|IK Multimedia Stealth Pedal
Summary: It’s official, IK Multimedia’s StealthPedal has just been released! The new StealthPedal is a lesson in packaging up familiar components to produce something totally unique. This is the first of its kind: A USB-powered guitar audio interface/software controller that you can use for recording or playing live as well as controlling any “Powered By Amplitube” software (or any MIDI-controllable software). With the StealthPedal, IK Multimedia completes the picture in providing an end-to-end computer-based guitar performance and recording solution.
Pros: Truly plug and play, it is automatically recognized by “Powered By Amplitube” software, and requires very little configuration.
Price: $199 Standard Bundle / $399 Deluxe Bundle
• USB powered audio interface and pedal controller
• Control any MIDI controllable software/plug-ins
• Standard Bundle includes AmpliTube 2 Live standalone and plug-in, AmpliTube X-GEAR, Ampeg® SVX UNO standalone and plug-in, Sonoma WireWorks Riffworks™ T4, and AmpliGrooves Loops by Sonic Reality
Tone Bone Score: 5.0 – I love enabling technologies that make anything that I do easier, but also add a ton of value. That can definitely be said of the new StealthPedal from IK Multimedia. A quick glance at picture of the unit, and you may think: Okay, just another pedal-style software controller. It is that, but it is also so very much more!
The StealthPedal is also an extremely easy-to-use, full-functioning analog-digital audio interface that you can use for recording or running modeling software live through your computer. And with 24-bit analog-digital, digital-analog conversion, and 44.1/48 kHz operation, you can count on the SteathPedal to produce high-fidelity sound in the studio an on the stage.
The StealthPedal looks just like a mere expression pedal from the top view. But look at the sides and the input and output jacks belie its humble appearance. On the left side of the pedal are ¼” jacks for right and left output, an 1/8” for headphones, another ¼” jack for a dual-switch external switching unit (extra), and the USB jack. On the right side of the pedal are ¼” jacks for inputs, a volume control knob, and a ¼” jack for plugging in another expression pedal. In other words, this “pedal” packs a punch and is so much more than what it appears!
Wah, wah, wah
It took me awhile to figure out that I had too early versions of X-Gear / Amplitube Fender to be automatically recognized the StealthPedal. My bad entirely. But once I had the right versions installed, adding software stomp effects and controlling them via the StealthPedal was a total breeze! The software automatically assigns the StealthPedal to control the first effect with some default behavior. For instance, with a wah effect plugin, the foot pedal is assigned to the wah effect and the switch is assigned to bypass. But you can change behavior simply by clicking the “setup” button at the top-right of the application window. It can’t get much simpler than that!
In the Studio
But before I even tried using it to control the included Amplitube software, I wanted to see how it performed as an audio interface. In this usage, I was totally blown away! Whereas other audio units such as those from DigiDesign require a software driver to operate (yes, even on the Mac), at least on the Mac, the StealthPedal follows Apple’s lead in design: Plug it in and it just works! So in a very real way the StealthPedal is aptly named as it just does what it does without you knowing how – or having to know how it works! Note that you do need a driver for Windows. But on my Mac, the process to be up and running took less than 5 minutes! That’s incredible!
Launching GarageBand, I just went into the preferences, and selected the StealthPedal as my input and output devices. I ran an unbalanced line from my mic pre-amp into the first input jack of the StealthPedal, added and setup a new track, hit record and started jamming on my guitar that was plugged into my amp. The StealthPedal worked as expected – actually a lot better than I expected because I was expecting only “okay” signal quality, considering the price point of this unit. Boy, was I wrong. The recorded signal was just as clean as my MBox 2, with no apparent shading of any kind. That put a smile on my face. And another thing that really blew me away was that lag was virtually non-existent. There was tiny bit, but nowhere in the realm of the lag that I normally get with my MBox 2. Amazing!
Then plugging my guitar directly into the StealthPedal, I fired up the Amplitube Fender plug-in, selected an amp, and started playing. This was truly the first time I could switch on track monitoring and not get thrown off from the lag!
What’s Not Obvious Is Usually Where the True Power Lays
Think about this carefully because it’s important: The real impact of the StealthPedal is not necessarily in its features, but in what it provides as a solution. As I mentioned above, the StealthPedal completes the picture for IK Multimedia to provide an end-to-end computer-based guitar performance and recording solution. I don’t say this lightly. Not only do they have totally kickass amp and effects modeling, with the StealthPedal, they now have a high-quality, high-fidelity guitar audio interface and software controller! Add to the fact that the StealthPedal requires ZERO setup to use (Mac only, sorry folks), and you’ve got a complete solution for all your computer-based guitar audio. And because the StealthPedal was built to work specifically for “Powered By Amplitube” products, you never have to worry about compatibility problems! I don’t know about you, but that’s just incredible to me. But wait there’s more!
Because it is a MIDI controller, the StealthPedal can also be used with other amp sim software via MIDI. So this just isn’t a solution for the AmpliTube user, it can be used by virtually all recording guitarists, and other musicians as well!
What can I say? I dig the StealthPedal! In the next couple of weeks, I’m going on a trip. Guess what’s coming with me? A guitar, the StealthPedal, a mic pre-amp, a mic, and a couple of cords. That’ll be enough to record any song, and besides the guitar, all that will fit into my computer bag!