Smartphones and tablets can sure do a lot of things. They can take photos, be used for taking notes, and yes, even make phone calls, and now, if you’re a guitarist or bassist, they can even take the place of your beloved pedal board.
Announced at CES, Italian audio peripheral company IK Multimedia is looking to the guitar effects part of the world to see what it can do to evolve the area a little bit.
If you don’t know much about guitar and bass effect pedals, all you really need to do is go to a concert and look at the feet of the musician. Generally, you’ll see a bunch of small rectangular boxes with little black squeeze-tops sitting interconnected at the feet of a musician.
These are “pedals”, also called “effects pedals”, and work as interrupt sound mechanisms to take the sound of an instrument and modify it when the pedal is switched on. For instance, you can change the pitch using a pedal, modify the octave, make an instrument sound like there are several instances of it being played such as in a chorus, and if you have the right sort of pedal, even do the Jimi Hendrix thing of making the guitar cry and sing using a “wah-wah” or “cry baby” pedal.
Musicians around the world rely on gadgets like these to make their instruments have a different sound in various parts of the songs they play, but these pedals can add up, and over time, they not only can be a mess to carry around, but are expensive, to boot.
That’s where IK Multimedia is hoping to shake things up this year with an evolution of its own external music solution, the iRig, culminating in the iRig 2.
The new interface takes a small piece of hardware allows you to plug in a guitar or bass, pair of headphones, and your phone or tablet, with IK’s Amplitube software acting as the interrupt to change the sound of the music, sending it back out to an amplifier using a 1/4 inch cable.
This is a tremendous differences to the original, which sent the sound to the phone or tablet, but left it there, meaning you could listen to it and play, but couldn’t amplify the sound at the time, making it more for practicing than actual performance.
With an amplifier port offered in the iRig 2, this is now possible, and the pedal board can essentially shrink, with a musician’s phone or tablet taking the place.
We’re not sure if it will for everyone, that said. Generally, pedal boards are known not just for their ability to change sound, but also because they survive a beating from a musician’s foot, being switched on in the middle of a performance simply by stomping on the pedal, and that’s something we’re not sure most will be game to do with their iPhone, iPad, or Android phone.
Still, the concept is very interesting, and it will be neat to see if and/or how stage musicians use this idea, especially if they’re playing in a very small space.
Pricing for the IK Multimedia iRig 2 hasn’t been announced yet, but previous iRig models have been available in Australia for between $60 and $80, so we don’t expect this to climb over the $100 mark if or when it does eventually land.