SMG Review: DigiTech iStomp

DIGIWHO?

As if you need to ask. DigiTech is the offspring of DOD Electronics Corp, who came to market in 1974 with the Phasor, Distortion, and Graphic Equalizer pedals. Recognized worldwide as leaders in signal processing for guitar, DigiTech continually pushes the envelope and has a respected track record for their innovations including multi-effects, looping, the Whammy pedal, and stomp boxes. Maintaining a presence on the cutting edge, DigiTech has released the iStomp: a single pedal with multiple personalities.

iCATCHING

The iStomp comes packaged in a box reminiscent of the ones used for new iPhones: neatly constructed sturdy cardboard with clean, attractive design on a white background. Off to a good start (marketing is everything). Inside, various compartments within the box (more fun package design!) contain the iStomp, predesigned and blank labels, data cable, and power supply with adapters for both US and European outlets – thoughtful. All of these parts are well constructed and durable.

The brains of the iStomp are housed in a rugged metal casing that looks and feels like it could survive a direct hit from a sledge hammer. It’s roughly the same width and length as a standard pedal, but with a lower profile. Features include two 1/4″ input jacks (mono or stereo), two 1/4” output jacks (mono or stereo), multi-pin data jack, 9V DC jack, industrial-grade stomp switch, LED ‘active’ indicator patterned after the DigiTech logo, and four rotary dials for adjusting pedal settings. Four allen screws underneath allow access to the interior, but the pedal is meant to be used with AC power – no battery options on this baby.

STOMPING IN THE 21st CENTURY

There are a few requirements before getting to the good part. First, you’ve gotta have an iSomething with iOS 4.0 or later installed. This could be an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch. You need an iTunes account so you can access Stomp Shop, the app that interfaces between the iStomp and your device. With that in place, you’re good to go.

Stomp Shop is your gateway to a wealth of pedal power and offers a variety of features to serve you. In the ‘Shop’ section there are graphic representations of available pedals categorized on store shelves. Clicking on an item brings up a larger representation of that pedal including a text description, pre-recorded sample, the option to purchase, and (this is my favorite part – why don’t ALL paid apps offer this???) the option to download a 5 minute trial to the iStomp so you can really try before you buy. ‘My Pedals’ is your virtual road case of acquired pedals, ready for upload to the iStomp. Rounding out the app are ‘Settings’ and a very thorough and well designed ‘Help’ section.

Uploading virtual pedals to the iStomp is easy as pie:

  1. Preheat the pedal by connecting it to your iWhatever
  2. Choose your flavor and cook it by clicking on the “Load” button
  3. Impatiently twiddle your thumbs (less than a minute)
  4. Plug in and ROCK OUT!

THE FINAL WRAP

Ah, technology. Shopping for pedals through the virtual store is fun and the fact that you can upload a wide variety of stomp boxes to a real pedal you can integrate with your board opens up options for changing your effects preferences on the fly. The question which I have yet to answer for myself, however, is how this new found flexibility is best used. While the process is simple, changing effects during a live show is not an option. Given the importance of pedal order within an effects chain, switching the iStomp from a chorus effect to an overdrive, for example, may require reorganizing and recabling your board. But options are a good thing and if you tally up the cost of the physical pedal plus every currently available virtual pedal offering (24 as of the time of this writing, between $4.99 – $9.99), that’s pretty good value.

Street Price – $149.99

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  • Since this is a digital upload, can the effects be uploaded to an online storage such as JustCloud? Also, once you pay for an effect, is it yours forever? So when you return to iTunes you can upload the same effect for free? Also, you can have only one effect at a time loaded but can you save the effect on a memory stick? How much memory would be required to do that if it is indeed possible?

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