If you’re into various genres of Hard Rock and Metal, this is such a great solution for achieving a myriad of tones in such a small package. Having access to Rock, Hard Rock and Metal tones (that range from the 1970s to current) in a four-channel setup definitely puts the challenge to all other amp manufacturers. This may be a 100-watt system (and it is loud!), but its custom power soak technology allows you to get that hi-gain saturated tone with the Master dialed back to under 1-watt – absolutely no loss in tone. The tones themselves are inspirational; clear and cutting best describes it, and the amp does have tube characteristics and dynamic responses, although having but a single nanotube under its hood. Its clarity is not as ‘warm’ as you would find in a traditional tube amp, which is good for remaining clear in the mix, but which may sound a tad ‘sterile’ or ‘cold’ to some ears (particularly the gain channels, although I think it sounds fantastic).
The Clean channel ranges from modestly warm to shimmering, depending how high you place the Volume (since more volume gives you more drive) and whether using the Boost. On that note, when engaged the Boost operates at only one level (a bit louder than without and a decent amount for soloing, etc.); but when turned low you get a clean boost (some note fattening and added overtones) and when turned up there is more drive and note definition. This is likely one of the most ‘useful’ boosts I have used and tend to use it a lot with this amp since it adds such diversity and richness in the tones. The Vintage channel offers up that classic British rock sound and somewhat Marshall Plexi in nature; ideal for Hard Rock, e.g., AC/DC and even Soft Rock when dialing back your guitar’s volume.
The Classic channel has that Brown Sound, with rich grain that simply pops. However, this channel also has a separate Tone control that ranges the sound from woody and edgy to hot-rodded rich and modern. Factor in the Boost and you can go from thick and well-rounded crunch tones to a tone that sizzles and bites. The Modern channel, based on American high-gain sounds, is likewise diverse and is very tight in its delivery. Those who play 7- and 8-string guitars, or use drop-tuning will appreciate this ‘no-mud’ channel. The separate Tone control will have you playing fat screaming leads and hi-gain, all the way to Ultra- and Industrial Metal.
The Amp1 Iridium has some other features that contribute to the sound. The 3-way EQ (Bass, Mid and Treble) is very touch responsive and was designed so that one setting would be very complimentary no matter what channel you’re on. In other words, unless you want a big mid-scoop on one of the channels, you likely will find something pleasant to your ears and it could very well work with all channels, e.g., Bass 7, Mid 5, Treble 6 is my typical setting). Certainly some fine-tuning and tweaking will open up other tonal variations, but they will not be extreme. The Noisegate works exceptionally well. It can be turned off, set to ‘soft’ or ‘Metal.’ The Metal setting is a fast acting noisegate, although it does not cut off lead notes unless you hang there too long. Definitely suitable for heavy chugging and riff work. Using the Metal noisegate setting also automatically shuts off the Reverb (to avoid any premature and unnatural reverb trail endings). The Reverb, based on a spring reverb (although it has some plate qualities to my ears), is very subtle, even when turned all the way up. It was designed to be complimentary and to add fullness to the tone, which it does, rather than be dominant and excessively wet.
The Amp1 Iridium includes its own cab sims, supporting the clear and sparkling nature of the Clean channel, as well as an incredible amount of energy and saturated warmth with the hi-gain channels. This can be bypassed by running the Amp1 Iridium (via the speaker out) to a separate cabinet or cab/IR device. Although I did get some decent alternatives with different sources, including BluGuitar’s BluBOX, I keep going back to the internal cab options.
Designed for pedalboard/floor operation, this is a full-fledged 100 watt amplifier. The channels include Clean, Vintage, Classic and Modern (with those genres geared toward the Metal musician). The Clean channel is reminiscent of Fender, whereas the Vintage offers classic British tones, the Classic that ‘brown sound,’ and the Modern a heavy to ultra/industrial quality. The Classic and Modern channels can be adjusted in tone so that you can get a more ‘vintage’ to a more ‘modern’ sound quality under each channel/preamp. You can adjust the Gain and Master Overdrive to your liking and then adjust the Master volume to an appropriate level (without losing tone quality) so that your output ranges from less than 1-watt to 100-watts. Both the Classic and Modern channels also have independent volume controls so that they can be matched with the Vintage and Clean channels (which has a separate volume control). There is a basic EQ (bass, midrange and treble) control, which works well as a whole and when working among channels (unless you want a lot of mid scoop, there isn’t much tweaking required once you find the tone you like).
You select Channels via the left footswitch (from Clean to a gain channel), although you need to dial select which gain channel you want (Vintage, Classic or Modern). Dial-selecting a gain channel can be avoided if you go into Preset mode and use the three footswitches to change channels and settings (an optional dual footswitch allows you to switch to Clean and to engage/disengage the Boost). The middle footswitch is for Boost, which stays at one level (loud enough to know there is a boost), but which can be adjusted to further develop your tone (turned low = clean boost, whereas turning it up adds more drive and note definition). The right footswitch adds Reverb. The Noisegate function can be left off, turned to ‘soft,’ or to ‘metal,’ the latter of which is more abrupt and ideal for hi-gain chugging (this setting also shuts off the Reverb if you happen to have it on, so that you don’t get odd cutting of the reverb trail). The back panel includes the usual power in, guitar in, line/headphone out and effects loop (that you can run is parallel or series). There’s also an 8 and 16 ohm output for a speaker cabinet (which you also would use if not wanting to use the built-in cab sim and when going to a different cab/IR source). There’s also a Remote in for a two-way footswitch (as described above), a MIDI system or if using the optional Remote 1 controller (for presets, looping, etc.) offered by BluGuitar.