Unless you’ve been seriously out of touch in the last couple of months, like in space, or at the bottom of the ocean, you can’t have failed to notice the hoo-hah surrounding IK Multimedia’s iRig guitar adapter and Amplitube modelling software for the iOS (iPhone, iPad,iPod touch) devices.
So deep has iRig penetrated into the very fabric of society, that its been featured in Wired magazine, Cnet and many other more mainstream publications. Good job IK! So we know about the hype, what is the truth?
What is this iRig?
iRig is an apapter plug that takes a mono 1/4 jack input from a guitar or bass, provides a stereo mini-jack (headphone) out for monitoring, and plugs into the iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch via a 3-way minijack, giving you more elegant way in and out of your device. Once the audio is hooked up, you can launch your Amplitube software - either FREE, LE or full fat versions. This then gives you access to IK Multimedia’s guitar amp and effect modeling algorithms so you can jam like you were plugged into an amp, speakers and a selection of stomp effects.
There are five amp models, which appear to emulate the:
Fender Twin, Vox AC-30, Marshall JCM-800 and Mesa Boogie dual recitfier, plus an Ampeg bass head for the four string dudes.
Each amp has faithful front panel controls for gain and tonal variations. Cabs and mics can be switched between a couple of models - 1x12 or 2x12 (4x12 or 1x15 for the bass) and between dynamic or condenser mics.
There are also three stomp pedal slots into which you can load any of the following (full version)
Delay, Fuzz, Overdrive, Wah, Env Filter, Chorus, Flanger, Phazer, Octave and Noise Filt.
All are pretty dandy, with good sonic characteristics with possibly the exception of the Flanger which just doesn’t scream like a jet fighter.
If you stump up the £11.99 for the full version (we recommend this) you’ll be spared the in-app signup and buying routine, which to be fair is pretty simple, but somehow makes you feel like your privacy has been ever-so-slightly invaded.
All parameters for amps and pedals can be stored for recall in 36 user presets with a nicely simple press and hold routine.
Also included in the Tools section of the app are: Tuner, Audio file playback and looper and a metronome.
The temptation of course is to crank everything to 11 and just go for it - I mean, why wouldn’t you in the privacy of your own headphones? But in doing so reveals a problem - high gain settings cause an issue with crosstalk or bleed in the Apple device - a little crosstalk between input and output path is not an issue usually, unless of course you are adding massive amounts of gain into the system - the resultant squealing cannot be tamed by turning down the guitar, its happening inside the iPhone/iPad itself. The fix is to flip Feedback elimination on in the Amplitube software, which does the trick, but it also cuts the balls off the sound, so you’ll have to weigh up the gain vs feedback equation when you reach for that extra bit of gain juice.
Very impressed with this little system, the guitar sounds are extremely usable with a wide tonal pallette - you could use this to play solo or even with others in a rehearsal or jam scenario - you can plug the audio out into an amp and crank it if you desire, although you obviously wont be wanting a phone call in the middle of your set.
The tuner and song playback and looping features are also genuinely useful to a guitarist for learning and working out parts. As Murph says in the video - non iPhone owning guitarists have been given another justification to to own the ubiquitous iPhone.
All in all, this is a great little combination that is so much more than your average iPhone toy.
iRig Hardware: $39.99 /€29.99
Amplitube Free - er free
Ampitube LE $2.99/£1.79
Amplitube Full $19.99/£11.99