The Digitech iPB-10 is an innovative device. It’s always fun to review a product that is first in it’s class because there isn’t anything else to compare it to. In short, it’s a virtual pedal board with a hardware interface. It reminds me of one of the offerings from the Line 6 HD series of digital pedal boards but the main difference is that it uses the Apple iPad as the brain. Imagine having all of the effects and amps that you need for your complex (or simple) guitar rig without having to actually carry around all that heavy and sometimes priceless gear. Enter the Digitech iPB10 programable pedal board.
Let’s talk hardware. The pedal board itself has a plethora of stomp buttons and an expression pedal as well as a ton of I/O. For starters you’ve got a high quality 1/4″ guitar input. I found that it sounded great and was very hard to clip no matter how hard I strummed or picked. Something I wish I could say about many other digital effects boxes. Next, we’ve got a pair of 1/4″ I/O for sending the signal to other effects pedals. I found this to be amazing because no matter how much the software has to offer there may be that one boutique pedal you just can’t live without. Then we’ve got another set of 1/4″ I/0 with a ground/lift switch this time for sending out to your favorite amp. I find this exciting for studio use because you may be ok with how the amp models sound for live but when it comes to recording you want to take advantage of a boutique amp or preamplifier the studio has to offer. No promblemo for the iPB-10. Next, we’ve got a pair of 1/4″ outputs with ground/lift switch for going straight to a mixer or PA. You can use just the left output for mono operation. You’ve also got a stereo pair of XLR outputs for connecting to a mixer or PA. They included a 1/8 headphone jack. Here’s where I wish it was 1/4″. Also, a 1/4″ external footswitch jack. Last but not least, you’ve also got 24 bit capable USB port for streaming a stereo audio signal to your Mac or PC. I’d say that Digitech gets an A+ for audio I/O for this device. They thought of everything and then some for both studio and live scenarios. To my ears, everything sounds really good. I have experimented with a variety of amp modelers and even played them live. Nothing has impressed me like this device. I also wasn’t dissatisfied with anything in the signal chain.
In an effort to make this a concise yet informative review I am not going not cover my opinions on each and every effect and amp. I will leave that up to the end user. I am going to focus much more on functionality and workflow here. But for the record, I was extremely impressed with the overall sound quality, responsiveness and accuracy of the DSP modeling at hand. Nice job Digitech! This rivals computer and iOS offerings by many of the heavy weight companies out there.
I want to talk a little bit about how well the device accommodates for your beloved iPad. My unit came fitted for the iPad 2. However, Digitech was nice enough to include a removable tray that allows you to use you’re original iPad as well. I was a bit skeptical about whether or not I would feel comfortable about stuffing my precious iPad into this stomp box. Although, when I saw how well this thing was constructed, almost entirely of metal, I started to feel a little bit better. The bay that holds the iPad has some great rubber lining that is also very reassuring. After I snapped it in and connected the provided 30-pin connector I felt pretty darn good about securing my iPad for a live performance. It by no means would protect it from a nasty beverage spill but it will securely harness it nonetheless.
I want to briefly talk about the software side of this device. A quick search in the App Store for the app titled iPB-Nexus by Digitech allowed me to find the free application. It downloaded and installed perfectly. I immediately began clicking through the different pedalboard presets like a kid in the candy store. The app was very responsive and the tones would change with very little latency. I immediately noticed how good the different blends of distortions sounded. This is something I have been very unimpressed with in similar offerings. I feel like this device has a life time of tones included in the package.
Let’s talk about specs. You’ve got 87 stomp boxes spanning pretty much every category you can think of. You’ve got 56 guitar amp heads and 26 cabinets spanning many decades and many genres. I love the fact that you can research what a particular guitarist used on a particular recording and mimic it with this box. Another noteworthy feature is the included expression pedal. It allows you to control volume swells, Wah, and Whammy just to name a few and really adds to the dynamic nature of this piece. The app claims to have a drag and drop nature to it and it does. It was so great being able to click on the individual stomp boxes and quickly choose a different well known chorus or distortion color. The world is yours with this thing. One super cool feature is the ability to access the digital tuner by pressing and holding any of the preset stomps. It briefly goes to bypass mode (also a nice feature) and then accesses the tuner. Lastly, if you decide to get tweaky you can edit and store tones into the My Tones section which provides you with the opportunity to store, organize and rate your favorite presets. This really adds to the customization of this box.
All and all I think this is an innovative and well crafted device. Not only has it led the way in the iPad multiple-fx box world, but they really did it right. It’s perfect for me because I need to be able to tour on a budget and all I really need is a guitar and this virtual pedal board. If you were worried about authenticity, you don’t have to worry with this box. They even have all the most popular Lexicon reverb algorithms. This thing sounds and feels great and it would take a lot to beat this first-in-it’s-class machine. – Augustus Green