Digitech iPB-10 guitar effects pedalboard for iPad
Review When the Digitech iPB-10 arrived, I duly dispatched an e-mail to a muso mate with a link to this ultimate iPad guitar pedalboard. The wag replied: Nice machine you're reviewing, but I don't know whether 87 pedals, 54 amps and 26 cabinets is quite enough for me...
Heavy metal: Digitech's iPB-10 features a cast alloy build to withstand serious stomping
Now those dizzying figures would have most people assuming that there’s a load of preset dross in there, but what makes up those numbers is an extensive roster of acoustically modelled gear from both past and present. You use these building blocks of axeman ecstasy to create custom programs and there’s 100 truly impressive factory tones to get things going. Furthermore, the My Tones library can store an unlimited number of user programs that you can pick and choose from.
Stomp through the banks and you come across names like Rhapsody and Gilmour hinting at songs and artists that, from the first note, leave you in no doubt that this is a serious piece of kit. A solid lump of ten hardware stomp switches along with a wah/volume pedal, the Digitech iPB-10 is in a different league to the basic app and cable combo for jamming on your iPhone such as IK’s AmpliTube/iRig or Griffin’s iShred/GuitarConnect. At the heart of it all are two dedicated effects DSPs with the iPad on GUI duties – its screen displaying the configurations of up to 10 pedals along with an amp and speaker cabinet available for just one program.
Twenty banks with five programs per view delivers a hot 100 setups you can can stomp through
First things first though. You do need an iPad – any iPad. And you need to download and instal Digitech’s free iPB-Nexus app.
The iPB-10 has a short integral iPad dock cable – which is the only fondleslab connection you need to make. There are two plastic inserts to suit the different iPad casing styles. You undo two screws to swap them over and the extra thickness of the new iPad shouldn’t be an issue here. A hinged frame snaps shut around the tablet to keep it in place.
Plug in and power on and you can begin with the fancy footwork. This does take a bit of familiarising though. The bottom row of five numbered footswitches each relates to a program shown at the bottom of the iPad screen. Hit one of these and you switch from some sizzling solo stack with fuzz and flangers ablaze, to some mellow clean combo with just a smattering of chorus and cascading delays. Audibly, it's instantaneous although the display takes a blink to refresh between programs.
Compatible with any iPad and even works without one if you can remember the program numbers
In short, the numbered pedals change the entire program and to get beyond the five that are showing, you hit the Up and Down switches next to the expression (wah/volume) pedal to move through the banks. The row of five lettered switches above change the individual pedals so, for instance, you can click an phaser off and on and retain all the other aspects of the preset. Given that you can use up to ten effects – but can only see five at a time – you have to decide which ones you want to have control of from a footswitch.
Next page: Pedal power
Dude, you're a barista!
A grand (in total) for a fancy effects pedal that will probably die when someone spills a pint on it?
I'll stick with my Marshall JMP and array of Boss pedals, thanks.
Gave you a free review unit did they?
As a long-time gigging guitarist, these are both laughably expensive (£500 for the unit plus £whatever for an iPad versus the offerings of Line6, Vox et al), badly built and a batshit mental idea - why do you want your fondleslab unprotected on the floor of an effing pub or club, right the path of the next spilled pint and under the filthy soles of your shoes?
In addition - I found the models to sound far too digital at any kind of volume, which asks questions of why the fruit it's packaged as a floor board.
What most other people said, plus...
I have nothing whatsoever against using iOS devices for music production - there are some incredible music apps out there, like the Animoog synthesiser (one review called it an "app which will sell iPads"), and some decent-looking hardware products with iDevice connections/docks (e.g. Akai's Synthstation25, a portable keyboard controller with built-in iPhone dock for £50).
However, as others have said, I really don't think Digitech have thought this one through very well at all. A £500-ish pedalboard which needs a £400 iPad to work, and which might well end up on the floor at a sweaty gig? And, which will end up obsolete within a few years, as Apple changes its product line?
You might just get away with using this in the studio, but then you could use all manner of other iOS guitar-processing apps/hardware which cost a fraction of this. Sorry, Digitech - if I had £500 to splurge on some guitar kit, I'd bag myself a Roland GR55...
It should have knobs on it
I've just got back into playing after getting too old for a life of debauchery. All the digital things sound digital (which is not surprising) But Alesis seem to be doing it better. I've got an iODock which after some initial loud noise problems i was eventually sorted by Alesis. Now they have something similar to this but with physical knobs on it and half the price.
So when you bend over in the dark to adjust the virtual knobs - if someone hasn't spilled beer on £1000 worth of kit - you have to fiddle around with erratic virtual knobs.
Think I'll stick with my G&L, VHT valve amp - which doesn't try and emulate a digital amp, TC chorus and various analogue pedals.