A 16-in-one solution to all your modulation needs comes at a high price, but with ample room for customization and flexibility.
Announced during the relatively quiet Summer NAMM, IK Multimedia has firmly entered the pedal world after dipping their toes in a few years back. The X-VIBE is an entirely new beast however, packing their popular AmpliTube software into this all-in-one solution for modulation effects. With 16 different effect algorithms, you can make use of 50 loaded presets from the factory, with storage for 300 total presets. These presets can be managed via your computer, making them much more user friendly, via the USB port. This USB port also doubles as a connection for using this X-VIBE as a recording interface.
There’s also MIDI functionality, letting you automate your modulation effects as much or as little as you prefer. While I myself will be using this a more simple multi-effect, the programming power of the X-VIBE is immense for stereo or mono rigs alike. There’s a wide range of effects, including different chorus, phaser, flanger, tremolo, and rotary speaker modes. Some famous modulation models like the MXR Phase 90, EHX Electric Mistress, EHX Small Stone, and Roland RS chorus are built-in as well. Though you have total control thanks to typical speed and depth controls, which are paired with a 3-band EQ. Plus, the parameter knob controls a different factor for each effect that you’ve engaged, given you more flexibility when programming your X-VIBE.
Review & Opinion
The main calling card here is versatility, as the X-Vibe can totally replace the 4 modulation pedals I’ve been keeping on my board full time. My CH-1, TR-2, Phase 90, and Electric Mistress can be very easily replaced, thanks to the sound-alike AmpliTube alternatives. The Phase 90 and Electric Mistress models in the X-Vibe are dead ringers, and I’m not playing vintage, sought after versions of those pedals anyway. So this is a completely viable option where I’ve noticed no real difference in the sound of my standalone pedals versus these algorithms.
I’m sure that some more high end modulation effects might not be easily replicated via the X-VIBE, or at least I haven’t been able to dial those tones in myself yet. So if you’re board is loaded with things like a Polychrome Flanger, a Warped Vinyl, etc…you will have to work harder to get the X-VIBE locked in. However, if you’re like me and use pretty standard mods because you grew up listening to London Calling, Regatta de Blanc, or She Sells Sanctuary, this is a phenomenal sounding product.
What the X-VIBE excels in though is tweak-ability of these classic sounds, even adding in some unexpectedly useful modes like Step Filter and Step Slicer. The sound quality is all there, providing a bit more analog warmth than I expected for some of these classic effects. But to discuss each in detail would take up, well, 16 pedals worth of reviews. What does make a big difference is the ability to control the EQ of your modulation voice, which is uncommon on most standard pedals. The Bass, Mid, and Treble knobs open up a lot more texture within the Phase 90 voice or super chorus mode. This is where most musicians, myself included, will really spend time dialing in the X-VIBE to better suit their guitar or amps’ unique characteristics.
Conclusion & Final Score: 8.3 out of 10
Overall, the X-VIBE is a phenomenal solution to your guitar modulation needs if you’re willing to spend the time tweaking these classic algorithms to your specific liking. It will never be as novel as insane modulation pedals rolling out of boutique builders these days, but it will always supplant the old classics.
You should see this is as 16 modulation pedals for $400, which compares favorably to the $300+ I spent on my TR-2, CH-1, Phase 90, and Electric Mistress pedals. Which have far less tone shaping potential, no onboard programmability, and require 4 distinct 9v power supplies to the X-VIBES one. So you can see how this can be convenient solution for many players. It’s also worth noting you get a full virtual suite of these X-VIBE effects when you buy the hardware, pedal product. So essentially, you get the pedal and all the plug-in versions, providing solid value for the money.