's just a fact of life. Why risk it? Get a small rack case to put the thing in. Even the cheapest of the cheapo rack cases are better than nothing.
I have nothing bad to say about this Xpression. Really! Ok, ok.....that blinking light on the front is the only, and I mean ONLY thing that annoys me. A piece of electrical tape took care of that in fine ghetto fashion. Just covered it up. Go, Me!
My band plays a unique brand of metal, with a lot of dynamics. If this unit didn't work out for me at 100% of my requirements, it'd be gone. But happily, it works at 100% of what I want to do with it, at 100% of the time. (I never have this unit bypassed) The Intellifex it replaced was at 80% at best....and I loved that unit. So you see, I'm certainly not dogging the Intellifex, it's awesome in it's own right. And it's a great platform to learn about what Rocktron units are all about. After that, the "step up" to something like the Xpression with all its added features will not subject you to "future shock" as much.
I'm not sure exactly what these are going for price-wise. I happened to have a good friend sell it to me for a very good price. No, it certainly wasn't free or like a hunnert bucks, but I would have paid twice the price he asked, if I could've afforded it. But I couldn't at the time, and being the true friend he is, gave me the deal I was looking for and could actually afford. (Thank you I.R.S. for giving back some of the money I EARNED last year.) Wotta Bud. He only wanted to sell it because he actually stepped up to another super high-end rack fx unit that most of the rest of us mere mortal working-stiffs would only be able to drool on.
If you find one of these for sale at a fair price and wonder what Rocktron is all about, by all means swoop it up and try it out. If you are completely new to the Rocktron Path of Holiness, then look for an Intellifex. Those will be cheaper, and will satisfy your yearning for supa dupa quality effects in a rack unit. After you graduate from those, the Xpression is the bomb. Really, there isn't much out there better than the Xpression. The ones that are, will cost you more Plutoblingblings than you might be willing to pay unless you score a cushy endorsement deal or make more $$ than the average working musician. Or maybe you just aren't married with children. LOL