IK Multimedia's new X-Gear range is a series of boutique digital pedals, designed and crafted in Italy. The X-Gear range delivers industry-leading realism and feel with high-quality signal paths and enhanced algorithms derived from IK's legendary AmpliTube modelling technology. The anodised aluminium chassis is sturdy and road-ready, so it won't let you down during a gig. Sam Bell reviews the IK Multimedia Amplitube X Drive.
IK Multimedia have a brilliant range of recording plug in's for your DAW. Perhaps its most well-known product in the guitar community is the Amp Modelling and FX software Amplitube. This software gives guitarists access to brilliant sounding amps and pedals on their desktop that players such as Brian May and Joe Satriani fully approve of.
IK are now bringing their sounds to the stage with their new range of 'X' pedals. There are 4 in the range, in this review I'll be taking a look at the X-Drive. This pedal features 16 Overdrive/Distortion/Boost/Fuzz pedals from their Amplitube range and gives the user the opportunity to incorporate them into their pedalboard rig.
First of all, let's take a look at the detailed specs:
AD/DA with 24bit / 192Khz; frequency response: 5Hz - 24kHz; dynamic range: 123dB; five main parameter knobs; one multifunction encoder. The user has access to 100+ factory presets; 100+ user presets!
Press-and-hold for custom functions; true or soft bypass selectable; bypass function; MIDI implementation; macros to control multiple parameters simultaneously; cabinet simulator with five presets; connections: 1x Instrument In, 1x Expression Pedal In, 2x Main Out, 1x Headphones Out, 1x MIDI In/Out (5-pin DIN), USB and power supply connection; USB connection for Librarian app and audio interface function; and a bright LED display.
But what does this all mean in terms of sound and playability? Is it easy to use? To address the latter, yes. The functioning of the pedal is fairly intuitive; it's nice to be able to control the basic parameters of the drive sounds with the controls along the bottom of the pedal. It's also great when dialling in a sound to be able to 'keep' the EQ and Drive parameters whilst changing the Drive Model.
The drive model's themselves are impressive; you have access to a wide range of classic and popular Drive types. Everything from the classic range from Boss (Overdrive, Distortion, Blues Drive and Heavy Metal), there's also a selection of Fuzz Pedals, a Tube Screamer, Booster and Treble Booster and Amp style drives (Marshall and Modern). All of these models can be further tweaked through the parameter control where you can change the characteristics of the Mid-frequency, the colour (brightness), noise gate, compressor and even cab sim if you wish to use the pedal direct to a desk or interface. If you prefer to edit on a computer and have Amplitube already, you can access the X-Drive within the plug-in and edit from there. Then you can use the Librarian app to export the preset to the pedal itself so you can take it on the road with you.
The sounds themselves are very good, they do exactly what they say on the tin. They are responsive and, in some cases, (my personal opinion) sound better than some of the original pedals that they are modelled on! Being able to run a noise gate/compressor within the pedal as well as a huge bonus, this could free up space on a pedalboard, or leave other pedals on the board to be used in different ways. My only small critique of this pedal is not being able to 'stack' overdrive sounds. For example, imagine how cool it would be to be able to boost the classic Marshall sound with a Treble Booster within a preset. Stacking drives is incredibly important for modern players, and due to the pedal's footprint, it would have been brilliant to be able to combine drives within the unit itself, especially at the price point.
In a nutshell, the X drive is wicked. It's brilliant to be able to have the Amplitube Algorithm on your pedalboard, in a gig-ready format that sounds great and is easy to use. If you're looking for a considerably versatile drive solution for your pedalboard and you love what Amplitube offers, the X Drive is well worth checking out!
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