Griffin StompBox iOS pedalboard review
Music making on Apple's iOS devices has long since migrated from mere display driven ditties to a range of additional hardware better suited to musicians. Alesis, Digitech and IK Multimedia, to name a few, are known music technology brands working the iOS instrument dock market. Nowadays, mainstream iDevice accessory vendors, such as Griffin Technology are vying for position here too.
Toe tapping tech: Griffin's StompBox guitar pedalboard for iOS devices
Griffin’s StompBox appears to be a natural progression from its simple GuitarConnect cable and app combo it introduced when the iPhone was still in short trousers. As its name suggests, the StompBox is a pedalboard and yet it relies on GuitarConnect cabling as part of its configuration and uses the same Frontier Design iShred Live app, more on this in a moment.
The four button pedalboard has a durable iOS docking cable and takes its power from the iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch. Apart from its switching circuitry and its four LEDs above each footswitch, the pedalboard is dumb and blind. There’s no display of any kind nor additional controls for tweaking – that’s all done from the app. That said, if you have an expression pedal, there’s a 1/4in jack socket round the back, so you can utilise it as a wah or volume pedal when assigned to a suitable virtual effects unit.
Instrument interfacing relies on the Griffin GuitarConnect splitter cable
With iShred Live downloaded and the Stompbox plumbed in to your iOS device, all that remains is to get the guitar signal into this arrangement. Rather than plug the guitar into the pedal board, as you might have assumed, the GuitarConnect splitter cable – with it multi-pole 3.5mm jack – functions as an in/out interface. So one end is a 1/4in guitar jack plus a 3.5mm headphone socket, the other is a single 3.5mm plug for the iOS device – I’ll say iPad from now on, as that’s what I tested it on mostly.
So your iPad ends up with a dock cable at one end and an audio splitter at the other. The pedalboard lies on the floor, although the iPad can end up on a table, as the cables are long enough, thankfully. If you’re thinking this sounds a little inelegant, you’re not alone. I used a Griffin Wavestand to prop up the iPad in landscape mode and found that over time the weighty dock connector cable would disconnect as it slowly eased out of the socket. The pedal icon disappears from the bottom of the screen when this happens. You’re also warned when the audio cable isn’t present.
Favourite effects combinations can be saved as presets and recalled from the StompBox
The pedalboard is configured from the iShred Live app and apparently works with JamUp Pro XT too. Indeed, Griffin is pushing this app quite hard as an alternative, with no iShred Live pics showing on its StompBox site. Another StompBox app is Griffin's own Qscript, which has nothing to do with guitars at all, but is a foot controlled speech prompter.
Next page: Stomping at Decca
There seems to be a resurgence of folk in the last couple of years, and before that young women singing in the style of 60s pop divas... with an interest in the sound and production. Look beyond the charts for 12 year olds, and you might see that your pessimism in not entirely warranted.
This doesn't look like a good product though. Looking forward to more audio kit for Android devices, now that Jelly Bean has addressed the latency issues.
Speaking as a live audio professional, as a control surface tablets are OK, but not for the actual processing of sound. You still have to carry standby kit, in the live sound world, as stuff breaks, and the show must go on.
3.5mm jacks have no place on a stage, as they break too easily.
I don't do any gigs these days, but that really does not look like a setup that will survive life on the road, even for an occasional weekday night amateur player, let alone a semi pro band.
What if you need that extra push over the cliff?
In that case you are shit outta luck, 'cause the guitar volume doesn't go to 11.
Re: Live music
Trouble is, often a talented and hard-working musician goes the effort composing and arranging tracks, recruiting a band, bullying them into rehearsals, driving them to gigs... eventually getting some favourable reviews in the national music press. At which point some established producer comes along and steals their lead singer...
One can start to understand why then some musicians have started to use things like the Boss Loop-station - effectively laying down their own backing track in real time (nothing is pre-recorded), or otherwise seek a way to provide a good live show without reliance on other individuals.
I guess when booking, you can ask the person you are interested in if there is a Youtube video that is representative of their live act?
I was also impressed by a pub in Penzance that had a collection of guitars on a wall otherwise covered in gig posters... along with a notice: "These instruments are provided for you to pick up and play. Please do. Please ask behind the bar and we will turn off the CD player"... hopefully sowing the seeds of future live acts.