As the free world becomes an increasingly smaller place, our ability to keep on rocking in it as Neil Young intended is limited only by our ability to enter in the first place. Long gone are the days when a container load of capacitors and transistors is required to get any and every job done. Simultaneously, the internet’s wholesale decimation of the dinosaur labels that dictated rock and roll history has meant that even acts whose star is rising are required to do much of their own heavy lifting on show day. The word ‘downsizing’ has become a big part of touring musicians’ lexicons, and I can only imagine the number of times the question, ‘What if I could just go straight into the PA?’ have been uttered in the past few years. ISP Technologies have the answer in their Stealth Ultra-lite power amp.
Every piece of ISP Technologies kit I’ve spent time with seems to have the same aim in mind. Streamlining the more difficult, outlying troubles facing professional musicians is their niche, and they fulfill that job description with robust, user-friendly units time and time again. The Stealth Ultra-lite takes the minimisation of sonic delivery in stride. It is about the same footprint as a Strymon Big Sky and weighs about as much at a pinch under a pound. Within its sleek, black chassis lies a whopping 180 watts of sheer analogue grunt that, mounted at the output stage of a pedal board, completely negates your need for bulky backline. You have a simple two-way EQ to give the mix engineer an idea of where to steer but other than that, it sends a ton of your signal right where it’s needed most, front of house.
We’ve established the means, now let’s establish the motive. It was only a short while ago, when I had much more spare time than I do now, that I was on one of my many wide eyed wanderings down the YouTube rabbit hole of rig-styles of the rich and famous. On this particular sojourn, I happened upon a video where the swarthy guitarist from (band that shall remain unnamed lest I incriminate my own integrity), having finished walking the viewers through what lay at his feet, began to explain how his corner of the stage remained uncluttered by cab or combo. He was, in fact, going straight from his pedals to the PA via a stomp-box version of the very item I see before me. As the digital world ekes further and further into the world of music thanks to machines like AxeFX, Kemper Profilers and the ilk, this story is becoming increasingly widespread. The ferocious sound of driven tubes is housed neatly behind ones and zeroes with only the delivery of power caging it off from the real world.
While this might stick in the craw of purists in forums around the world, the fact remains that DIs aren’t just for bass players any more. Tone may once have been all in the fingers but it has since spread to laptops, tablets and modeling amplifiers whose only limitation is the direction the signal goes once it is out the other side of the box. ISP Technologies’ Stealth Ultra-lite is not only the most compact mode of tonal transportation, but it is the best way to ensure that all your studio trickery remains undimmed until it reaches your audiences’ ears.
Hits and Misses
Tiny footprint delivering uninterrupted signal right to where it belongs
Bulky power supply
Limited tone shaping capacity