IK Multimedia’s latest iRig controller now lets you hook up your guitar to your Android device as well as your amp, but does it hit the right note?
For a while now I’ve been eyeing up IK Multimedia’s range of smartphone and tablet compatible hardware that offer affordable audio interfaces, sound controllers, microphones, and more to musicians on the go, or without the budget to pay for thousands of dollars worth of kit for it to only be used once in a blue moon. The only problem is, the majority of their hardware is design to be compatible with apps currently only available on iOS. So when the Android-friendly iRig 2 was announced, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it.
Now, the iRig 2 is much more special than its predecessor. The reason for this is because it no longer has a proprietary input method built for either iPhones and iPads, or Samsung Galaxy devices. The iRig 2 is a one size fits all musical interface allowing anyone with any device the ability to play music on the go. Even better than that, iRig 2 also offers the ability to not only play into your iOS or Android-powered device, you can also have the output lead straight into your amp of choice, meaning that if you have the cash for it, you can have an entirely digital pedal board and your disposal as it’s compatible with IK Multimedia’s own app, Amplitube.
Amplitube comes in both free and paid-for versions, allowing basic functionality in the former, and for £3.99 for the latter full access to all of the pre-set amps and pedals. With this in tow, you’ll be able to go from screaming metal, to more melodic acoustic with the tap of a few virtual pedals. What’s more, if you don’t want everyone hearing your racket, you can plug headphones into the iRig 2 and have a full blown metal fest in your own ears.
The iRig 2 itself isn’t an overly complicated mash of dials and switches, in fact it’s the most simplest piece of kit that I own. On the device we’ve got two inputs for your standard guitar leads (1/4inch jacks) and one 3.5mm input for headphones. We’ve also got one 3.5mm cable leading out of the device which can be plugged into your smartphone or tablet of choice. In terms of controls, all that’s on offer is a dial and a switch. The dial allows you to control how much gain is coming out of the return feed of the device, the switch on the other hand is a little more useful allowing you to bypass the smartphone completely to let your guitar or bass playing run straight through the device into your headphones or amp. Perfect for when you’ve got an external tuner, or a set of your own pedals to play through.
For the bedroom guitarist, the iRig 2 is a perfect piece of kit that allows for you to not only experiment with effects and amp settings, but also use sound recorder apps to capture your ideas quickly and simply. The iRig 2 can also be used for live performance too as it has the ability to be tied to a mic-stand with an included velcro strap. The only issue is, you’ll probably also need a music stand for your smartphone or tablet to sit whilst your playing through your device, which on a crowded stage can take up prime real-estate, though as a soloist I can imagine you’d have no trouble.
The only real issue I came across on the device is the availability of IK Multimedia’s own Amplitube, an app which has been marketed specifically with the iRig 2. Unfortunately it’s only available on iOS and Samsung apps. There’s currently no Amplitube for any other device. Thankfully there are many alternatives on the App Store for you to play with, but I’m guessing that’s not something IK want, and for someone primarily on Android, I was a little disappointed.
Overall though the iRig 2 is a fantastic piece of kit if you’re looking to play through different amp configurations and effects pedal combination. It’s also a great interface for recording music parts in apps such as Garage Band and even simple sound recorders. The sound quality is pretty exceptional and could quite easily be used to make a pretty decent demo for your solo efforts, or for a band recording, though getting a decent recording of the drummer might be a little difficult.
Despite the lack of Amplitube, it’s a great bit of kit regardless whether you’re on Android or iOS and it’s nice to see IK Multimedia finally including Android into the mix. Now, if only I could convince them to create an iRig PADS for Android.