Apogee Electronics GIO (Mac) Review

The Apogee GiO ($395) is a USB foot controller that includes a built-in hi-Z guitar input and a ¼-inch stereo headphone or line-level output, dedicated to controlling Apple GarageBand ''09, Logic Pro 9, and MainStage 2.
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The Apogee Electronics GiO USB foot controller offers hands-free control of the guitar effects and transport of GarageBand ''09, Logic Pro 9, and MainStage 2.

The Apogee GiO ($395) is a USB foot controller that includes a built-in hi-Z guitar input and a ¼-inch stereo headphone or line-level output, dedicated to controlling Apple GarageBand ''09, Logic Pro 9, and MainStage 2. It does not have a built-in expression pedal, but it includes a ¼-inch input for one. The unit''s main features are the five effects stomp buttons, five transport buttons on a slightly raised upper tier, and preset-selection buttons in the corners.

The GiO ships with a Mac OS X Core Audio driver that lets you adjust both the guitar input and stereo output levels from the Sound Preference pane or the Audio MIDI Setup application. To accommodate the GiO, GarageBand, Logic, and MainStage feature built-in control panels that give you control over the recording level and input level, as well as an output mute control. Additionally, the Logic Pro and MainStage 2 control panels include an output-level slider.

This unit has heft and feels solidly built. The stomp and transport buttons have a stiff spring, offering satisfying feedback and resistance when you step on them. My GiO easily survived being pounded by heavy boots for hours a day. The spacing between the buttons is also excellent. The preset-selection buttons, however, were so close to the edge I sometimes missed the pedal, stepping off the corner of the GiO. Also, the rubberized preset buttons offer no physical feedback when they are pressed.

To get the most out of the GiO, you need to face your Mac display. The GiO doesn''t offer a display to indicate the patch name or number, so you have no feedback as to which preset is selected. The effect stomp displays take on the color of the stompbox you are using, but many stompboxes have the same color. This is not a problem when using the GiO as a hands-free controller when you''re in front of your Mac, but if you wanted to keep your laptop offstage, you''d miss having at least a numeric preset readout on the pedal itself.

That said, the built-in guitar interface sounded good with both single-coil and humbucking pickups. The GiO worked as advertised with GarageBand ''09 and Logic Pro 9.1, allowing me full transport control, instant stompbox activation and deactivation, and preset selection at my feet. The control was instantaneous, with no noticeable latency.

With MainStage in Perform mode, the transport buttons operate Playback or Loopback to turn MainStage into a foot-controllable looper or backing-track player. I was extremely happy with the way GiO worked with Playback and Loopback out of the box. GiO recognizes pedalboard stompboxes in Perform mode, but the button-display color defaults to red. You''ll need to manually change the button color (even for the included templates) in the editor for each button if you want the color on the GiO to match the stompbox color.

The GiO''s output-jack sound quality was very good. Note that you do not need to use the GiO as your I/O device to use it as a USB foot controller. Also, all three Apple applications let you select different Core Audio I/O devices, so you can use the guitar input of the GiO and your studio monitors for output (my preferred setup). Theoretically, any plug-in with MIDI Learn capability should be able to re-assign the GiO to control it as well, but I wasn''t able to get the GiO to work with either Peavey''s ReValver MK III or IK Multimedia''s AmpliTube 2.

All in all, Apogee Electronics'' GiO is a well-built, sturdy USB foot controller that allows users of GarageBand ''09, Logic Studio 9.1, and MainStage 2.1''s built-in Guitar suite to have stompbox and transport control at their feet. It doesn''t offer the kind of alphanumeric feedback I''d love for front-of-stage performance with a computer offstage, but for home use, the GiO is a winner.

Overall rating (1 through 5): 3
Apogee GIO Product Page