As an amateur guitarist, I'm always trying to emulate my favorite guitar players, and of course, their sound. But without their rack of effects, getting even close to their sound is tough. And once upon a time, effects were very expensive, but as home computers have become more commonplace, effects have found their way (at least partially) into software.
Within the last few years, the iPhone has become one of the hottest gadgets to own. Enter IK Multimedia who have decided to marry the iPhone to a guitar effects rig in the form of the AmpliTube iRig. I got a chance to review this gadget and its associated iPhone app.
I must say that I was surprised by fact that I was going get sound out of this little black tubular device barely larger than my guitar's audio jack, much less a barrage of effects. It was quite easy to hook up. Plug your guitar in with your standard ¼” jack into the iRig. The iRig then plugs into your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad. The user then has the choice of plugging in their headphones or patching into speakers with a 1/8” jack.
I downloaded the free version of the software from iTunes, which includes 3 stompboxes, 1 amp+cabinet and 2 microphones. A distortion pedal is included with the free software but needs to be unlocked by signing up with IK Multimedia.
The user can also purchase LE and Full version, which comes with many more effects such as the usual suspects: chorus, flanger, phazer etc ($2.99 each) and more cabinets and amplifiers ($4.99 each). The iRig allows for a ton of effect customization for those musicians that are effects crazy!
Sound and Performance
I normally play my guitar through my tube amplifier without any distortion and just some delay and echo. So the free download was good enough for me. Not being an ‘Eric Johnson tone God’ it was hard for me to substantiate a large difference between my real amplifier and cabinet and the iRig. Count me impressed! I’m confident that with more time and fiddling I could get the iRig to sound pretty close to what I get out of my tube amp.
The 12 presets allowed me to save different iterations of my settings. This meant I could ‘fiddle’ without losing any tonal gains. The other cool features that are worth mentioning are the built-in tuner and metronome. If plugged in there no need to run to your external tuner to do tune ups, just click on the tools button. One last honorable mention is the ability to download a song and use it as a backing track while you play – pretty cool!
If you play guitar and have an iPhone, iPod or iPad, at just about $40, this would be a great investment. And with just a couple of gizmos weighing under a pound, I can reproduce the sound of my big tube amp with added effects on my ride home through my phone. Amazing!
(Disclaimer: Gizmos for Geeks received a complimentary review copy of this product.)