The Strymon Iridium is a guitar pedal which gives the sound of some iconic amplifiers through a cab in a room. The fact that it can be connected directly to a PA means it’s also a great option for the touring musician.
Read on for a full review of this impressive piece of gear.
Digital Modeling With An Analog Feel
Amp simulation is a contentious topic across even the most forward-thinking guitarist communities, but, considering the jazz world’s penchant for authenticity and OP vintage gear, it’s a particularly incendiary concept.
However, if there’s one bit of digital gear that has a chance of penetrating our analog bubble, it’s the Strymon Iridium, so let’s put this guitar pedal under the microscope, and see what it can do!
Strymon Iridium: Pros and Cons
- Saves you transporting your amps to gigs and practice.
- Insanely intuitive and easy to use.
- Highly accurate, direct tone.
- Built like a tank.
- Looks fantastic.
- Plays nice with other pedals.
- Awesome reverb.
- Stereo out gives you some truly massive sounds.
- Headphone port allows you to practice in silence.
- No recording interface functionality.
- Only three amps to choose from.
- Quite pricey.
Strymon Iridium at a Glance
Is it a pedal? Is it an amp? Is it something else entirely? Well, the folks over at Strymon describe the Iridium as an amp and a cab in a room in a pedal.
The basic idea is that the iridium sits at the end of your signal chain and takes care of all the tonal sculpting you’d usually do on your amplifier.
You can then feed your signal into a recording interface, some monitors, or a larger “in-house” sound system, and even though there are no amps in the vicinity, your sound will have that full-bodied, rich character we associate with the iconic tube amps of yesteryear.
3 Amps and 9 Cabs
Locked into the Iridium are the famous sounds of three classic amps and 9 stunningly realistic cabs (3 per amp).
Impulse Response (IR)
IR technology promises the highest fidelity digital interpretations of the original gear.
A baked-in natural sounding room reverb using Strymon’s infamous algorithms adds some tasteful space to your tone.
Once you find a tone you like, you can save it as a preset using the “Fav” footswitch.
Stereo out means that even though your input signal is mono, your output can be split into two signals and played through two different speakers.
Don’t want to earn the ire of your neighbours? No problem. When using the Iridium, you can plug your headphones in and practice in silence.
How Strymon Iridium Works: Is It Easy To Use?
A lot of digital modeling gear is guilty of giving the user option paralysis. With integrated LCDs and endless menus to navigate, the burden of choice becomes too great, which can stifle creativity.
Well, despite their history of making some of the deepest pedals on the market (we’re looking at you, BigSky), in the Iridium, Strymon has entered the digital modeling sphere with simple grace.
As mentioned earlier, you get three hot-rodded digitisations of classic amps: the 65 Fender Deluxe Reverb, the Vox AC30TB, and the 59 Marshall Plexi. Each has three cab options, and there’s a master reverb as well for giving your digital tones an atmospheric lift.
There’s no deep editing, no baked-in LCDs… just a simple, tactile interface, and these three amplifiers – it’s a wonderfully limited device.
After turning the pedal on with the footswitch to the right, you can use the top left-hand toggle to select your amp, the right-hand toggle to select your cab, then sculpt your tone with the 3-band EQ, Drive, and Reverb knobs – no user manuals or computers required!
To use the “Fav” switch to set a preset, simply dial in your tone, hold the switch down until it blinks, then press it once more to save your settings. It’s a very smooth and immediate system.
However, the downside of simplicity is, of course, a lack of versatility. People who prefer the deeper, more fleshed-out modeling options out there will likely get more of a kick from the similarly-priced Line 6 HX Stomp.
Does Strymon Iridium Sound Good?
The outcome of this whole review hangs on one key question… Does this pedal sound like the amps it’s supposed to be mimicking?
Well, yes: it sounds incredible, especially when you colour the tone with a touch of onboard room reverb.
It’s not always exactly on the money in every conceivable way, as there are very small harmonic deviations here and there, but it’s close enough that you’d be hard-pressed to differentiate between the Iridium and the real deal during an A-B blindfold test.
What’s more, the Iridium plays insanely well with other pedals, so if your board resembles some sort of NASA console, you won’t have to cut things down and move things around to accommodate it.
Okay, But Is The Iridium Good For Jazz?
Another question we need to ask is if the included amp models are suitable for our craft, and the answer is… kind of.
It’s more like 2 out of 3, as Fender and Vox amps are ubiquitous in the jazz scene, but the Marshall Plexi is more rock-oriented, with higher gain, and fewer dynamics.
That’s not to say you can’t use the Plexi setting for some soaring lead sections, but, most of the time, you’ll probably be using the Deluxe Reverb and the very British sounding AC30TB.
As is the case with all Strymon products, the build quality of the Iridium is absolutely outstanding.
It’s based on their typical folded die-cast aluminium blueprint, and it’s tough as nails, so it’s not going to let you down when you’re on the road, and you’re not going to hurt it by stepping on it a little harder than you intended during a show.
The Final Verdict: Is The Strymon Iridium For You?
The tones that this pedal can produce are every bit as precious as its metallic element namesake, and it could indeed replace the amps in your life if that’s something you’re interested in doing.
However, we feel this pedal is aimed more at those who would love to own all their favourite classic amps, but either can’t afford them or simply don’t have the space to accommodate them in their home or studio.
The Iridium would also make a fantastic bedfellow for the touring jazz guitarist who’s sick and tired of lugging their amplifier all over the world. With this pedal in their rig, they can travel light, and keep their valuable vintage gear safe at home.
But it’s not just a performance tool.
The fact that it can produce those really pushed tube tones at much lower volumes than a real tube amp makes it a valuable asset for in-house practice and jam sessions.
Ultimately, we believe Strymon has done an amazing job of making digital modeling more palatable, and, although it’s not for everyone, we think you should at least give Iridium a chance!
We give the Strymon Iridium 4.6/5