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The iRig graduates from bedroom equipment to something much much more
We recently got our hands on the brand new iRig 2 from IK Multimedia – the second version of the iOS effect processing unit for guitar and bass.
The next generation is a pretty exciting one. While previously the unit would allow players to plug their guitars directly into an iPhone or iPad and take advantage of a variety of effects (provided by IK’s app Amplitube – though it supports other apps like this) it was always most suitable for players that wanted to try out a few effects at home, i.e. those that want to get all the fun of playing through an amp, combined with the quiet and space-saving nature of just using your iPhone.
However, in its sequel, IK has taken some major steps into producing a unit that could well become an essential bit of kit even for performers with a big old 2×12 stacked in the corner.
So, what’s new? Well – the most important update is the inclusion of a second 1/4 jack output, enabling users to plug the iRig into their phone via the headphone jack, and then their guitar straight into the unit before running a second guitar lead back out of the unit and into an amp, or speaker system. This is hugely exciting for fans of the original iRig. It also means that effects that have been finely tuned and set up via the app can now be fed through to an amp to really feel and hear the full impact of the sounds. Even in a performance scenario.
The other additions include a physical switch for moving between dual-mode operation settings. These are an ‘FX’ setting, which allows players to send their guitar signal through iOS for processing, and back out through the speaker, and a second mode ‘THRU’ for passing an analogue signal directly into the amp via iOS so that the iPhone or iPad can act as a tuner, or even a recorder – of which Amplitube is capable of doing too.
Finally, the iRig 2 now has an input gain control to really give users full control over volume, tone, and situation. And it all works perfectly.
We’ve used the unit in a variety of situations, from recording, simple home play, and with a band in a practice scenario. The level you get from the sounds on Amplitube translates incredibly well, and although the digital processing is still noticeable, how much of this is mental is up for debate – others we played with didn’t seem to notice until it was pointed out.
The Amplitube app is pretty solid too, giving various mics, guitars, and cabinets to play with. You can scroll through different sounds and they change instantly, without any latency. iRig 2 is also compatible with other apps of this kind – including ToneStack, which we also tried. Though that particularly app didn’t perform quite as well as IK’s app.
Overall this is a huge leap forward for iRig. It really opens up its usefulness and range of possibilities, and there’s little to knock – including it’s pricetag, which is currently set at a fairly reasonable $39.99/£29.99.
So where next for the iRig? Well, if it’s steadily breaking into live performance, some further hardware to switch between sounds might prove to be its perfect companion – will see see an iRig stompbox?