Sure, it does all that – but does it need to exist?
The concept behind the IK Multimedia iRig Stomp I/O is simple – have a rugged interface for your device that you can bring onstage to access amp modeling, effects, and apps to play with live (or to record, I guess? Sure, why not.) It has 4 footswitches and an expression pedal, and a rubberized platform to hold your phone/tablet/what-have-you. The I/O referenced in the name includes a combo 1/4″/XLR input jack (with a phantom power switch), MIDI In and Out, stereo line level outputs, a headphone out, 2 external footswitch jacks, USB jack, iOS mobile jack, and a DC power input for the proprietary power supply.
The unit is very ruggedly built. It’s metal, which means it is heavy duty, but also just regular heavy. The four footswitches feel solid, like you could step on them a few thousand times with no issue. The expression pedal feels okay, not incredibly nice, not the greatest action, but passable. Overall, the build quality is pretty top notch.
I tested the iRig Stomp I/O pretty thoroughly, and it functions as advertised – it does all the things it says. I was left mostly with questions though – why does this thing exist? Who is it for? What does it do that dedicated modeler boards don’t?
It’s mainly intended to be used with an app such as IK’s AmpliTube amp and effects modeler, or BIAS FX, or a similar modeling app. I’ve used both quite a bit, and I like them – for an app. It’s impressive the sounds you can get from them – for an app. They don’t hold a candle to dedicated modelers. How could they? A completely dedicated processor and code designed in confluence with the hardware will trump a smartphone that’s also meant to run your email app, Tinder, and, you know, a phone, anyday. If nothing else, the sheer options alone in a dedicated modeler and editing power dwarf that of any app.
There are a few applications I can think of that this might be useful for – anyone who wants to use wacky sound apps to make zany EDM noises live, singers who want to process their vocals live, or guitarists who want to play with their backing tracks and modeling in the same unit. These are legitimate uses for this device, but they seem like pretty rare cases and couldn’t be the target market. It’s a gateway for your sound to enter the world of iOs apps, which I admittedly haven’t really dived into in a deep way – I assume that there are some crazy ones
But… why doesn’t it have XLR outputs? Why doesn’t it have a separate XLR and 1/4″ input, which would make it incredibly usable for singer/songwriters who want to strum and sing live with backing tracks and processing (now there’s a market for you, open mics across the country would be flooded with these things)? Why, with all the myriad dedicated guitar floor modelers flooding the market these days, would a guitarist buy this instead, when it doesn’t even have any modeling, processing, or sounds of its own? It’s an interface, cool, everyone needs one of those, for mobile, okay, but not compact enough to put in your gig bag, what, and you have to have an entirely separate thing to make it work – again, I ask, why? With options like the similarly named Line 6 HX Stomp and the similarly priced Mooer GE 200 out there that have all-in-one functionality (and also function as interfaces, although not for mobile), who would choose this instead? Sure, the Stomp I/O is $299 street, where the HX stomp is $599, but with the Stomp I/O you have to factor in the cost of an iOS device (iOS only, folks, no Android version just yet) as well.
Sure, you probably already have one of those – you might even have it on you all the time. But is that something you want to depend on? Plus, when it’s time to actually perform with the thing, you have to go through and turn off all notifications, put it on airplane mode, turn off all the other apps, and, like, pray that you didn’t forget anything. I once saw a performance interrupted by someone’s dad calling them (it didn’t help that the idiot picked up instead of hitting decline).
It’ll work, sure – it’s just… it’s a goddamn liability.
The iRig Stomp I/O is a well-made product that delivers on its promises. But you wouldn’t catch me dead onstage with it, and pretty likely any pros of any stripe either. It’s not IK’s fault – the very nature of the idea makes it untenable, regardless of how well they’ve executed it. It could be used as an interface for sure, a good interface costs at least that much and then you’ve got the added bonus of its functionality as a complete live rig, but for the purpose of a home interface, it’s horrendously bulky and awkward. In our upcoming compact modeler shootout, it’s the 4th largest of 11.
I’m honestly curious who’s using these and why, when there are so many alternatives on the market in this, the golden age of compact modeling technology (thus far), would they choose this one specifically? I’ve used loads of IK Multimedia stuff for so very many different purposes and they make incredibly useful, mostly very well made gear for mobile music production and more. I’ve written reviews singing their praises, and I stand by those. But the Stomp I/O seems to me like a misstep (or a mis-stomp?) for an otherwise stellar lineup of cool gear.
The iRig Stomp I/O has a street price of $299, more info on it at the official IK Multimedia site here.