Strymon's analogue-modelling effects pedals have acquired an enviable reputation — can their first amp simulator live up to it?
California-based Strymon have quickly established a strong reputation for creating top-class effects pedals that emulate analogue gear, so when I heard they were about to release their first amp-modelling pedal I was really keen to try it out. The Iridium combines digital modelling of guitar amps with impulse-responses of cabinet/speaker/mic combinations and a JFET analogue input stage. The digital side of the equation runs on a SHARC ADSP‑21375 DSP chip and an ARM co-processor, while the analogue stage offers up to 20dB of gain and contributes to the natural-sounding way that this pedal overdrives when the input levels are pushed. The whole package comes in the form of a compact and user-friendly, two-footswitch pedal, which runs off an included 9V 500mA PSU.
Some manufacturers dazzle you with a choice of dozens of amp, cab and mic models, but Strymon have gone for a much tighter focus — as shipped, the Iridium offers a choice of just three amplifier types, designated Round, Chime and Punch, and each comes with a choice of three stereo impulse responses of cabinet/speaker/mic combinations. So there's a total of nine different amp/cabinet combinations. These cover lots of useful ground, but you can also load your own IRs, should you feel the need.
The controls are pretty much what you'd expect of a real guitar amp, with Drive, Volume and a three-band EQ section. There's no Presence control, but the EQ stack is tailored to suit each amplifier model. A three-position toggle switch selects the amp type and a similar switch selects the cabinet model. While there are no fancy effects here (the Iridium will, of course, work nicely enough with your other pedals) there is a Room emulation to add a little ambience. This is variable in level and combines synthetic reverb (based on Strymon's reverb-tank algorithm) with a 250ms room impulse response to recreate the sense of the amp being played in a real space. (Without some...