I’ll let you in on a secret – like most 20-something indie kids of the mid ‘Noughties, I was in a band. We were awful. We were great. The gigs have become the stuff of legend and hyperbolic, ‘one-too-many-beers’ tall stories. And then we got older, and then we got jobs, and then life got in the way, and the dream of headlining Glastonbury died.
I’ve been looking longingly at my Epiphone Sheraton for a little while now, hoping for an excuse to restring my axe of choice and scratch the musical creative itch that’s always tickling my heartstrings.
The IK Multimedia iRig Stomp I/O, being an iOS and USB-compatible multi-effects stompbox-come-audio interface proved just the excuse I needed, and more than surpassed my expectations.
A lot has changed in the ten or so years since I last stepped inside a recording studio, and not least of all is the rise in mobile recording options.
With Apple’s Garageband making anyone with a MacBook a potential bedroom superstar, and tablet computing powerful enough to make putting portable digital orchestras in the palm of your hand a practical option, it’s a far cry from the tape-chopping days of booking out studio time.
Sure, the big boys still have their Abbey Road sessions, but for bedroom rockers looking to just get their tunes heard, that’s now made easy with minimal fuss thanks to modern mobile gadgetry.
The IK Multimedia iRig Stomp I/O would have been a dream come true to a teenage me. It’s a 3-in-one delight, provided you have a small laptop or iPad, acting as both a multi-effects stomp box, audio interface and mobile recording studio.
An evolution of IK’s iRig line, the first manufacturer to really take iOS audio interfaces seriously, it’s as happy pairing up with your iPad or iPhone as it is with a MacBook, comprising of four stomp switches (with red-to-green gain LEDS), an expression pedal and a slot for popping in your iPad for use on the go. If you’re hooking it up to a Mac, it’ll work over USB power, but there’s also a power pack if you want to take the board on the go with you.
Around the rear there’s one XLR/quarter inch input for guitars with a 48v phantom power switch, MIDI in and out, ports to connect up to external pedals or switches, USB and lightning ports, a headphone output and a balanced stereo line output. Input and master output also have master gain dials for you to fiddle with.
Simple set up
While it’s not unique among modern Apple-compatible audio interfaces, compared to the audio interfaces of old being able to simply plug in the Stomp I/O and have it instantly recognised as an 96kHz/24-bit input device for my Mac was a dream (with some light configuration it’ll work with Windows devices, too).
Within minutes I was strumming away in Garageband, laying down tracks and vocals, with the unit acting as a MIDI foot controller.
When bought it is also packaged with software that’d cost you several hundred dollars or pounds if bought separately, including the excellent AmpliTube 4 Deluxe, AmpliTube for iPhone and iPad, AmpliTube Acoustic for iOS, VocaLive, MicRoom and more. Together, they give you hundreds of effects modelling options for guitars and vocals, letting you fine tune your sound to a professional standard.
The pedal board can take a beating too. Built with a metal chassis, I could happily stamp on it without fear of doing it damage, with its weight keeping it from shifting underfoot.
I’m not convinced I’d want to take my iPad to a beer-raining gig however, as it’d be exposed to all manner of potential injury in a live setting. But with the benefits of leaving the touchscreen being accessible part of the appeal, I’m not sure how IK Multimedia could effectively protect the screen without leaving it covered up.
What does frustrate a little though is the extension cable – it’s great to be able to place your iPad wired up on a stand (if plugged into a mains connection, the pedalboard can charge your tablet, too), but making the extension cable a sold-separately extra feels a little bit unfair.
The IK Multimedia iRig Stomp I/O costs $ 299, which translates roughly to £235 or AU$ 410 – an absolute steal given its versatility, durability and the wealth of software it comes with.
My now-aged digital multi-effects pedal, the Boss GT-6, was my prized possession back in the days of my band. Who knows where the music would have taken me if I’d had one of these back in my youth? Maybe there’s time yet for that Glastonbury performance…