NAMM has come and gone and among millions of other gear news, I’ve spotted iPhone-related guitar pedals from at least three manufacturers. They are all “single-unit” stompboxes that go on your pedalboard with the rest of the pedals, but each of the three have a separate approach.
Digitech’s iPhone pedal is called iStomp. It’s a single-effect stand-alone programmable stomp box. Using the designated iPhone app, the pedal be “firmwared” into almost any of Digitechs physical pedals. It’s probably best described by Digitech’s own promotional video:
The iRig STOMP is a sort of switching box that allows you to inline your favorite iPhone amp sim (like IK Multimedia’s Amplitube, of course) into your regular pedal board signal chain. It basically takes the input signal, routes it through the iPhone app’s sound processing and feeds the processed signal back into the pedal chain. It has a hardware volume control and a bypass footswitch with which you can bypass the whole iPhone app. It connects to the headset connector, just like an iRig guitar adapter.
TC Electronics is well-known for their high quality effects and pedals, and perhaps best known for their Polytune pedal (which is now available in a mini version). Last year, they released their TonePrint technology, which basically means configurable pedals. They’re not configurable into other effects like the iStomp, instead it’s a way of setting a lot of adjustable parameters on a delay pedal like the Flashback or a flanger like the Vortex. They have now released an iPhone app (Android version coming) to make these settings. They’ve chosen quite an interesting way of transmitting the new TonePrint to the pedal. Instead of connecting the phone directly to the pedal hardware, you hold it to one your plugged-in guitar’s pickups and the pedal will recognize the incoming sound squirt as an encoded toneprint and update itself. Petrucci’s signature pedal from TC, the Dreamscape, is TonePrint enabled and can be updated using the app.
Here’s a video of how it works:
Although iStomp is the coolest solution on paper, like a light version of that fully programmable hardware VST host I wrote about before, it’s the least useful if I get it correctly. It’s a single-effect solution, so why not just get the actual physical pedal. Sure it can be useful to change a delay into a flanger if you only need one of them – but how is that going to work in a gig situation? Would you hook up your phone and reflash the pedal between songs?
The iRig STOMP is really interesting for me, I would really like to be able to use my iPhone at rehearsals. The only issue I have with it is that it connects through the analog headset connector instead of the digital docking port. Historically this has had a large negative impact on sound quality with hiss and crosstalk.
The TC TonePrint pedals seem great. I’d like a delay for instance that you can make great presets for, and also download preset made by/for famous guitar players. At €150 (cheapest I could find) it’s not exactly the budget solution though.