You might remember that I took a long hard look at IK Multimedia’s iRig a wee while ago and addressed how to deal with some of it’s shortcomings when used with Garageband. While a fantastic tool for musicians on the go, the iRig does fall short in a couple of areas sound wise, namely an over abundance of irritating background noise and some problems when used with hi gain amp models/effects.
Nonetheless, I was happy to declare my undying love for the thing, citing its versatility and ease of use as major plusses.
So to say I was as excited as a kid at Christmas when IK Multimedia’s latest interface – the iRig HD – arrived on my doorstep would be an understatement.
Now, I know there are (and have been for a while) several other options for getting better sounding audio on iOS.
After publishing iRig SOS, everyone and their mother pointed out that the Apogee Jam sounds miles better than the iRig when hooking up your axe of choice to your iDevice, but it seems IK Multimedia set out to not only fix the audio niggles that plague the original iRig, but create something that far exceeds the quality of anything else in it’s class…
I’ve had my grubby little paws on it for a while now and I have to say, they’ve definitely succeeded.
Let’s dive in and see what’s what with the iRig HD.
First off, how about we warm up with IK Multimedia’s official announcement video?
Here comes the science bit
In case you’re feeling particularly tech-y, here’s the iRig HD’s specs:
• Maximum Input Level: 330 mVpp to 7 Vpp
• Gain Control Range: 26 dB
• Input Noise: -97 dB RMS
• Distortion (THD): 0.005 percent
• Frequency Response: 20 Hz – 20 kHz +/- 0.2 dB
• Conversion: 24-bit A/D
• Sampling Rate: 44.1 and 48 kHz
• Size: 30 x 99 mm x 21 mm (1.18 x 3.9 x 0.85 in)
• Weight: 35 g (1.23 oz)
All of which roughly translated means the iRig HD has the same sound quality as a ‘proper’ guitar/bass pre amp at an extremely portable size and affordable price.
Now that’s out the way let’s get on with it..
3 Reasons To LOVE The iRig HD
It’s Ridiculously Versatile
If you own or have ever used IK Multimedia’s previous guitar interface (the original iRig) you’ll be familiar with the different ways you can use this piece of kit.
If not, let me break it down for you – The iRig HD lets you attach a Guitar, bass or synth to your iPhone, iPad, iPod or Mac using a 1/4″ jack. You can then use a metric ton of apps and software to simulate everything from guitar effect pedals, bass amps and synth modules (to name but a few) straight from your iDevice.
It also works extremely well as a Direct Input to your Mac. In fact, it sounds a lot better than some dedicated USB connections i’ve previously used. This is probably down to the built in Pre amp and Gain control. It’s easy to get a balanced signal strength, which in turn makes it easier to get things sounding great.
You can connect the iRig HD to your Device of choice by a number of methods.:
#1 30 Pin Connector – Allows you to connect the iRig HD to your iPhone (4, 4S) iPad (1st, 2nd and 3rd generation) and iPod Touch (4th and 5th generation)
#2 Lightning Connector – Use this to connect the iRig HD to your iPhone (5, 5S +) or iPad 4th generation.
#3 USB Connector – Finally, you can stick this end into your Mac.
It sounds better than the iRig
Yup, much better in fact.
Gone are the signal strength issues, background noise woes, narrowed eq’s and premature sustain degradation.
What we’re left with is strong, clear adjustable signal strength, a full dynamic range and not an audio burp to be heard.
Judge for yourself – In this video I pit the iRig and iRig HD against each other in a sound quality fight to the death!
Disclaimer: No guitar interfaces were harmed during the making of this video 😉
Uh… yeah – so that was fun… (See if you can name which movie the victory music is from – put it in the comments!)
It Comes With Free Stuff!
If you caught my iRig HD unboxing video on The Garageband Guide YouTube Channel, you’ll no doubt remember me wittering on about the free amp and effects that come with the iRig HD. It’s astonishing how much free content IK Multimedia are giving away to purchasers of their latest gizmo.
The first time you attach the iRig HD to your iDevice with the Amplitube app active, you’ll ‘unlock’ two exclusive metal amp models (the Metal 150 and the Metal W) as well as two Metal flavored effects (the Wharmonator and the X-Flanger) for you to use at your leisure. Both the amps and pedals are up to par with the other models in the Amplitube app and are perfect for anyone who wants to rock out with their clock out from time to time…
That’s not all – Mac users also get access to the Amplitube Custom Shop , IK Multimedia’s free amps and effects plug in which can be used as a standalone program or loaded into an effects slot in Garageband.
As if that wasn’t enough, you ALSO get access to the complete Amplitube Metal collection, which includes 48 gear models – for FREE! I can’t help but think that someone at IK Multimedia HQ has lost the plot… not that i’m complaining, mind.
Here’s a quick audio sample of some of sounds you can get from Amplitube’s Metal Collection, using a Mac, Garageband and the iRig HD’s USB connection.
Sound good? Get your hands on an iRig HD and support The Garageband Guide at no extra cost to you. Simply purchase using this link: iRig HD
So It’s Good Then?
The short answer? YES – VERY GOOD!
The iRig HD delivers on so many levels and replaces the original iRig as THE all in one solution for Garageband loving Guitarists, Bassists and Synth players. Not only that, it improves on it’s less refined sibling’s shortcomings, providing pro quality audio. Throw in a huge amount of free software coupled with an incredibly affordable price tag and it’s fair to say IK Multimedia have set the bar for portable instrument interfaces.
I can’t get enough of the thing…
What do you think? Tried the iRig HD yet? Love it? Hate it? Share your feelings on the iRig HD in the comments below, then join the conversation on Facebook!