If you’re trying to place where you know the name IK Multimedia from, it’s most likely from their legendary Amplitube plugin range, or perhaps from their iOS specific interface, the iRig series. What you may not know is that they now also have a range of pedals that bring their digital modeling and emulation capabilities to the convenience of your pedal board.
The all new IK Multimedia TONEX Pedal/Amplifier/Cabinet/Pedal Modeler is an absolute powerhouse of a pedal that delivers a multitude of features to suit a wide range of players. We were lucky enough to get our hands on this awesome new pedal for this latest KillerGuitarRigs Review courtesy of Sweetwater, but we’ll frame that by letting you know up front that all thoughts and opinions were very much our own.
If you’ve been thinking about dipping into the world of digital modeling, or taking the plunge and replacing your full rig with a pedal, you’ll definitely want to keep on reading!
Who is This For?
One thing IK Multimedia have always been known for is just how user friendly their plugins are, and the IK Multimedia TONEX pedal is no different. Taking this into account, we’d say that this pedal is suitable for players of all ability levels (both guitarists and bass players). Beginners will get the benefit of all the processing and modeling power in a compact, easy to use package.
Intermediate and advanced players will love that it has room for custom IRs, and up to 150 rig models. The USB interface functionality also makes it a great choice for anybody who wants to get into home recording, too.
Appearance / Features / Controls
As mentioned, the TONEX is in a stompbox form factor. It’s relatively compact, measuring just 6.92” x 5.59”, and at 2 lb even, it’s pretty lightweight, too. Even though it’s light, this is actually a rock solid pedal, built with a heavy duty aluminum chassis.
Effectively, the Tonex pedal serves as a conduit for the TONEX software, allowing you to access the same features without the need for a computer. With that in mind, it has an incredibly simple control set that allows even novice players to make their way through all the controls with minimal instruction.
There are 8 dual function knobs, and 3 stomp switches. The knobs cover parameter, gain, bass, mids, treble, and volume, and with a push of the “alt” button, also cover reverb, compression, noise gate, presence, and depth. There are 2 additional controls for presets, and models.
The three footswitches were there purely to switch up and down between banks.
It has capacity to hold up to 150 TONEX models, which include pedal emulations, amps, cabinets, and combinations of the above as full rig profiles. The included TONEX software comes with 1000 premium tone models that you can choose from and upload into the pedal, but you’ll also gain access to the full Amplitube 5 Suite, and ToneNET, which is the IK Multimedia community for user made models.
The software even allows for capturing IRs of your own amps, pedals, and cabs, effectively making this one of the most affordable profilers on the market. In addition to the masses of functionality it brings as a modeler, it also doubles up as a fully functional USB interface, meaning you can record straight to your DAW without the need for additional equipment.
Performance / Sound
We’ve used Amplitube and TONEX before, but having access to the power of that software in a pedal form factor was really a game changer. Amplitube was really one of the first amp modeling plugins on the market, and bringing that kind of tech into a high quality pedal that can be used and adjusted live without the need for a computer was really exciting.
For the most part, we used the TONEX pedal as an amp and cab replacement, and ran an actual pedal chain through the FX loop. Our signal chain included a Tube Screamer, a Strymon Big Sky, and a Cry Baby Wah, all run through the FX loop, and then we ran the TONEX out to a Line 6 Powercab 112 Plus.
As mentioned, it did come with a number of utility FX, including reverb, a compressor, and a noise gate. We found these features to be pretty handy, especially the noise gate and compressor. The noise gate effectively tamed the Tube screamer we were running into the loop, and the compressor gave a nice boost to the clean tones.
We were really blown away by the quality of the Premium Tone models. As far as the average person is concerned, there’s no way you’d really be able to tell the difference between a model coming from this pedal, a Quad Cortex, or even the real thing.
Moving between settings was really quite easy, although compared to something like a Quad Cortex or a Helix, the built in functionality was fairly limited. The TONEX pedal is really designed to be a companion to the software, and in the majority of cases, you’d really want to play with your settings on the computer and transfer them to the pedal, whereas with the aforementioned pedals, there’s a lot more scope to create new rigs right from the pedal controls.
The one negative point about the controls was that when switching between our presets, it doesn’t cycle back to the beginning, so when you hit the last bank, you need to turn the dial all the way back the other direction to get back to the first bank.
While it clearly wasn’t intended to be a pedal we could build rigs with on the fly, the physical control set really made it feel like we were adjusting a real amp. Having the actual dials made it so easy to tweak and fine tune our sound, and we really loved that about the TONEX pedal.
The cool thing about the TONEX pedal is that if you don’t want to, you don’t have to replace your rig with it. You could opt to just use it as an FX pedal within your signal chain.
It is worth noting that due to the way in which the TONEX works, in order to have it run a combination of pedals simultaneously as a rig, you’d need to merge those profiles in Amplitube, then move them to the TONEX pedal via the TONEX software. This is why when using it as a pedal, it’s best to stick to a single effect.
Final Thoughts on the IK Multimedia TONEX Pedal Amplifier/Cabinet/Pedal Modeler
We really loved getting to know the IK Multimedia TONEX Pedal Amplifier/Cabinet/Pedal Modeler. The vast online community for IK Multimedia plugins means that there are practically unlimited options when it comes to finding new presets to play with, and the companion software is super intuitive, so even newer players shouldn’t have much difficulty in navigating it.
The pedal itself was generally very easy to use, and the sound quality was absolutely superb. Many of the models offered some insane amounts of gain, so having the built in noise gate was fantastic, and the pedal’s ability to reproduce the models through our FRFR speaker was incredible for something so affordable.
The fact that it can also take on profiling is also insane – especially seeing as it’s about a quarter of the price of a Quad Cortex or a Kemper!
In all, we think anybody who is looking to start incorporating some modeling into their sound will definitely gel with this pedal. Even if you’re looking to replace your amp lock, stock, and barrel, it’s an affordable path to doing so, and as an added bonus, it also happens to come with some of the best plugins you’ll find anywhere!