IK Multimedia Stealth Pedal

Thursday, May 14, 2009| by Jeff Baker

IK Multimedia, the company responsible for the Amplitube family of amp modeling and effects products and many virtual studio tools, is not new to audio interfaces for instruments. They have released the impressive StompIO unit in the past, a fully-featured DI and control combination which integrates seamlessly with their X-Gear combined powered-by-Amplitube operating environment, as well as StealthPlug, an affordable entryway for guitarists seeking a simple, effective guitar to USB converter. Coming at a price point between those two offerings, StealthPedal, their newest interface, is sure to turn some heads for its remarkable features that are currently unmatched in the industry.

At first StealthPedal appears to be an ordinary, well-finished, rugged wah pedal. It has an attractive black-on-metallic-gray appearance from the top, and a toe-down switch that will be familiar to any wah user – but this is no ordinary wah. There are lateral quarter-inch jacks which provide stereo instrument inputs and outputs, all capable of TRS balanced or unbalanced operation, as well as an input for an additional expression pedal and a dual foot switch. There is a 1/8” stereo headphone output, and a USB jack which provides power in addition to carrying audio and MIDI messages. Also, on the side is a small knob which is a master volume for the interface's output by default, but doubles as a MIDI encoder.

While its control options are exciting, you might be wondering how the unit sounds. IK (drawing on their experience building StompIO's excellent preamp) has done a great job with StealthPedal's DI and it offers a warmth and clarity that rivals or exceeds the best units from other manufacturers. Latency is only a few milliseconds and adjustable to balance stability versus speed. I hear and feel no delay when playing through it live.

As anyone who has used a number of integrated audio interface/controllers knows, products prior to the StealthPedal communicate only with their host software. StealthPedal's most revolutionary feature is that it will happily communicate with anything that accepts MIDI messages. Its built-in expression pedal, foot switch and volume knob (as well as an optional expression pedal and dual foot switch) can all be configured to communicate via MIDI with any software. No longer are guitarists limited to investing additional money in a separate midi controller in addition to their audio interface: IK Multimedia currently leads the market in providing a product which combines high-quality, bus-powered audio interface functions with universal MIDI controller capabilities.

Pulling double-duty as an exceptional audio interface for instruments and a MIDI controller capable of controlling anything you like establishes an exciting precedent...the StealthPedal could end the search for the right audio interface and controller for a frugal guitarist.

The bridge between the StealthPedal and your software is the StealthPedal MIDI Controller application, an intuitive but highly configurable, resource-friendly program which sits quietly in the background translating your interaction with StealthPedal into MIDI while your DAW is free to use only the plug-ins you need. All of the MIDI communications are configurable, and the user is free to store presets for quick recall of profiles to facilitate easy communication with various software. Set it up once and you'll be right back to it quickly any time you need it again. Everything that you need is there: for all functions you can select the channel, the Control Change, and the range of operation minimum and maximum values (zero to 127 by default). You can calibrate the range and select from ten curves to tune the expression pedal precisely to your needs, and the foot switches can be adjusted between latching (toggle) and non-latching (momentary) operation. Apart from Control Change mode, the expression pedals and the side rotary encoder can be set to pitch bend mode and to PRG change as well, while foot switches can be configured for PRG change or to send a single note when depressed. Most DAWS feature effective MIDI learning for easy automation configuration, while modelers sometimes feature robust learning and sometimes have set control change values. With the StealthPedal Midi Controller application, you can quickly and easily configure StealthPedal to work with either setup. That means that you choose how you want to use StealthPedal and its connected extensions from faders or punch-in controllers in your DAW to wah pedals and stomp-boxes in any modeler with automation parameters or MIDI control, the choice is for once in your hands with an integrated audio/control unit on the floor.

Pulling double-duty as an exceptional audio interface for instruments and a MIDI controller capable of controlling anything you like establishes an exciting precedent, made even more impressive by the fact that the standard bundle streets for just $199 which includes Amplitube 2 Live, Ampeg SVX Uno, X-Gear, Riffworks T4, AmpliGrooves Loops, and (for a limited time) Amplitube Metal. A Deluxe bundle is available as well with an estimated street price of $399 including Amplitube 2, Ampeg SVX (full version) as well as the others (including Metal for a limited time). StealthPedal is a statement by IK Multimedia: we can do an audio interface that looks better than yours, sounds better than yours, and does everything that yours cannot – all for less than yours. This might be the beginning of an audio interface arms race. Given its great sound, remarkable functionality and attractively low price, the StealthPedal could end the search for the right audio interface and controller for a frugal guitarist.

Price: $199 USD Standard Bundle, $399 USD Deluxe Bundle
Pros: Sturdy, USB bus-powered, Great sound quality, open ended MIDI implementation
Cons: 32-bit only (though IK Multimedia assures they are working on 64-bit drivers)

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Filed Under: IK Multimedia, Reviews