The Strymon Iridium is an amp modeler and impulse response cabinet. In this article
and episode, we will explore what it is, how it works and the accessibility issues that currently exist.
Thanks to Strymon for their donation!
I would like to thank Strymon for their donation of this and other pedals you will see on the Accessible Guitar podcast, and their support. Strymon is an amazing company to work with. They have donated this pedal specifically for this podcast.
While Strymon is aware that I will be reviewing this pedal for accessibility, they do not know what I will say, and their donation of this equipment does not limit or otherwise change my review. They have not asked or suggested otherwise. They generously provided this, and other pedals to help create this episode.
Getting the gear discussed in this episode.
If you have any questions about purchasing the gear mentioned here, I would highly recommend reaching out to my sales engineer at Sweetwater. Ethan has been instrumental in finding accessibility solutions, providing advice and helping to recommend pedals and configurations that work for my accessibility needs. Contact him by calling (1800) 222-4700, extension 3296, or check out his Sweetwater profile page here! Please let him know you were referred by this project.
Want to support the podcast? Please consider donating via our Patreon. Your donations help cover podcast and blog hosting fees, as well as equipment purchases for demo purposes. If Patreon is not your preferred method of support, please get in touch so we can work something out.
Resources for this episode
You can find the Strymon Iridium manual here. Please note that this is not the easiest manual to read with a screen reader. Strymon is aware of this, but hearing from you might help move things along toward an accessible manual.
The Strymon Iridium Pedal
The iridium is described as an amp modeler and impulse response cabinet. This means that the Iridium is essentially an amp in a box, but you get 3 different amps to work with. The iridium also provides 3 amp cabinets per supplied amp, giving you the ability to further shape your tone.
Physical layout and description
Most of the Strymon pedals have the same type of layout; there is a u-shaped set of knobs toward the back of the pedal. Within these dials are two switches, which can be toggled and have 3 settings. At the bottom of the pedal are two buttons made to be pressed with your feet.
When looking at this pedal, orient it so that the controls are facing up toward the ceiling, with the flat part of the pedal on a hard surface. Make sure that the two peg-shaped buttons are facing you, with the ports on the back of the pedal facing directly away from you. This article assumes this orientation for the description of the top panel.
top panel controls
Starting with the peg-shaped push buttons facing toward you, the bottom left button is ‘favorite’, and the bottom right button is the on/off button. There is no tactile click or way to know if the Iridium is on or off, but you will be able to tell by listening to the sound of a guitar through the pedal.
Moving away from you toward the back of the pedal, you will find four knobs. From left to right, these are: ‘bass’, ‘mid’, ‘treble’, and ‘room’.
The first three buttons are equalizer controls as you would find on most amps. If you point the notch of any of the equalizer knobs toward 12:00 or directly away from you, this is the noon, or unity position. At this position, the signal is not being changed. Turning the knob to the left subtracts, while turning to the right gains. This means that if you were to turn the bass knob all the way to the left, it would decrease the bass in the sound you hear.
The bottom right knob after the equalizer bands is ‘room’. With the knob turned all the way to the left, you will not have any added ambience. This knob adds a bit of reverb to your signal, as if you were playing with an amp in a room. Turning the knob to the right will increase the amount of room ambience added to the signal.
Moving away from you and toward the back of the pedal to the last row, you will find a knob, two switches and a knob from left to right. These are: ‘drive’, ‘amp’, ‘cab’, and ‘level’. The two switches are amp and cab.
The ‘drive’ knob adds gain to your signal. With the ‘drive’ knob all the way to the left, no extra gain is added. Turning it to the right will add gain to the signal. The ‘level’ knob is a volume knob and controls the volume to the headphone port as well as the output ports. All the way to the left is no volume, turning the knob to the right will increase the output volume.
The two switches between the drive and level knobs have three positions. These will be described from top to bottom, where top is the switch being pushed all the way up, far away from you.
The left switch is labeled ‘amp’ and has three settings from top to bottom: ’round’, ‘chime’, and ‘punch’. The right switch is labeled ‘cab’ and also has three settings from top to bottom: ‘a’, ‘b’, and ‘c’.
Front panel port
With the pedal in the orientation described for understanding the top panel controls, the front panel facing you has one single port: a 3.5 MM port for plugging in a set of headphones. This allows you to practice silently and hear the output via headphones.
