ONE OF THE ADVANTAGES OF AMP MODELING software is the plethora of parameters readily controllable in real time. With Native Instrument’s Rig Kontrol for Guitar Rig, IK Multimedia’s StompI/O, or a Behringer FC1010 MIDI foot controller, you can do things—like panning between two amps while simultaneously changing the rate on your flanger and the length of your delay—that are impossible with anything but the most expensive Bradshaw MIDI rig. Still, for some players this might be overkill, as all they may need is an interface for their modeling software and an expression pedal to control their wah, volume, and/or whammy functions. This is where the StealthPedal comes in.
IK Multimedia’s StealthPedal Audio Interface/ Controller is a wah/volume-style pedal that functions as both a USB-powered guitar audio interface/software and a MIDI controller. I tested it using a number of amp modeling software programs: IK’s AmpliTube 2, Ampli- Tube Jimi Hendrix, and AmpliTube Fender in stand-alone mode and as plug-ins—as well as Native Instrument’s Guitar Rig and Overloud’s TH-1 running as plug-ins. All plug-ins were hosted in Ableton Live 8. silent practice and recording, a 1/8" headphone output is provided. A Volume knob controls the output level, or it can be programmed to control software MIDI parameters using the MIDI control software installed with the drivers. This software also allows you to direct all the MIDI functions of the pedal and its switch, as well as any external expression pedal and twin footswitch attached through the provided inputs. A trio of LED indicators act as status lights or, when used with “Powered by Ampli- Tube” software, can operate as a Tuner or a level indicator.
The included software package comprises AmpliTube 2 Live for guitar tones and Ampeg SVX UNO for bass sounds, as well as Ampli- Tube X-Gear, which allows you to expand your tonal palette by purchasing full AmpliTube 2, AmpliTube Metal, AmpliTube Jimi Hendrix, or any other Powered by AmpliTube package. Also provided is Sonoma RiffworksT4, with which you can create songs using loop recording, drums, and effects.
Installing the StealthPedal drivers and software was simple, but what was not clear from the instructions was that you have to install this particular version of X-Gear and use its serial number for authorization. You must do this even if you already own AmpliTube products— including X-Gear. There are a few quirks as to which program needs to be opened and when, but they were easily sorted out. I am far from being a Mr. MIDI, but these days the modeling software from most companies makes external control relatively dummy-proof. When using any of the IK modelers, the first expression effect (like wah or volume) on the stomp board is automatically controlled by the Stealth- Pedal—with its on/off function defaulting to the Stealth’s onboard switch. Should you add an optional expression pedal, the next such effect on the board defaults automatically to that pedal.
Running X-Gear software as a stand alone, I didn’t need the StealthPedal’s MIDI controller software; I could set up the pedal by clicking “Setup” on the X-Gear GUI. I called up a classic Fender Fuzz Wah from IK’s Fender collection for stomp slot one. The StealthPedal defaulted to controlling the wah part of this dual effect. But like the unique original, in addition to going up and down the treadle of this virtual pedal controls the amount of fuzz by moving side to side. I went into setup mode and easily changed the StealthPedal routing to control this side-to-side motion. I now missed the ability to control the wah effect, so I plugged an external expression pedal (a Roland EV-5) into the Stealth’s input and it automatically took over control of the wah. I was now in full control of some whomper stomper-style Tony Joe White swamp fuzz.
The StealthPedal is not just for IK’s software. Thanks to Ableton Live 8’s brilliant handling of third party plug-ins, any parameter in Native Instrument’s Guitar Rig that I clicked, showed up in the Live GUI representation of the Rig plug-in. I could then use Live’s nosweat MIDI mapping to click on the parameter and teach the IK unit to control it by just moving the StealthPedal’s treadle or pressing its switch. Overloud’s TH-1 modeler was handled just as easily, and for that matter, I could control any MIDI parameter in Live itself as well.
The sound of the converters in the pedal is excellent. According to IK, this has been achieved by, among other things, implementing a multiple power supply section that allows it to run at higher internal voltages than those usually found in bus powered devices. This may be why IK recommends that you do not run through a USB hub.
At first glance, the StealthPedal might seem limited as a controller— and if you want instant, spontaneous access to a large number of parameters you are better off with some of the larger units mentioned above—but I can easily think of a number of situations where it would excel. If you are doing a pre-planned show using modeling software, you could step through presets using the StealthPedal’s onboard switch, turning effects on and off by changing presets instead. If your presets were properly programmed in order, it is unlikely that you would need more than the basic pedal to get your through the show. The Volume knob could be set to control a global ambient effect like delay or reverb. Adding optional switches and another expression pedal ups the price quite a bit, but allows for more spontaneous control within a single preset.
For laptop guitar recording on the move or even studio sessions, the StealthPedal is a potential godsend. It alone could easily be all you need to get your sound into the computer and monitor it, while controlling a wah, volume, or pitch pedal. And with its quality converters, you’re practically guaranteed a polished product. g
SPECS | IK Multimedia, (954) 846-9101; ikmultimedia.com
PRICE $269 retail/$199 street
CONTROLS Volume/MIDI control knob, Expression pedal/switch
I/O Hi-Z Balanced instrument inputs, balanced/unbalanced outputs, mini headphone output EXTRAS USB connection, status lights, external footswitch and controller inputs
KUDOS Small footprint. Great sound. Solid build.