IK Multimedia iRig HD digital guitar interface review

Sections: iDevice Accessories, iPad, iPad mini, iPhone, iPhone/iPod touch/iPad, iPod touch, Macintosh/Apple Hardware, Peripherals, Reviews

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If you’re a musician, especially one who plays guitar or bass, you owe it to yourself to get an audio adapter to plug your guitar into your iOS device. The apps available for iOS devices rival the many pieces of single-use hardware you could get for your guitar; all that’s standing in the way is the need for an audio adapter. The good news is you won’t have to look very hard to find the right one—it’s called the iRig HD. Let me tell you why it’s the best guitar audio interface available.

iRig HD

The iRig HD is the first digital guitar interface made by IK Multimedia for iOS devices. They’ve focused on analog audio adapters for a number of years with much success; the original iRig was and still is a great adapter. Being analog, it used the headphone port to make your iOS device the best multi-effects processor for the money.

But while an analog adapter is good, a digital adapter is much better. Why’s that? Simply put, audio quality. Analog interfaces can, and often do, introduce unwanted noise to your audio signal. Additionally, in the case for iOS devices, analog adapters are dependent on the quality of the headphone jack to do the actual analog to digital conversion. The iRig HD does all of the audio conversion on its and it does it well.

It has a low noise, high definition preamp with gain control, does 24 bit A/D conversion and can output digital audio via USB, 30-pin, or Lightning connectors. That’s right, the iRig HD supports the newest generation of Apple devices without the need for an adapter. Not only does it work with your iOS devices, but it also works with your Mac via USB. That makes it an all around great choice. It’s basically the only adapter you need.

iRigHD_front34The iRig HD itself is a small black plastic tube with a 1/4″ Hi-Z input jack on the bottom and a proprietary connector on the top. To the side, there is a small gain control. All you have to do is plug your guitar into the bottom of the device and then choose one of the 3 included adapter cables to connect the iRig HD to your iOS device or Mac. It’s really that simple, and it can be that simple because the iRig HD works so well.

Usually with these kinds of adapters, which are normally analog devices, there’s a certain amount of noise to be expected. When you move other devices around, you might get a pop, click, or some static since the connector might move a little. I’m glad to report that the iRig HD never introduces unwanted noise to my guitar signal—just clean, high-quality signal. So, instead of worrying about whether you might get some unwanted static while recording, all you have to do is worry about how well you play your instrument. Isn’t that the way it should be?

Plus, the iRig HD doesn’t even need batteries. It works off of the power provided through one of its digital adapter cables.

iRig HD also unlocks exclusive amp and effects models in both AmpliTube for iPhone, iPad and Mac. You can download AmpliTube Free for iOS, and upon plugging in the iRig HD, you get the Metal W and Metal 150 amps, along with the Wharmonator and X-Flanger effects. On Mac, you get AmpliTube Metal for free. It has 48 gear models, including amps, cabinets, and effects. It’s like they know which amp models you’re going to use before you even start playing.

It’s hard to imagine how the iRig HD could be any better. I have a pretty healthy imagination, and I can only think of one thing; it would have been nice for the iRig HD to also have a digital output. That way, you could use the iRig HD as a multi-effects processor in your audio chain between your guitar and amp. You can certainly get adapters to use your headphone port on your iOS device as such, but a built in output would have been better.

Even still, the iRig HD is the best guitar input adapter I’ve had the pleasure of testing. It turns your iOS device into your guitar’s other best friend.

Appletell Rating:
iRig HD review

Buy the iRig HD

Provides: digital audio input for instruments
Developer: IK Multimedia
Minimum Requirements: iOS device (Lightning or 30-pin connectors)
Price: $99.99
Availability: Now


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