gio1

The market is clear: guitarists (and other instrumentalists) want to plug in a piece of hardware, fire up their Mac, and start playing with GarageBand right away. The announcement of Apple’s new Logic Studio 9 last week coincided with the release of new hardware from Apogee, the audio vendor that has gone Mac-only and Apple-centric. Today during a meeting with Apple, I got my first in-person look at the GiO (pronounced “Geo,” like the compact car, not G.I.O. as would rhyme with G.I. Joe).

A number of impressions that I didn’t get from the press announcement:

The hardware looks great. It’s tough to describe until you see in person, but while it seems to look almost cheap or toy-like in photos, the hardware is quite substantial, solid, and attractive. It’s also nice to see a pedalboard that’s fairly simple, with ample clearance between controls – essential for playing with your feet.

It has awesome colored lights. No, really. Not only do the lights change color, but they’re actually color coded. So you can see, for instance, which stompboxes you’re using based on the color.

It uses MIDI. Let’s get this out of the way. Apogee made such a big deal of saying this was compatible with GarageBand and Logic that I began to wonder if they’d somehow found a way to make something as simple as a pedalboard incompatible with everything else! Not so – the GiO just sends standard MIDI over USB. I’ll have to ask Apogee how this maps, and you may still be Mac-only assuming they wrote their own drivers. But I would imagine at the very least, if you want to swap between Logic and AmpliTube or Logic, you should be okay.

GiO [Apogee Digital]

If you’re in love with Logic and GarageBand, GiO looks quite nice. $399 would be steep for a few buttons for your feet, but in a nice housing with an audio interface, if you get heavy use out of it, you may feel differently. You get integrated control, low-latency audio (instrument in + line out), 5 stompbox buttons + 5 transport controls + next/previous controls, and expression control. Of course, this is not news if you’re happy with similar solutions from IK Multimedia, Line6, Native Instruments, and WAVES – all of which also have impressive software and integrated hardware. And there’s nothing stopping you from using that hardware, or other MIDI pedalboards, even with Logic. And I’ll just keep dreaming of a thin-but-large magical pedalboard that I can toss in a bag with a laptop. My feet need more to do.

gio2

  • http://friendfeed.com/dmlandrum Darren Landrum

    It needs the continuous controller pedal that can be mapped to a wah or volume or other filter. Other than that, it looks nice.

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Darren, you just have to connect an external pedal to it… though, yes, you wonder if they considered just building it in.

  • http://friendfeed.com/dmlandrum Darren Landrum

    Oh, duh! It does have an expression pedal input. Sorry, I just wasn't paying attention.

  • http://pooteeweet.org DJ SD

    Yeah, would be nice to get a nice full features pedal board without an audio interface. I guess a dancedancerev thingi is nicely foldable .. but a bit too oversize when unfolded :)

  • http://www.marcoraaphorst.com Marco Raaphorst

    what a closed lockin hardware device this is. no audio units support, just Logic and Garageband?

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Marco, that was my point – it's a MIDI controller. And all the integration with Logic and GarageBand is via MIDI. So there really isn't lock-in; Apogee has just chosen to do its presets — and its marketing — for the Apple products.

  • http://www.johnpazdan.com jp

    I have that thin portable pedalboard dream too. The behringer is the only one that is close (and not all that close either), unless someone reading this would like to make one.

    hint…hint…etc.

    This is for performing live..so at least two treadles…all open source controls/communication..

    With all the netbooks and indamimix and nanos and portable portable portable, there's still no real world foot controller..or is there?

  • djraag

    Wish they would have included stereo "Line In" for recording other devices besides guitar. This is a deal killer for for as I need another interface for recording other devices. Moreover 400 bucks is too steep for a mono input device, in comeparation to other devices on the market.

  • http://truechiptilldeath.com peter

    If they could only make a compact one, with expression pedal and at most three foot switches.. im sold. Nothing us non us pedal board aspirations?

  • jp

    Peter..isn't the Moog usb thing just what you described?

    talk about over $$ though.

  • http://www.prospectmusic.com prospect

    I was skeptical at first but this review makes me want one!

    The price is steep but it sure does look nice.

    My impulsive thought now is; "Damn I need more USB ports!"

  • Brian

    A friend of mine is testing the GiO and told me that this is not like other I/O (at least nothing I know of). The input is actually designed specifically for a guitar. I'm not sure what that means, but probably some kind of impedance or drive stage. I'm probably going to get this wrong, but it has some kind of limiter or similar mechanism designed to avoid clipping before the converter. That sounds like reason enough to pay a bit more. I know Waves has the PRS for input conditioner, but that still requires a converter as well. So if you consider this and more is built into the input stage, that's pretty cool. I don't know the price seems pretty great for a simple I/O pedalboard. If the i/o quality is up to par with Apogee, it seems like it would be a bit of a steal to me.

    Peter, did you learn when it would be available? I'd definitely like to listen to one.

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Hi Brian,

    Nothing you're describing there is unusual. The input is matched to the impedance of a guitar — but so are plenty of other interfaces. And all digital converters have some kind of limiting mechanism prior to conversion. You can engineer these things better, that'll make a difference, but not a *fundamental* difference.

