Admittedly, you won’t hear a sound, but it helps become more familiar with the app, scroll through all the available tones and even string some new ones together to try out later. Moreover, if you already have a stack of custom presets that you need sort through and put in order for a gig, you can even do this in the van on the way there.
One last thing on the pedals, a single tap on one brings up all the available effects for that particular group. For instance, the modulation listing goes on for miles, but there are only five reverbs – one spring, one plate and four Lexicon effects. And if you’ve never heard of Lexicon, let’s just say, its reverb hardware and software has graced most of pop music’s finest moments in the last thirty years.
Interfacing features ground lift and level matching along with USB audio functionality for recording
Click for a larger image
Talking of studios, the USB interface on the iPB-10 is not only for firmware upgrades from the NetUpdater application, but it also enables the behemoth to work as an audio interface with 44.1kHz/24-bit resolution. I hooked it up to Apple Logic Studio and made a big mistake that took a fair bit of headscratching to sort out.
Works as a stereo audio interface too – shown here in Apple's Logic Studio
First, I set the Record Out level from the iPB-Nexus app and had a healthy signal, complete with effects, ready for track laying. For plumbing into a conventional mixer, not only do you get a standard line level output on 1/4in jacks, but there’s a balanced output on XLR jacks to deliver a low noise analogue signal. So I monitored from the 1/4in output and turned it up full from the settings. And that’s where I went wrong.
This settings slider is a balance control – it says 1/4in Mix – and varies the level from USB and the iPad. In use, the USB level is the return signal you get from your computer. The iPad level is the guitar output of the iPB-10. With this slider sat somewhere in the middle you’ll be able to play along to existing recordings all monitored through the iPB-10.
Just be sure to get the balance right
However, in my haste for fun-packed thrills, I’d shifted this balance control all the way to the right – in effect, iPad-only. So Logic’s meters bounced up and down when recording the iPB-10 output, but I couldn’t hear a darn thing on playback. To make matters more confusing, the headphone output has no balance control so you do hear everything from that. And even without music software, you can use the iPB-10 as your main audio interface so you can jam along with YouTube clips or anything else that takes your fancy.
The iOS version of GarageBand will record the iPB-10 out – use the Dry option to record without this app's effects
Another surprise was you can even record to iOS version of GarageBand and other similarly equipped apps running within the iPad. I tried this out and it worked fine, but you need to choose the Audio Recorder instrument option and have it set to Dry, so no additional effects from GarageBand are recorded. This does involve a bit of flipping between apps, but once you have the iPB-10 sorted with the set-up you want, you can remain in the recording app and the pedals will still switch effects even though you are flying blind. And if you just want to practice and play along with some songs, iTunes on the iPad can run in the background while you let rip.
Next page: Setting the tone
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.