Recently, players have been spoiled for choice when it comes to pedal amps. However, boutique builder Friedman has unveiled an enticing new option that combines 12AX7 tube tones with IR and power amp simulation – and does it all at a highly tempting price point.
Friedman Amps was founded by modder and amp guru Dave Friedman. The firm that bears his name is predominantly known for its Marshall-style tube builds, beloved by the likes of Jerry Cantrell and Steve Stevens.
Few players question Friedman’s tonal chops, but boutique builds come at a price, and the likes of Cantrell or Stevens’ signature amp heads will cost you in the region of $4,000.
The firm has clearly had one eye on its price points and, back in 2021, it unveiled the budget-friendly, solid-state BE-Mini head. However, if you wanted a tube driven Friedman sound, you’d be looking at spending at least $1,499 (for the single-channel Little Sister) – until now.
The Friedman IR-X changes all that: packing a two-channel tube-driven preamp into a pedal format and combining it with digital IR and power amp simulation for an asking price of $499.
The control layout will look immediately familiar to any amp user, with volume, gain, boost and three-band EQ dials on each channel.
Around the back is the I/O, where you’ll find a balanced out, an effects loop, headphone out, plus MIDI and USB connectivity.
“I’m an amp guy and for me to be excited about a product like this,” says Friedman, “there has to be this instant gratification of plugging it in and getting a tone immediately, just like you do with a standard tube amp.”
What’s particularly interesting about the IR-X is the way it is melding that tube-driven front end with the digital back end. While the control setup and tone seem pretty traditional, you’re also getting an IR loader and 12 free bundled cab sims of Friedman’s own cabs.
“It's a true hybrid solution,” says Friedman. “We're mating everything we know about tube amps into this thing and we have a digital backend that does your power amp simulation. It does a Thump and a Presence and it reacts just like our B-100 amplifier.”
Said digital tweaking of the Thump and Presence is handled via the IR-X Editor software (and you can load your own IRs there, too).
There’s also a heap of extra physical controls you can use to change your tones on the pedal itself – from channel one’s three-position Bright switch and channel two’s two-position Tight switch, to a three slot IR/cab selector on each channel, plus side-mounted mini gain dials for the boost circuits.
Handily, you can also bypass the IR by holding down the channel one footswitch.
We don’t love the name. IR-X sounds like the kind of moniker Elon Musk would inflict on one of his children, and it also pulls focus to the IR side, which for our money is super-handy, but not as compelling as getting those Friedman tube tones in your rig.
There’s also been no shortage of rival pedal amp options in recent years, but the IR-X is nonetheless shaping up to be a great option. It brings a bit of boutique pizazz to the table alongside a well thought-out feature set and at a really compelling price point, particularly given it has a tube-based preamp.
The IR-X is available now for $499. For more information, head to Friedman Amplification.