As the device stares at you with its perfectly spaced controls, its uniform demeanour conveys a sense of professionalism. Strymon is a name that has made its way into the hands of some of the worlds top players, and this pedal is no different. So what exactly is it?
Utilising a technology dubbed Matrix modelling, Strymon has captured three amplifiers and locked them behind a switch for you to flick between. So meet your new amplifiers: Round, Chime, and Punch. Their voices will be familiar. Round is a descendant of a Fender Deluxe Reverb. Well known for its cleans and unique break up, the original amplifier had enough power to obliterate your neighbours shed from a distance of roughly 10m. This is why pedals like this have begun to erupt onto the market. It is no secret that advancements in technology have given us the ability to get great sounding guitars at low volume levels. Chime is a local character, sharing the charismatic tonality of the AC30. The AC30 is a great sounding amplifier that would not only break your spine but also your wallet. No more do you have to suffer. Just give in to the (sweet sweet) algorithms. The last destination on this switch lands you in Marshall territory. The final setting really drives home the idea of reduced volume. Imagine bringing an old school Marshall Plexi to your small local venue for a gig. These amplifiers absolutely deserve full respect for their contribution to the history of music but that will not stop the sound guy from trying to fight you if you bring one to a show. On the other side of the spectrum sits the Iridium. Give the sound guy a direct feed from your board and he will be a warm bundle of joy.
The second section your sound will be funnelled through is the Impulse Response Cab. An IR is a sonic photograph. They can be used to capture the sound of a space, or in this case the sound of a speaker. There are many ways of getting your hands on IR’s, you can buy them online, swap them with your mates, or you can even make them yourself. The Iridium allows you to take these digital tone images and put them onto your pedal board. To load your own IR’s you will need to connect the pedal to a computer and use Strymon’s Impulse Response Manager Software. Luckily, this software is easy to understand but if you don’t fancy delving into the software then Strymon has already provided you with nine speakers already loaded. Each amp setting has three different cab options named A, B, and C on the Cab switch. Having teamed up with the well renowned IR company Ownhammer, these preloaded cabs are more then enough to work with and will get you going straight out of the box.
Excitement and curiosity might start to build in the other pedals on your board as they wait their turn to be pummelled through it. The amp simulations and IR’s come into their own when combined with external drives and effects. The front end of the Iridium is an analog Class A JFET pre amp which, when combined with the onboard SHARC DSP, gives you a natural response that allows your sound to breathe. Acting like the lungs in the tonal organism you have created, the Iridium expels guitar tone like minty breath making it the perfect end to your signal chain. Its uniform black anodised metal housing acts like a fortress, protecting the complex algorithms it holds. The finish might seem underwhelming when put next to a flamboyant fuzz that looks like it has been decorated by Banksy on acid, but its lack of want for your attention perfectly epitomises its function. The pedal is replacing traditional backline. There are plenty of examples that break this rule, but for the most part, amps on stage are rarely flash. Often wearing a black tolex with a simple cloth design, they look cool but they are normally reserved. After all, they don’t want to be taking the limelight off the talent.
The size of this pedal gives it an edge over other amplifier alternatives such as the Line 6 Helix or the Kemper Profiler. A stripped back set of controls combined with a standard stomp box surface area makes it an inviting tool for guitarists accustomed to more traditional guitar gear. Removing sub menus and unnecessary parameters makes getting a good sound a quick and painless process. Live bands work in a fast paced work environment which calls for this kind of usability. Quick access to good sounds should be at the heart of all guitar gear design.
The last parameter you have been given is the room knob. The room control utilises a 256 millisecond stereo impulse response combined with a spring reverb emulation for a longer decay time. That’s a lot of fancy complicated sounding suff for a knob whose sole purpose is to add a space for your amplifiers to sit in. The sound of a room has a massive impact on the end result to your sound. If you were to bypass the sound of your room then your tone would be lacking a crucial element and would sound unnatural. When you go direct into your computer without a room emulation for a recording, you will be creating a sound that could only be achieved by ramming your face against a speaker in an anechoic chamber. Simply turn the room knob up for more space. Finally, the foot controls are simple. You have one switch to bypass and the other allows you to save your favourite preset. If you like a sound then just tap and hold the favourite switch to save it. If one preset is not enough then you do have the option to expand with the MultiSwitch Plus or Midi.
This is an awesome pedal with applications that span live performance, recording and practicing.