Review: Neunaber Iconoclast Speaker Emulator
When Neunaber audio effects named their new speaker emulator “Iconoclast,” they knew that they had produced a truly game-changing product that expanded notions of exactly what a speaker emulator could be.
Unlike most previous speaker emulator hardware boxes, Iconoclast offers an incredibly wide range of tonal control instead of the usual one or two emulated speaker cabinet tone settings and, if you’re lucky, a handful of switches for making subtle tweaks. But there’s much more to Iconoclast than just its unique EQ section, including the ability to link the box to Iconoclast software to adjust numerous characteristics such as the virtual loudspeaker impedance curve, high-frequency filter type, power compression, compression response time, noise gate settings, two bands of parametric/shelving EQ and more.
Iconoclast is housed in a die-cast box about the same size as a Phase 90. Controls include low, mid and high EQ, gate and headphone output level, and it features a pair of unbalanced ¼-inch input jacks, a pair of balanced/unbalanced ¼-inch output jacks, 1/8-inch headphone output, micro USB jack and 9-volt power input.
As you might have guessed from the features, Iconoclast can “stereo-ize” a mono input or accommodate stereo input sources, and it functions as a headphone amp/monitor in addition to providing speaker emulation when connected to a mixer, powered speakers or digital audio recording interface. Iconoclast software is available free of charge and is compatible with MacOS or Windows. The software is highly recommended as it significantly expands Iconoclast’s capabilities.
The Neunaber Iconoclast impressively delivers the natural sound and organic feel of playing through a speaker cabinet. In addition to sculpting bass frequencies, the low EQ knob also dials in emulations of various cabinet sizes, from a 1×12 to a 4×12 cabinet. The mid EQ provides a range of midrange tones from crisp and flat (think JBL) to voice-like and aggressive (more Celestion), and the high EQ can make the tone warm, rich, sparkling or sizzling.
The box works exceptionally well with preamps or amp-like distortion pedals (like the Friedman BE-OD) as well as when connected to an amp’s line output or effects send. (Note that a speaker or load box still needs to be used with an amp to avoid damage.) Iconoclast eliminates the numerous variables that make miking a speaker cabinet an often frustrating process, providing pristine and easily reproducible tones whether performing on stage or in the recording studio.
DIRECT PRICE: $249
MANUFACTURER: Neunaber Audio Effects, neunaber.net
● In addition to shaping bass frequencies, the low EQ control also can dial in the character of various cabinets from 1×12 to 4×12.
● Iconoclast software allows users to connect the box via USB to a MacOS or Windows computer and program a wide variety of custom settings.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Whether you want to ditch your amp for good or just want to feed a signal to a mixing board that sounds as good (or even better) than your rig, the Neunaber Iconoclast allows you to dial in the true speaker tones of your dreams.