You don’t see many guitar effects pedals with large, touch-sensitive screens, but the ability of apps to transform smartphones and related devices will change that, starting in March or April, when Griffin Technology told Evolver.fm that it plans to to release its StompBox effects pedal for the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch.
The Griffin StompBox ($100) is a four-button pedal control that maps to functions within the iShred Live app for Apple iOS, developed by Frontier Design Group, which collaborated with Griffin on the StompBox. Essentially, it’s four foot-activated buttons that connect to an iOS device’s dock connector via a one-meter, “heavy duty” cable, as well as to the ¼-inch cable from your guitar or bass.
Not only does this approach mean you don’t need any other hardware (beyond a guitar and an amp or headphones) in order to use the StompBox, but it takes the digital-to-analog conversion outside of the iOS device, which always results in better sound as any user of Griffin’s iMic, which does the same thing for desktops and laptops, can attest. (Converting analog sound to digital, or vice-versa, on a chip that’s crammed up against a bunch of other electronics adds unwanted noise to the signal – a problem solved by the StompBox and other electronics that do such processing away from the rest of a phone’s or computer’s components).
But is the StompBox a one-trick pony? For now, yes. Griffin’s description of the device says it “can act as an assignable controller for other foot-switch-compatible applications” and mentions that it will “control StompBox-enabled apps,” but Griffin spokeswoman Jackie Ballinger told Evolver.fm that so far, iShred Live is the only application that works with the as-yet-unreleased StompBox.
Given that these are still relatively early days for iOS and other app platforms, we expect to see more similar app-customized hardware down the road for musicians, music fans, and, perhaps especially, those who populate the gray area in between (see also Ion’s iPad mini-keyboard and Numark’s 49-key version).