    I do think the Moog is a much more interesting foot controller – just as a controller. The GiO might make sense to Logic and GarageBand users. And the use of colored lights is interesting, a unique idea we could see elsewhere. I think otherwise it's going to have relatively limited appeal. But then, like I said, if this solves your problems and it fits with your workflow and you like it, you know, then that's another matter — then a little extra cost isn't a deal killer.

  • Howard

    Check out the StealthSwitch II for inexpensive full featured fully programmable USB footswitches for MAC and PC. Supports up to 5 foot pedals – can even use your own non-latching guitar foot pedals. Program keystrokes, hotkeys, mouse clicks
    http://www.stealthswitch2.com

  • http://www.myspace.com/postjones Damien

    The GiO is freaking amazing, if you have a Mac and you are a muso, you probably have Logic already. I wanted to build a dream pedal board, I wanted a looping station (approx $200), so for an extra $200 you have have all this an much more.

    Using Mainstage 2 you can even split the signal (compare that to using a stomp box set up with split signal), this really is a USB controlled "apple/apogee" rack system, at a fraction of the cost of a rack unit and foot controller.

    If you have any audio engineering knowledge, I am sure the amount of sounds possible out of the GiO and Main Stage is phenomenal.

    For the price of 3 stomp boxes, this is a no brainer.

    I for one am sold on it and can not wait until it's release. Thumbs up Apogee and Apple.

  • J. Phoenix

    Interesting direction to take. I wouldn't have expected that device from Apogee.

    There's a part of me that wonders if this ties more into the emerging guitar hero/rockband converts to garageband–or whether its a response to the plethora of guitar/effects/vst devices that are making their way into the world.

    I'm happy with my FCB1010 & a midi~usb thus far. Only Behringer device I've been completely satisfied with.

    The day the FCB1010 came in the mail was the same day I watched the first video of the Moog foot pedal…and I think when I look for a replacement I'll get one of those babies. Sorry apogee.

  • http://www.timbrownmusic.com Tim Brown

    Hi,

    I'm very interested. I want to use it for guitar (obviously), but as a solo musician would I be able to use different effects for my vocals and trigger them through this pedalboard? I understand I'd need another i/o, perhaps the Duet.

    One more question: could I loop guitar and vocals?

  • DBK San Francisco

    Has anybody found a review that tests the latency of the GIO system? This sounds like a live gig dream come true but digital latency drives me crazy. I have a Focusrite Saffire firewire interface and even that has some noticeable delay, so maybe I'm being unrealistic with a dream of a USB-based low-latency guitar input solution. :)

  • Kak

    can I just map my old GT-6 multi pedal board to do the same thing in main stage 2? Or what other interesting ways can I utilize the gt6 with mainstage?

  • http://www.dougrobertscreative.com Doug

    One thing not talked about is the quality of the converters in the GiO. This is Apogee converters which a far superior to those found in most similarly prices I/O boxes. The sound difference is not subtle, but in your face obvious. The price seems like the bargain of the century when you figure that this is both an Apogee I/O AND and MIDI foot controller.

    The Waves pedal board is about the same price and does NOT include any I/O. The GiO does have an input for a continuous controller pedal and its size will allow it to fit a backpack (like one from Namba) along with your laptop and other stuff, giving you a complete mobile rig you can carry with you on a plane. The Waves controller is too large for this, though I do like having the 2 continuous controller pedals on the Waves pedal board.

    So, in conclusion, if I already had a great audio I/O such as an Apogee Duet, and I was not flying with my rig, I would strongly consider the Waves pedal board. If, however, I needed both the I/O and controller and/or I was going to be flying a lot with my rig, I would without question go with the GiO.

  • Frank

    Has anybody found a review that tests the latency of the GIO system? If you incorporate the Duet by Apogee (Although the Duet isn't necessary to hookup the GIO but it does have it's advantages 1 very important one latency control)

    I guarantee you it will end latency issues and if you can't (3rd party software is where it is coming from) it's the lowest if not any at times latency. Use Activity monitor in utilities to see for yourself using 3rd party plug-ins are the main culprit of latency issues. I love the way Apple's Mainstage 2/Logic Pro 2 and Apogee have come together to come up with the best live setup available. Who else has available the use of 64-bit? Which btw reduces CPU usage and helps with latency.

    Everyone else is still stuck @ 32bit!

    All you need is your (MacBook Pro w/8gig of memory laptop) computer, plenty of CPU the GIO and another Floor Midi-Controller (if you want to) like Roland's FC-300 and your golden. Also the other great thing is you can use NI-Guitar Rig or any other program and use them as plug-ins on your patches/channel strips brilliant! (Beware of 3rd party plug-in latency) Even the VG-99 by Roland can be incorporated with Logic Pro 9.2 and Mainstage 2.0.

    I'm a converted long time pedal board user. Trust me after 30 years of playing this setup is a dream for any musician no matter what you play. Nothing out there that can top the endless possibilities. Best of all no more breaking your back moving heavy equipment. Where else can you get a complete EBV3 you don't have to carry?

    A cable (highly recommended in case of issues- Hosa Dual Y-cable XLR3M is one) to make the old unhappy Bob Seger loving soundman who don't like seeing computers on stage happy :-)

    Keep on Rocking!