Digitech iPB-10 Multi Effects Pedal Review
- Pros: User-friendly, wide range of sounds and plenty of footswitches for hands-free control.
- Cons: You need an iPad to really use it and you’re limited in the effects you can use simultaneously.
- Overall: For existing iPad owners, the iPB-10 is great, but otherwise it’s an expensive option.
- Amazon: DigiTech iPB-10 Multi-Effects Pedal
Technology is changing the world around us by the day, and multi-effects pedals are no different. The Digitech iPB-10 uses the iPad as its display screen and user interface; all you have to do is download the free app and dock your iPad into the unit. This idea builds on the smaller iStomp, which you could hook up to an iOS device and load a stompbox model onto. Now you can have up to ten different pedal effects, one amp and one cab model simultaneously on a multi-effects unit with a drastically-improved user interface.
Strangely, the most notable feature of the Digitech iPB-10 is something that isn’t even included when you purchase the unit, the iPad. The free iPB-Nexus app really handles the control of the various parameters and the pedals in your signal chain, but the entire pedal is pretty much a collection of 100 pre-arranged setups without the iPad. Don’t worry though, it doesn’t have to be connected to iPad for you to use it (spilled beer at a gig would be pretty disastrous). Without the iPad, you just lose your display screen and the ability to make on-the-fly edits. If you do want to keep your iPad plugged into the iPB-10 during your gig, it’s pretty well protected – so you’re unlikely to encounter any problems.
There are 54 amplifier models, 26 cabinets and 87 pedals to choose from on the iPad app, so you have ample room for experimentation. This rivals most leading pedals on choice, and the 100 on-board presets – each of which is essentially a pedalboard with ten spots – ensure that you’ll be well-covered in most situations. You could have an entire pedalboard for your classic rock cover band, one for a bone-crunching metal and another for your ultra-experimental side project. In fact, you could have 33 pedalboards for each, and then even more stored on your iPad.
Below the iPad dock there are ten neatly-arranged metallic footswitches, in two rows labeled A to E and 1 to 5. The 100 presets are in 20 banks of five, and the lower row of switches is used to choose from the currently selected bank. You can change banks with the two footswitches to the right of the iPad screen, which means the 100 presets are accessible hands-free. The top row of footswitches is used to activate and de-activate the effects assigned to them. The remaining two footswitches, to the left of the iPad screen, are used to activate the effects loop and the amplifier loop.
You aren’t short of options for connectivity on the Digitech iPB-10. There are stereo outputs for amplifiers or for a PA system/mixer. There are dual 1/4 inch slots for both an effects loop and an amp loop, and you can also plug in headphones or connect to a computer via USB to record. There’s also an output volume pot next to the stereo amp outs.
The iPB-Nexus app is extremely user-friendly, operating mainly through drag-and-drops. You simply tap any element of your signal chain and the alternative options are displayed, and another tap puts one of those in its place. Your amp and cab are shown at the top of the screen, along with dials to adjust the gain, mids, highs and lows, and stompbox-representations of the effects in your chain are shown in the centre of the screen. You can see the other five by scrolling to the next screen. By bringing up the page with your full signal chain, you can move the elements into different positions by simply dragging and dropping, and do the same to apply certain effects to your five footswitches.
Parameters on the Digitech iPB-10 can easily be adjusted using the relevant dial on the on-screen stompbox. You can double-tap it to enlarge the image and then adjust the parameter however you like. Tap the control and then either drag your finger up or down to adjust the effect. The display will tell you the level it’s at in real time. The Digitech iPB-10 is so user-friendly that you could basically operate it based on the past few hundred words worth of information alone. There is an instruction manual with over 70 pages, though.
Digitech iPB-10 Photos
The Future of Effects Pedals?
As with most attempts at amp modeling, the Digitech iPB-10 offers a great representation of the various amps it models, but they don’t really compare to the real thing. There is also a notable degradation in tone as you increase the gain, but you can counteract this a little by plugging into a real amplifier. The effects pedals do a lot better on the whole, but still rarely truly compare to the originals.
There is also a limitation to the specific effects you’re allowed to have together. You’re permitted to use a wah, a compressor, a delay, a reverb, a distortion, a noise gate, an EQ, a volume effect and two modulation effects. This won’t cause a problem in most situations, but if you like to get creative, the ability to do things like combine distortions would be appreciated. You also can’t use the preset select footswitches to operate the other five effects, which would vastly increase your hands-free capabilities when you’re using the unit.
Strangely, the biggest selling-point of the pedal is also its main weakness. If you already have an iPad and you’re confident in the sturdy docking mechanism, then that’s great, but anybody without an iPad or who is afraid of the worst-case scenario is very limited. The effects pedal itself is expensive enough on its own, but with the cost of an iPad thrown in too it gets very expensive. If you’re afraid of breaking your iPad, you can program your presets into the iPB-10 and use it on its own, but you’re left without a display screen. This basically means you have to remember the location of the preset and the five footswitch-controlled effects for each setup you use. This is possible, but the more effects you use the less feasible it becomes.
The iPB-10 represents a fantastic new use for a tablet, and a brilliant development in multi-effects pedals, but the classics will always retain their appeal. However, lugging around an entire pedalboard, 20 feet of cable and countless chunky plugs is quite prohibitive for some players, and if those people happen to also have an iPad the Digitech iPB-10 is absolutely ideal. Otherwise, it might be worth considering another option that doesn’t rely on an additional (and unrelated) piece of technology.