For years, IK Multimedia has given guitar players the ability to build the rig of their dreams or try their hero's setup without cramming a bunch of gear into their apartments — or emptying their savings account. The company's AmpliTube modeling software offers the ability to use popular effects, amps and cabinets via digital modeling rather than the hardware itself. But the app resides on computer or tablet, so it's not exactly the most convenient thing to take on the road. Today, IK Multimedia is debuting the AmpliTube X-GEAR line: a collection of four guitar pedals equipped with versions of the same effects available on the robust desktop software.
The AmpliTube X-GEAR pedals offer options for distortion (X-DRIVE), modulation (X-VIBE), delay (X-TIME) and reverb (X-SPACE). All four pedals are loaded with 16 different effects and IK Multimedia developed new algorithms for both reverb and delay. The company says that despite giving users a different set of tools, each of the X-GEAR devices uses the same hardware and digital signal processing (DSP).
Because these are based on powerful software, IK Multimedia says the X-GEAR pedals work well in both the studio and on stage. With the desktop app (AmpliTube SE is included with the pedals), you can make changes and save settings, including up to 300 presets, back to the hardware pedal as needed. Thanks to up to 192kHz internal processing and oversampling, the company says the X-GEAR pedals can give you the same "realism and response" as AmpliTube on the desktop.
Each X-GEAR pedal is housed in an aluminum shell with 24-bit/192kHz converters to keep noise at a minimum and 5Hz–24kHz frequency response. IK Multimedia says the frequency response combined with an analog dry path and selectable true or soft bypass will allow your guitar's tone to come through unfiltered. When it's time to record, the X-GEAR pedals can serve as a USB interface with a digital audio workstation (DAW). You can select between wet or dry signals, use a stereo output for monitoring and employ full MIDI compatibility. On stage, pair any item in the X-GEAR lineup with an expression pedal and you'll get even more control of each of the parameters on board. There are also five cabinet options on each pedal so you can connect them directly to a PA if needed.
The X-GEAR pedals go on sale in August for $300 each, but you can pre-order them now from the company's website. That price puts IK Multimedia's latest gear just below multi-effects options like Strymon's BlueSky and Mobius pedals. A key difference though is that IK Multimedia is known for mobile audio interfaces, MIDI controllers and software plug-ins while companies like Strymon are well-respected in the guitar world thanks to their established track records. This is really the first time IK Multimedia has built what many would consider "real" effects pedals, so it will be interesting to see if the company successfully leveraged its software expertise for this new hardware.