To best understand the ports and switch on the back panel, it helps to change the orientation of the pedal. Keep the pedal facing upward with the controls facing the ceiling, but rotate it so that the ports on the back are facing you. This will place the two peg-shaped buttons directly opposite facing away from you.
Moving from left to right, you will find four 1/4″ female ports, followed by a DC port. The ports moving from left to right are: ‘input’, ‘out l’, ‘out r’, ‘exp/midi’, and the dc port for powering the pedal.
The ‘input’ port is where you will connect your guitar or pedals to pass signal into the Iridium. You can connect a mono signal, or use a TRS stereo cable to pass stereo input into the Iridium.
‘Output l’ and ‘output r’ are for the left and right outputs of a stereo signal. If you just want the mono signal, connect a single cable to the out L port.
Apart from the 1/4″ ports, you will find a switch and a USB connection. The switch determines how the input signal is handled into the amp and has three settings. From left to right, these are: ‘mono’, ‘stereo’, and ‘sum’.
With the switch in the ‘mono’ position, the input port will be treated as mono. With the switch in the middle, the input will expect a stereo signal, and in the ‘sum’ position, a stereo signal will be expected which will be summed to mono and sent to the ‘out l’ port.
Characteristics of the pedal
The switch on the left, with the pedal oriented so that the peg-shaped buttons are facing you will determine which amp is used. As mentioned above, the settings starting from top to bottom are: ’round’, ‘chime’, and ‘punch’.
The manual describes the Round amp as:
Based on a Fender® Deluxe Reverb®, this amp is clean, bright, and mid-scooped, with plenty of headroom. While preserving access to all the tones originally available from the Deluxe’s Normal channel, our amp gives you something extra: a midrange control. With the MIDDLE knob at noon, you get the original fixed-resistor value and standard tonal characteristics of the Deluxe. Turn down the MIDDLE control for a more scooped sound, or turn it up for tweed-era tones.
The cabs in the ’round’ amp are as follows:
- a: 1×12 Fender® Deluxe Reverb®
- b: 1×12 Fender® Blues Junior®
- c: 2×10 Fender® Vibrolux®
The manual describes the Phime amp as:
Based on the Brilliant channel of a Vox® AC30TB, this amp is jangly and bright, providing air for subtle passages with a light touch, and bite when you want to dig in. The MIDDLE knob acts a tone cut knob, providing high-end roll-off just before the power tubes, per the AC30TB design. In addition to the full available gain of the original amp, toward the top end of the DRIVE knob’s range of travel, we’ve added a frequency-shaped front end boost to tighten the low end while driving the amp further into saturation.
The cabs in the ‘chime’ amp are as follows:
- a: 2×12 Vox® AC30-6 open back fawn
- b: 1×12 Custom cab w/ Celestion® Blue AlNiCo
- c: 4×12 Mesa/Boogie® Half-Back®
The manual describes the Punch amp as:
Based on a Marshall® Plexi (Super Lead model number 1959), this powerful amp is meatier, with higher gain than the other two amps, and has a powerful midrange response. This amp features a buttery, smooth overdrive. Setting the DRIVE control at around 2 o’clock gets you the maximum gain the original Plexi design allowed. Turn the DRIVE beyond 2 o’clock to access custom hot-rodded Plexi high gain tones.
The cabs in the punch amp are as follows:
- a: 4×12 Marshall® w/ Celestion® G12M-25s
- b: 2×12 Custom cab w/ Celestion® Vintage 30s
- c: 8×12 Marshall® w/ Celestion® T652s
Accessibility issues with this pedal.
While this pedal is versatile and powerful, there are a lot of settings that expect you to be able to see the LEDs, including but not limited to setting favorites, adjusting room size, and many more. This article also did not cover use of the USB port: this is for loading up your own IR cabs through the Strymon impulse manager.
While I tried to find ways to describe the other features of this pedal so that you do not need to rely on the light to use it, this is not easy to convey. I have two pedals and I find that between the two pedals the timing isn’t the same at certain points. It is also not possible to use the Strymon Impulse manager to load up other cabs into your Iridium without sighted help; I could not manage to use this with any screen reader on Windows.
Strymon knows of these issues, and is aware and working to resolve them. They do have a lot on their plate and are a smaller company, so please reach out to them with any accessibility concerns you might have.