If you’ve been lusting after Kemper, Fractal, or Line 6 amp modelers but fear they’d be overkill for your brain or wallet, the Boss IR-200 is among the most stacked—yet relatively simple and straightforward—alternatives you could consider.


Boss IR-200 Review by premierguitar

Recorded with a Schecter Ultra III’s TV Jones Magna’Tron bridge pickup into IR-200, then an Audient iD44 interface feeding GarageBand with no EQ-ing, compression, or effects.

  • 0:00: Bogner Überschall w/IR of Vintage 30-loaded 4×12 miked with a Royer, an SM57 & a Sennheiser
  • 0:16: Bassman 4×10 w/ IR of close-miked Sennheiser MD-421
  • 0:25: Bassman w/ IR of close-miked Royer R-121
  • 0:34: Bassman w/ IR of close-miked Neumann U 87
  • 0:44: Bassman w/ IR of distance-miked Neumann U 87
  • 0:53: Bassman w/ IR of close-miked AKG C451B
  • 1:03: Bassman w/ IR of distance-miked AKG C451B
  • 1:12: Bassman w/ IR of close-miked Shure SM57
  • 1:21: Bassman w/ IR of distance-miked Shure SM57

The high points: 128 presets, eight core amp models (including Fender, Marshall, Vox, Bogner, and Roland homages), 244 cab and mic IRs (including Shure, Royer, AKG, Sennheiser, and Neumann nods), three reverbs (hall, studio, room), and stereo, MIDI, effects-loop, USB, headphone, auxiliary-input, and footswitch/expression-pedal connectivity. (IR loader software is available for Windows and iOS.)

If your budget has never allowed you to tinker with pricey microphones, it’ll be a treat to hear the sorts of tonal nuances the IR-200’s virtual microphone locker can avail.

The IR-200 interface is, for the most part, very intuitive, with top-mounted controls for traditional amp functions—gain, level, bass, middle, treble—two footswitches for advancing patches, menu and exit buttons, and four slightly larger dual-function knobs for navigating memory slots and editing amp, cab, microphone, ambience, and other parameters.

Upon power-up, opening presets like “Natural 1” and “JC-120 1” may not excite tube-amp addicts, and factory noise-suppressor settings are a bit stringent—which can work against the feeling of “realness” in otherwise really good amp models—but thankfully the latter is a cinch to tweak, thanks to simple screen prompts and smart architecture. No matter what the preset, the same sequence of three button/knob pushes accesses threshold and release settings. Once you’ve tailored these and other subtleties to your preference, you’ll find that the tones inspired by the aforementioned classic amps are damn impressive. And if your budget has never allowed you to tinker with pricey microphones, it’ll be a treat to hear the sorts of tonal nuances the IR-200’s virtual microphone locker can avail—particularly when mics are used in complementary pairs.

Test Gear: Schecter Ultra III, Audient iD44, KRK Rokit7 G4 monitors, Beyerdynamic DT 880 Pro headphones

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