iRig HD: Nature of the fret

Technology can be a burden. The frustration I feel when one of my gadgets lets me down is almost palpable. Even the slight lag that’s started when I open the Mail app on my iPad is starting to get to me. But when it’s all working it can be truly liberating, especially for creative processes. I can write, shoot and edit a short film all from my phone. And do a whole bunch of accounting if I really want to as well. As someone who remembers having to trek all over town to recording studios, and the masses of hardware needed to even attempt to emulate that at home the ability to record high quality audio on the go is really valued.

iRig

IK Multimedia’s all new iRig HD enables me to do just that. iRig HD is a high-quality digital guitar/bass/instrument interface that means you can plug your analogue instrument into an iPhone and make digital magic if you are that way inclined. And I am.

iRig HD features crystal clear digital signal thanks to its superior 24bit converter, an onboard gain control for perfect level setting, a low power consumption circuit for longer device battery life, plus an ultra-slim design and interchangeable adapter cables for maximum portability and universal compatibility.

The iRig HD is a simple “plug in and play” interface but is also quite clever in its flexibility.

The 1/4″ instrument input jack is pretty standard and there are included cables that plug directly into the annoying new digital Lightning or old-fashioned 30-pin connectors so you can work with pretty much all generations of iOS device. You can even take the fun home with you as there is an included USB cable, that connects the iRig HD to any regular Mac. It’s also small enough to pop into your back pocket, guitar bag etc and forget about it until you need it.

IK multimedia have a range of apps that you can use iRig HD with but you’re not locked into their ecosystem and you can compose tracks in all the usual suspects – including GarageBand.

iRig HD will be shipping in the Spring of 2013 and will be available in musical instrument and electronic retailers worldwide. Price is to be announced.

IK Multimedia iRig STOMP: Pedal powered

IK Multimedia’s iRig STOMP is the first stompbox-style guitar and bass interface for iPhone/iPad. If you are unfamilar with stompboxes they are small pedals used by guitarists and bassists to control their effects without tying up their hands – useful for songs that have that Pixies style quiet-quiet-LOUD dynamic. The iRig STOMP fits in snugly with your exisiting set up allowing analogue and digital music to live side by side.

iRig-Stomp

As you’d expect iRig STOMP is about the size of a standard compact pedal. The iRig STOMP’s device jack routes a signal to your iOS device and returns the signal to the main output or headphone jacks. There’s a giant gain knob to set your input signal to its optimum level plus a bypass switch to completely bypass the signal processing like a regular stompbox pedal.

The Flexible Signal Routing of the iRig STOMP lets you to use it (i) with a guitar amp as your effects signal chain and tone shaping front end; (ii) inline with your other stompboxes; or (iii) with headphones to preserve the sanity of those around you.

It’s interesting to see how manufacturers such as IK multimedia have built a whole platform on top of iOS – the iRig family of instruments now includes microphones, DJ mixers, guitar interfaces and a range of software to accompany it including AmpliTube, AmpliTube Fender or AmpliTube Slash.

iRig STOMP costs €44.99 (ex VAT) and is available now from www.irigstomp.com

iRig Mic review

Every other weeks comes a new app or accessory that helps the iPad scream “I’m a real boy.” From Pages at launch, to Garageband a year on there are a fair few apps that mail the tablet a serious contender for producing work on. The iPads (and tablets in general) are only useful for consuming content idea, which was much touted at launch could probably be put to bed (it won’t ever be put to bed). Adding to the vocal chorus of things screaming take iPads (and iPhones) seriously is IK multimedia’s iRig Mic.

iRig

Musicians and podcasters already have Garageband to sink their teeth into and the iRig gives them a (semi) professional level input solution. The iRig is fairly sturdy to the touch (rugged metal housing) and apart from the rubber connector, feels like a “real” mic and not a toy. The unidirectional condenser-electret capsule comes with a windscreen and plugs into the headphone socket of your iDevice. The plug also features a dual mini jack for real time monitoring – either to another set of headphones or to a speaker of some sort.

There are three input levels you can select – high, which records everyone in the room, mid for conventional use and low for “intense” vocal performances such as more extreme singing. The audio quality is excellent and recorded a few podcast interviews that sounded excellent.

Less excellent however is the VocaLive app. The buggy nature of the app means it crashes on almost every other load, which is immensely frustrating. It’s also not optimised for iPads – running in the quite frankly ridiculous emulator mode. Even the icon isn’t optimised for Retina displays. The software team needs to look into these as they detract from an otherwise promising app – the built in effects are really impressive for an £11.99 app (think how much hardware effects used to cost) and there is a lovely looking 4 track record available as an in-app purchase. Of course you can use the iRig with a number of applications – it plays nicely with Garageband and is excellent when paired with Everyday Looper.

A flawed yet promising start. But as must have accessory for anyone into recording audio on the iPad.