Not a new concept, but a new one from Digitech, this is a stompbox with a brain or more accurately a memory.
Hook up the iStomp to an IOS device (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch), load up the free Stomp Shop App, then choose a model of stomp box (44 and growing), then fire it down the wire to your iStomp. The pedal then takes on the identity of the selected pedal. If the iStomp were an evil genius, it would rule the world with trickery like this...
The four knobs (or less in some cases) then take on the functions of the pedal - you can get stick on labels to make sure you can see what your doing. Unplug the iStomp from the device and it still remembers what it is supposed to be.
There's a good positive footswitch with an LED backlit logo and sturdy knobs, stereo in and out on 1/4 inch jacks, plus a mini-din plug for the iOS device connection and a 9v standard Boss type power jack (no battery operation possible).
Currently there are 44 (and growing) stompbox models to choose from - downloading the free Stomp Shop app lets you browse the available models. You can fire each one down the included cable to audition each one in 5-minute bursts - after which you would need to re-load it from the host iOS device. If you like it, the stomp can be bought via an in-app purchase. Prices range from £0.69 (Red Chorus Detune) to £13.99 (Lexicon Hall). You do get a couple to get you going: Redline Overdrive and totalrecall delay.
We tried a variety of overdrive and distortions and were impressed - Rodent (£6.99), Death Metal m/ (£2.99) and DOD Grunge (£4.99) were a few highlights. Each has it's own authentic character and can be tweaked in the same way as the originals. Where there were less than four knobs on the original, the knobs are simply ignored on the hardware.
A few other highlights for us were the Stone Phase (£6.99), Red Dual Detune (£0.69), Rotator rotary speaker emulator (£8.99), Unplugged (Acoustic simulator £5.49) and Lexicon Hall (£13.99).
Our only real problem was that they sound so good that you sort of want them all, in which case you'd be spending one heck of a lot of $$$ on in-app purchases and still only have one pedal at a time to play. We'd dearly like to see a four-slot version of this pedal, though even if you bought more than one iStomp and loaded it up with your preferred combinations, it's still cheaper than many of the original pedals emulated in these models.
Ideally we'd like to see the app available for other types of smartphones - at least an Android version to avoid us user of "other" devices being left out.
On the whole, we were impressed with the quality of the emulations and would heartily recommend the system for the person who has a hidden pedal collector inside them just waiting to express themselves. For recording, accessing this range of good stompbox models is a no-brainer. For live, we'd like to see a four-instance version.
Street price £100+/-, $149 +/-
Stomp Shop App (itunes link)