Price: $4.99 for Amplitube, $99.99 for iRig HD
Version Reviewed: 3.0.2
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IK Multimedia just keeps getting better, improving its products with each iteration. When I reviewed the iRig and Amplitube Fender a couple of years back, I found them both to be outstanding pieces of consumer-level tech to connect a guitar to an iOS device.
The iRig HD, then, continues that tradition as a solid, well-built and improved hardware solution for connecting a guitar to any iOS device, or even a Mac. It comes with three cables to connect with - Lightning, 30-Pin, and USB - covering all the bases. It's also a 24-bit analog to digital conversion unit that's around the size of a small cigar, easily fitting into your pocket or gig bag.
What's different about the iRig HD is the way it eschews a headphone jack, letting your iOS device run the sound. This is a great, streamlined way of connecting stuff that just makes sense. I plugged my guitar into the large 1/4-inch jack on one side of the iRig HD, then connected the Lightning cable to the iRig HD on one end and the iPad mini on the other end. Just like that, I was set.
The sound quality is great; even better than the original iRig, which now retails for $40. There's a little bit of latency when playing notes through to the Amplitube Studio app, but even that is adjustable in the settings.
Amplitube Studio, then, is another great step forward. Not only is it Audiobus capable, allowing you to use all of the presets and pedal/amp combinations you choose, it also has a new multi-tracking system available as an in-app purchase for $26.99. It's no Garageband, but for those looking to do all their recording and editing in a guitar-centric app, it seems a solid multi-tracking digital audio workstation for a great price.
The base app provides a great line up of pedal effects and amplifier models, with several outstanding effects pre-sets. When purchasing the iRig HD and connecting it to an iPad with Amplitube Studio on it, musicians will get a few more of each as well.
The interface is easy to use; with pedals, amps, and mics looking just like their real-world counterparts. One actual valid use of skeuomorphic design. Players can use the several preset effects chains, modify them, or create their own from scratch. Every amplifier model has full access to its front panels, just like a real amplifier, giving knob-twiddling guitar geeks truly infinite control of their sound.
The only niggling issue I have with the iRig HD is the lack of any professional output solution. I like that IK Multimedia has moved the sound processing to the iPad, but to use this kind of set up on stage requires another purchase. Even with a pedalboard, there's still the question of sound output. Thankfully, with the 24-bit sound here, it's a fairly easy fix to get the iPad out to a PA system with a simple 1/8-inch to 1/4-inch adapter.
Bottom line: the iRig HD is a great higher-end analog to digital converter with great sound throughput, allowing anyone to connect a guitar or other line-level musical instrument to their iOS or Mac OS X device. Amplitube Studio continues to evolve the Amplitube brand forward, providing a host of pedal- and amp-based effects for the beginner as well as more experienced guitar players.