OD808 provides the natural, mild overdrive of a tube amp without sacrificing your guitar's original tone. In addition, it can be used as a clean booster to provide increased gain without compromising the sound of your amplifier.
The secret behind the legendary "808 tone" lies in the amplifier section of its circuit. Rather than having an amplifier stage followed by a clipping stage, the uses a signal-distorting diode (Panasonic #MA150) that is located in the amplifier stage's negative feedback loop (which also contains the JRC4558 IC chip). Therefore, the Maxon OD808 distorts signal in the amplifier circuit itself which yields a smoother, milder, more natural sounding distortion than a separate clipping stage. This is also the reason that the IC type used in the circuit has such a large impact on the unit's tone. Maxon developed this unique design more than 20 years ago, and while it is commonplace nowadays, back then it was an industry first.