DIGITECH IPB-10 - BOX OF TRICKS
Even after all this time, there’s something about the word ‘iPad’ that gets us all excited. Stompbox pedals (for the most part) can come and go, but mention of a new unit that uses an iPad and a downloadable app as its interface and suddenly the tech-head in all of us (that’s the bit that watches Top Gear re-runs on Dave without ever getting bored and sets the Gadget Show to record every single week) gets wildly aroused.
So it goes with the latest invention from the FXperts (see what I did there?) at DigiTech with the iPB-10 multi-effects unit. As you can see from the pictures, it uses the iPad as an interface for the fully functional pedalboard, and as soon as we saw this crazy contraption, we knew (Smeagle-like) it must be ours, master.
DIGITECH IPB-10 - GET SET GO
Out of the box, the iPB-10 is as simple as pie to get started with. Once you’ve downloaded the iPB Nexus app, it’s just so easy to set up and tweak patches by changing the settings on the pedals or adjusting the virtual knobs on the amps on screen. It’s just so much better to do this on the iPad than on those tiny screens and menus that are such a limiting feature on most other multi-effects devices I’ve used. It also means you can use your guitar to seamlessly jam along with iTunes and record directly to programs such as Garageband.
The iPB Nexus app gives a graphical representation of all the adjustable knobs on the various pedals and amps, but the sound processing takes place in the iPB-10 unit itself. You can get some super sounds from the amp models and choose from an array of pedals (all designed to look a bit like familiar products) to colour your sound. These can then be arranged in any order and swapped in and out with drag ’n’ drop ease. If you’re in any way famliar with any other guitar effects or multi-processors then you won’t struggle to get to grips with the iPB-10.
DIGITECH IPB-10 - SATISFYINGLY SOLID
What you might not be able to appreciate from the pictures here is the solidity of the unit. Not only is it a chunky size, but the iPB-10 is also robust with its metal frame and footswitches that give every impression of durability. The iPad is secured into the unit via a latched frame that clunks solidly closed, keeping the iPad snug and secure while leaving the screen surface available to prod and stroke at will.
Connectivity wise, the iPB-10 is extremely versatile with loads of input and output options. You can use your existing cables to plug in a guitar and then send the signal from the system out to an amp, PA, recording desk or headphones. The iPB-10 also includes a USB port for audio streaming.
There’s also a Stomp Loop that lets you include any much-loved ‘physical’ stompboxes into the signal chain and an Amp Loop that allows you to bypass the iPB-10’s amp and cabinet modelling stages and just use the preamp of your existing amp. This latter feature is particularly useful if you already have a great-sounding valve amp.
DIGITECH IPB-10 - TIME TO TEST
Sadly (for me) I am among the lower castes of society as I only have an iPad 1, which is what I used to test out the iPB-10. I’m happy to report that I had no difficulties getting or using the iPB Nexus app. The whole download process is easy for even the un-techie-est guitarist.
I tested the unit with several guitars, some single-coil and some humbuckers and was very pleased to find that the iPB-10 sounds were sufficiently transparent to allow the sonic qualities of (and distinctions between) a Strat and a Tele, for instance, to shine through. The iPB-10 was acting like a proper amplifier of the sound of the guitar itself, rather than simply throwing a bunch of reverb and effects on to the sound to create a generic, over-processed guitar sound that could be adjusted later.
DIGITECH IPB-10 - WHAT'S THAT SOUND?
With the Digitech iPB-10, you can have pretty much whatever sounds you want. If you want just the pedals and no amps, you can leave them off, or you can have the whole signal chain modelled right down to those effects that are going through the effects loop of your virtual amp and those that are going into the front end. I rather like the clean tones and found those to be particuarly good; they even held up while playing at considerable (window-rattling) volume!
The ability to change the sound with ease is very welcome. The advantage of the addition of a clear graphical interface to a great set of amp models is that the sounds can be tweaked and adjusted so easily. There is a clear distinction between this and my previous effects units, where I found that the amp models were difficult to get at, let alone edit!
On some units it can be a right old faff to bring up the mids on an amp model and usually it’s easier to just go looking for a different patch. Not on the iPB-10 though, where you can respond to what you’re hearing and change the sound parameters so easily.
I explored several options for getting the sound out, all of which worked well. First I sent the signal in to the clean channel of a valve amp, but I then found that it sounded very good and arguably better going into an acoustic amp with the EQ levelled off. That seemed to let the difference in the amp models come through more thoroughly. Most of the time I found myself sending the signal into a decent set of headphones with a nice long cable so that I could stand up and play.
I noticed that changing the sounds using the foot pedals was very quick. The image on the iPad screen changes as soon as a switch is engaged, so it’s immediately obvious what pedal you’re using. There’s no lag between engaging the pedal and hearing the change and the tiny lag of the image appearing causes no stress whatsoever.
DIGITECH IPB-10 - TAKING IT EVERYWHERE
I can imagine using the iPB-10 at rehearsals and smaller club gigs and I already know it’s spot-on for practice at home. Of course there are times (pub gigs where pints get spilled, heavy rock gigs where stamping feet can re-arrange my stompbox set-up) when you just wouldn’t want to put an iPad on the floor but that said, the unit still works without the iPad attached. Since the sounds themselves are produced by the actual unit, it’s just the visual editing you’d be missing. Or you could attach the iPad via an extension cable and place it anywhere (safe) you like.
We all know that the iPad travels well, so when out and about, in a café and on the train, it’s been great fun to build imaginary pedalboards from the array of pedal and amp choices available for use when I get home. On several occasions, I found myself trying to recreate the rigs of my fave players (use said iPad to waste hours on guitargeek.com) while waiting for meetings to start.
DIGITECH IPB-10 - A WHOLE NEW WORLD
In a nutshell, the iPB-10 is a great product that keeps delighting. My old multi-effects unit is definitely gonna get dusty! I have the good feeling that I’m only starting to get to grips with its potential - a good example is the recording functions that can be accessed via other apps on the iPad - but I’m looking forward to those vistas opening up.
The iPB-10 carries out its core function of delivering great guitar sounds and multi-effects very well and does so with a high degree of adjustability due to the use of the iPad, allowing you to create your perfect rig wherever you may be.
DIGITECH IPB-10 - TECHIE STUFF
• Chassis: Durable cast-metal
• Sample rate: 44.1kHz
• DSP section: Two audio DNA2 DSP processors
• Modelling: 87 effects pedals, 54 amps, 26 cabinets
• Simultaneous use: 10 pedals + 1 amp + 1 cab per set-up
• Presets: 100 user/factory
• Controls: 10 main footswitches, Stomp Loop, Amp Loop, Up, Down
• Compatible with: iPad and iPad 2
You can also read what our Online Editor, Joe Stachowiak thought of the iPB-10 by clicking HERE!
For more information on the DigiTech iPB-10 Programmable Pedalboard, click the link below: