STRYMON IRIDIUM REVIEW: Summary
The Strymon Iridium is capable of completely replacing your amplifier, saving you from having to lug an amp to a gig or blast too loud while practicing late at night. A hybrid of analog and DSPs, it’s one of the single best-sounding pedal-based amp replacements we’ve ever heard.
I often play guitar in the evening, in my office with my Mesa Recto-Verb combo amp. However, I have four kids who are usually asleep and my wife likes to watch TV in the evening without a ton of noise. All of this is to be expected. While I’ve tried software-based amp models, they just don’t sound as good as the Mesa, especially on higher gain levels.
That’s where the Strymon Iridium comes in.
It’s a pedal capable of completely replacing your amplifier, both at the preamp and power amp level, with a tremendous amount of customization.
It even includes a Mesa speaker cab model.
I got a chance to try the Iridium at a Guitar Center in Midlothian Virginia, and took a few notes for my own Strymon Iridium review. For what it’s worth, after a few minutes with this thing, I was very ready to buy one for myself since I like to record YouTube covers — like this one — and can often only do that in the evening.
Here’s how I scored the unit:
- Overall Tone: 100
- Versatility (modern/vintage): 95
- EQ Comprehension: 82
- Noise Levels: 100
- Additional Filtering: 85
- Wiring: 90
- Build Quality: 95
- Brand Reputation: 100
- Cost: 78
TOTAL SCORE: 92.9
Strymon Iridium Review: Compare to Similar Products
Strymon Iridium: 92.9
- Amp Models
- Cab Models
- Room and gain control
- Headphone out
- Three-band EQ
- Works for bass and acoustic as well
- Filter controls
- Balanced XLR out
Aguilar Tone Hammer
- Sweepable mids
- Balanced XLR out
- Unbalanced out for power amp
EarthQuaker Devices Arrows
- Single level preamp control
- Completely analog
The Iridium’s value is largely related to functionality, but the sound is astoundingly good. It’s one of the only preamp pedals I’ve tried that actually sounded like a real amp and didn’t remind me that I was just using a pedal. Clean tones, in particular, sound really smooth and well-defined, like you’d expect from a tube amp.
I was also impressed with the Mesa cab model and high gain settings. Mesa’s high gain tone is really tricky to replicate.
The Iridium gets close.
Moreover, all the tones and amp models on the Iridium are exceptionally good. It’s easy to tell that those “modes” are not just afterthoughts, but integral parts of the pedal’s functionality and design.
Tone Highlights and Descriptors
- Warm, full clean tone
- Wide range of gain levels between amp models
- Subtle breakup sounds like a Fender tube amp
- As close to a real amp tone quality we’ve ever heard without an actual amp
For a breakdown of the amp models, specific controls, and cabinet simulations, you can check Strymon’s product page.
What I’d like to do, instead of just giving you a fact list, is talk about my experience using the Iridum controls.
Between the three amps and the cabinet models, I found that there were a ton of sounds to explore. While the controls didn’t look complex, they certainly gave you a lot of room to work and to dial in different tones.
The setup is particularly conducive to a recording session where you might bring up a variety of different tones.
Even just tweaking the three-band EQ (bass, middle, and treble) was fun and varied.
It was a little confusing to figure out how to dial in cabs for each amp model. The way the pedal is setup is the three amp models first (round, chime, and punch), then three cab variations (a, b, and c) for each amp model, giving you nine total tone mixtures. The three amp models — round, chime, and punch — are modeled after Fender, VOX, and Marshall amps, in that order.
Once I figured that out, the rest of the controls were fairly straightforward.
Note that the “FAV” switch is just a single stored preset, which is helpful for when you’re done tinkering and you want to bank your go-to sound.
- Three base amp models
- Three cabs for each amp model
- Room control (natural ambience)
- Three-band EQ
Price and Value of the Strymon Iridium
On Sweetwater, the Strymon Iridium is set at nearly $400 retail, which is fairly high for a pedal preamp.
This is similar to price points we saw at Guitar Center, Amazon, and other retailers. If you’re comparing it to the price of the amps it models, the Iridium is certainly a decent compromise.
But, it’s definitely a steep investment if you’re not confident about how often you’ll be using it.
It feels as though you’d be buying your primary amplification source.
When would it be a good fit?
If you’re gigging or recording, and you don’t want to (or can’t) lug an amplifier around with you, the Strymon Iridium can literally replace the entire thing.
For those who are in situations where they don’t play outside their home or studio a lot, the price of the Iridium probably makes it a less ideal option if you’re just wanting to tinker with a few amp models.
With the possible exception of the BigSky, the Iridium has impressed me more than any other Strymon stompbox. Getting that kind of tone quality out of a pedal is a big deal, even in the $400 price range.
It will be well worth the investment for those who often need to go directly into a PA system, mixer, or want to avoid hauling around an amplifier altogether.
The Iridium is a great combination of tone quality, and practical functionality in a single box.
We’re big fans.
Strymon, do not change a thing.
YOUR QUESTIONS AND COMMENTS
Got questions about our Strymon Iridium review? If so, feel free to leave them in the comments section below. I’ll answer there and help out as much as possible.