iRig Review: Play Your Guitar Through Your iPad

Create a professional-quality guitar interface

While you can learn how to play guitar on your iPad, you may want to practice without having to lug your gear around. An iRig device from IK Multimedia is a great solution, allowing you to create a professional-quality guitar interface with the help of your iPad or iPhone.

IK Multimedia also offers hardware and software for connecting your guitar to an Android device, Mac, or Windows PC.

iRig, iRig 2, and iRig 2 HD2

The original iRig guitar interface was introduced in 2010 and allowed guitar and bass players to plug their guitars into an iOS device and, with the help of an app like IK's AmpliTude or GarageBand, practice and record as if they were playing in a studio.

The original iRig let you plug your guitar into your iPad, included a pre-amp for improved tone, and came with the free AmpliTube software, which added amp simulation, a Noise Filter, and a Delay effect. Additional effects were available for purchase.

The iRig 2 added to the original iRig's functionality, adding professional-level features such as adjustable input gain, cross-platform compatibility, and a 1/4-inch amplifier output.

The iRig HD 2 is the latest product. It's a pocket-sized device that connects via Lightning or USB to a Mac, iOS device, or PC. The iRig HD 2 unlocks advanced features in the accompanying AmpliTube app and includes a dedicated amplifier, headphone outputs, and an FX/Thru switch. There's also 24-bit, 96 kHz input and output that improves sound quality.

While the original iRig isn't for sale any longer, you can purchase an iRig 2 for $34.99 or get an iRig 2 HD2 for $99.

iRig and AmpliTube Create a Great Effects Processor

Whichever iRig device you purchase will let you plug your guitar into your iPad and use it as an amp simulator. Depending on your iRig device's features, you can output the sound to your headphones, external speakers, a PA system, or your guitar amp.

AmpliTube is IK Multimedia's excellent app that accompanies your iRig purchase; download the free AmpliTube CS app from the App Store. There's also a more robust $24.99 AmpliTude guitar amps and effects app for those who want the full guitar amp experience.

The free version of AmpliTube provides different effects, such as delay, noise reduction, distortion, and stompbox. You can purchase more effects within the app, including chorus, wah, and phaser. These effects range in price from $2.99 to $4.99, which is a savings compared to buying the actual pedals, and the end result turns your iPad into a virtual effects pedalboard.

You'll also get three amplifiers, three speaker cabinets, a free Loop Drummer Rock "groove pack," and more.

AmpliTude also includes a guitar tuner, a metronome, and a recorder, with an option for buying an 8-track recorder. Having problems learning a particular riff? You can slow down the song and take your time with it.

The combination of an iRig device and the AmpliTude app provides great sound quality and competes with most multi-effects packages at a price that's tough to beat.

Final Thoughts

AmpliTube produces amazing sound, especially when you consider that you're paying almost nothing for an effects pedal that might cost you $100 or more at the music store.

But the interface, according to some users, is lacking. The numerous knobs you'll encounter on your simulated amp and effects packages won't let you properly twist them, and while you can easily add an effect to a slot, you can't drag an effect from one slot to the next. So if you want to add noise reduction to the top of the order, you'll have to set up everything again.

But those annoyances are relatively minor considering everything you get. The biggest issue is sound quality, and on that note, the combination of an iRig device and the AmpliTube app delivers.

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