What is it? MIDI Controller and Recording/Live Performance Interface for Guitars or Vocals
I have been looking for a product like this for quite some time. Mostly because just like many producers/worship leaders I have been looking for ways to get the sounds used in the studio into a live venue. Being an amp and pedal kind of guy myself, I was surprised when I heard several top producers tell me that they haven’t used a real amp in years to make a record. That revelation has launched me into a new direction in the studio but I still found myself standing on the other side of a technical gap to practically use those same sounds live. I say practically because there have been ways to get it done before, but it was always clunky and required a lot of patching with special cables and several pieces of external gear. What I wanted was something simple, well built, and in a perfect world it would be designed to do what I was looking to do. Well, that’s just what I found in one of the most versatile products I have seen in a while, the iRig Stomp I/O.
Primarily designed to work with either a guitar or a vocal this unit is actually an interface, which means a lot of things, but mainly that’s important because of its’ ability to transfer audio both to and from a computer, tablet, or smartphone in one cable. This not only simplifies the cabling required, but it also unlocks an important feature, which is that you can use this unit to record any instrument that uses a 1/4 inch cable or that you could mic into any DAW (digital audio workstation) such as GarageBand, Logic, ProTools, Ableton etc. A feature which is almost worth the price of admission by itself.
The real focus of this unit, however, is to allow a computer, windows tablet/iPad, or iPhone to handle the processing of the audio while well-built foot switches allow you to control sounds via preset MIDI commands. The ingenious designers at IK Multimedia even made a way for you to place your devices on the unit itself and to even pass along power so you can charge your battery while you’re rocking out.
With so many options, it will be up to you which way you’ll use it. You can choose to use the included software or another of your choosing. A vocalist could connect their microphone to the unit and then dial in their sound with an array of compressors and effects such as delays, pitch shifters, and reverb that they can dynamically be controlled with their feet while they sing.
While this is also true for any instrument that uses a 1/4 inch cable, this unit specializes in the electric guitar. The controls are laid out in the familiar pattern of each switch initially selecting a different patch which then can be controlled in more detail by entering the ‘stomp box’ mode which allows the 4 switches to control individual pedals within the sound. Tap tempo is available by pressing and holding the 4th switch, a tuner on the 3rd, there is even a looper function and you can uniquely assign the expression pedal to do what you wish Volume, Wah, or even control some other parameter. It is important to note, however, that these features react a little differently depending on which program you choose to use with your iRig Stomp I/O but there is certainly a lot to work with.
This unit works seamlessly with programs like MainStage, GarageBand, and more but also included with your purchase is a lot of software divided up by purpose and platform, meaning that there are separate programs for just the voice and another for the guitar and both work on Mac or PC. There is also a separate program to use for tablet and/or iPhone users for both the electric guitar and vocals. Make sure to check out the required specifications to see if your device is compatible as not all are.
Pros: Versatile gear that is well constructed and well thought out.
Cons: Included software is a mixed bag of some quality sounds that have a lot of in-app purchases of officially licensed gear (Mac users will find this to be a duplicate of the unofficially licensed gear included for free in GarageBand and MainStage) and while new sounds are being added regularly the reverb section is pretty light on options for the worship guitarist. Lastly, purchases on the computer platform do not transfer to the tablet/phone platform and vice versa so just be aware.
Bottom Line: A pretty solid bridge between the two worlds of live and studio.