Sound — 9
Sound is the main selling point for the StompIO, and it all revolves around the seemingly endless amount of customized options. Whether you want to design your own rigs via the X-Gear software package or tweak your post effects, the StompIO pretty much is your playground. The company has been marketing the product toward the touring musician Who wants top of the line effects with ease. I haven't played any huge venues lately, but I can tell you that it sounded great in small to medium-sized areas. The main issue will be making sure that your computer has the power to load up all of the software. If you have a computer that is more than a few years old, there could be problems, so make sure your computer is capable of handling the massive software files. Considering that there is so much information that has to be uploaded to your computer, it's pretty amazing that there is really no delay or technical glitches that get in the way when you actually start playing -- that was actually one of the best surprises.
Overall Impression — 9
In terms of sound, experimentation, and customizing, there are very few products like the StompIO on the market today. The average gear junkie should have a field day with all of the options, and the USB controller can also be used as a recording interface or integrated with ProTools. The price tag will scare off some people, but then again, there are numerous guitars out there with a much higher asking price. It's accessible enough for even the novice guitarist, but the musicians Who are wanting the best of the best are the ones Who will truly enjoy the multiple options available to create the perfect sound. Other Features: Includes 5 software packages: AmpliTube 2, Ampeg SVX, AmpliTube Jimi Hendrix, AmpliTube Metal*, AmpliTube X-GEAR. 150 superior sounding models, 74 effects. 51 stomps, 26 amps, 33 cabinets, 11 mics and 23 rack effects on 2 rigs. Control your rig on stage. Use it in studio with any DAW. High-end audio interface. Completely expandable. Includes extra bonus disk of 4 software and sounds. AmpliTube Metal available as a download only for previously registered AmpliTube 2 users. USB 2.0 compatible. Class A discrete input preamp. 24 bit A/D and D/A conversion. High performance analog circuitry. Ultra-low audio latency (2ms ASIO buffer size). Instrument input. Direct OUT. Unbalanced STEREO OUT. +4dBu Balanced Output, +20dBu max Output level. Digital S/PDIF OUT. Headphones OUT. 44.1 or 48 kHz operation. >107 dBA SNR A/D. 110 dBA SNR D/A (Bal Outputs).
Reliability & Durability — 9
The StompIO certainly is more petite that a massive rig, and that in itself will be a godsend for touring musicians. In comparison to the average stomp box, of course, it definitely has a more substantial size. It's relatively lightweight, however, and it certainly won't cause a huge issue in transport. If you tend to get rough with your equipment on the road, take heart in knowing that the StompIO does have a pretty sturdy metal construction and a cable safety handle.
Ease of Use — 8
If you're considering building a mini-dream studio in your bedroom or creating a seamless stage show, there's a new Tool out on the market that should give you a leg up on your effects options. IK Multimedia's StompIO is indeed a monster of a stomp box, with over 4,000 presents and 5 extensive effects software packages at your disposal. It has a few similarities to Line 6's POD, but on the same token, the StompIO has thousands more possible effects options that can be customized specifically to your taste. The USB foot controller revolves around the 5 AmpliTube software options, including the AmpliTube 2, the Ampeg SVX, AmpliTube Jimi Hendrix, AmpliTube Metal, and AmpliTube X-Gear. The bad news is that it's somewhat costly for just casually picking it up at your local retail store (retailers have it for about $899 right now), but when you compare it to the price of the actual software you're getting (about $1200 worth), it's a pretty impressive price. Although you connect the product through your computer system, you don't have to keep your eyes on the monitor or keep reaching for your mouse the whole time. There is an LCD display on the StompIO itself, and one of the biggest plusses is the fact that the display is incredibly easy to read and use. Even if you're pushing 6'5, you should still easily get a good read off of the LCD every time you select a different effect. And as far as switching in between effects (be it a Vintage British style, a symphonic metal masterpiece, or a wah solo), the various switches/buttons on the StompIO are easily controlled with a quick touch of your foot. The primary issue with the StompIO is getting started. This is not something you'll be able to fully grasp within the first hour and may lead to a few frustrations here and there. Will that matter to someone Who is wanting the top of the line, multi-faceted gear? Probably not. It took me at least a day to get used to all of the preset functions on the StompIO, but there was a huge sense of accomplishment when I finally did grasp it all. You'll have to put some time and energy to get everything fully understood, but there is an extensive manual for all of your troubleshooting needs. And even if you don't understand it all, you can still immediately plug in and at least sample the astounding amount of effects options.