AmpliTube iRig Review – Hands On Problems & All

You might have already seen my initial review about the Amplitube iRig. If not you may want to check it out since it focuses on specs, features, and has a demo video. So I've had some time to play with the iRig testing is with an electric guitar and numerous iPhone apps for effects and multi-track recording. Here's my hands on impressions.

Oh, I should mention I haven't spend hours with this yet, so consider this my preliminary review. Once I spend more time I'll come back here and add any additional details or changes of opinion. Thanks!

 

amplitube irig1 300x300 AmpliTube iRig Review   Hands On Problems & All

iRig Physical Quality Review – Not great.

It's not impressive. When I opened it I was actually expecting based on photos of the product a much more sturdy case, something that you could step on. This is just a wimpy plastic shell held together by one small black screw.

I popped it open and the electronics are solid and the ports are well connected to the circuit board. The board has a handful of tiny components on it looking mostly like resistors. I assume this is for impedance matching at least and maybe some amount of level management. You can see the photo below. Sorry not the greatest quality photo.

From a physical quality standpoint it's not great. I've bought more sophisticated electronics for a quarter of the price from Walmart before. How they can charge $40 for this is beyond me. I guess you're paying for what it can do and not what it is.

irigopened 300x211 AmpliTube iRig Review   Hands On Problems & All

You can tell I took this photo with an iPhone 3GS. icon smile AmpliTube iRig Review   Hands On Problems & All

iRig Sound Quality Review – Darn Good.

The iRig does what it says. I tested it in a number of guitar effects apps and it was quiet and loud. In one app I was continuously getting a feedback sound with one effect but that may have simply been the effect itself–I need to look into that more. From a sound quality standpoint the iRig seemed solid.

iRig Compatibility Review – Darn Good.

An important thing I noted is that the iPhone 3GS seems to always detect when I had the unit plugged in–that's a good sign. With some cable adapters the iPhone will sometime miss that an adapter is plugged in and won't switch on the mic circuit. Keep in mind I only tested this on an iPhone and each iDevice and even the different builds of each react differently to devices attached to the mic/headphone jack, so you're millage may vary. However typically even when this is a problem it's minor. You unplug and replug the device to fix it.

iRig Usability Review – Where the iRig really "falls short"…

So, the cable is so darn short that it feels like attaching a guitar cable directly to the iPhone/iPod, I think this would drag down an iPad almost as easily.

The problem with this is if you set it on a table then the cable is so heavy it pulls the phone right off the table. You'll need to really anchor your phone down or tie the cable around the leg of the table or tape it down so the iPhone can sit without being moved or dropped.

If you have a wireless system then no worries. Just set it next to the wireless transmitter.

Honestly though, this is something IK should have realized when they created and tested this product. To me this is the single biggest disadvantage to this particular device, and there are other iDevice guitar adapters which handle this issue much better.

My Final Verdict

I wish it was built with more durability, but the electronics are nice, the price is high for what it is, but it does seem to deliver reliability and works well. A simple device to accomplish a simple task. I think I wouldn't recommend this adapter in the end mainly because the very short cable. If anyone comes up with a clever solution to this, please let me know.

Other iPhone/iPad Adapter Options?

Yeah, there are quite a few other options you can checkout for connecting your iPhone or iPad to your guitar, including cables and adapters. I've included an exhaustive list and my own insights and how to's into these options just click the link in the previous sentence to read about them.

Over to you…

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pixel AmpliTube iRig Review   Hands On Problems & All
 AmpliTube iRig Review   Hands On Problems & All

About Michael Jae

Michael is a guitarist of over 18 years and has taught lessons, played in front of live audiences, and wrote and recorded his own acoustic fingerstyle albums. He’s especially fond of playing classic rock, heavy metal, classical guitar, and fingerstyle acoustic guitar in the style of Leo Kottke and John Fahey.

Comments

comments

Comments

  1. It isn’t often that a review site speaks disparagingly about the product, actually makes you sit up and take notice. This could be a cool tool, but if it is so wimpy, most likely it would be broken in short order by a musician.

    • Hey Randy, I speak it like it is. It doesn’t totally suck, the problem is it has some problems, and I think there’s better choices on the market. So in that light I’m not recommending it strongly. Nice thing about it is you can pick it up at your local Target if you’ve got one. ;)

  2. Using an impedance matcher with your cable has a number of benefits. It presents the guitar with a higher impedance load than the iPhone does, which improves the sound and makes the tone and volume pots behave better (for example, you might notice that if you don’t use an impedance matcher, adjusting the tone pot has little effect).

  3. Ricky Ray says:

    Nice toy but mine completely stopped working after downloading the Fender complete pack. Interestingly, the free version still works but I dropped a lot of bux for the pay version and several downloads. And it's not heavy enough to use as a paperweight now.

  4. Shane Hodgetts says:

    Hi Michael,
    I purchased the iRig and tried to connect it from my accoustic to my iPod, to a DI, through a mixer / amp and found that I could barely hear any of the effects in the iRig software at all. Any thoughts? I really was hoping to use this as a pedal (I am a newbie) during playing (church).
     
    Thanks! Great advice and insights!

  5. I am glad I read your review before I went and spent the money on one. I am new to playing the guitar and thought this might improve the way I sound let alone the way it sounds. It doesn’t sound like it is the greatest investment though if you can’t even download anything on it and have it keep working. Do you have another brand that you have tested that might be better for the bucks?

  6. Jeffry Don says:

    I have been playiny guitar for 24 years now and have never been a real fan of any digital sounds. Even line 6 just didn’t sound right to me.
    Well back in october I was in a studio session and saw someone pop out the iRig and start playing through his iphone. I talked to him about it and was very impressed. It sounded great. Was very light. I had to get one.
    My entire rig and les paul was stolen at a gig so I had a hope that I would be able to use yhis for live settings. WRONG.
    Problem 1 is the sound crackles and pops and is not consistant. You can be playing fine for a few measures and hen out of nowhere it will pop.
    Also the feedback is terrible. With real equipment if you are using high gain you may get some feedback but can stop it by pulling back on your guitars volume. On this since its not real it stays there. Even in the settings you can turn feedback off which helps but not completely.
    Another problem is that on a full charge I get about 45 mins jam time before it stops playing completely to tell me I’m at 20% battery life. Once I click ok I get another 10-15 min play before its dead.
    Take these problems combined with those alread mentioned and ya get the picture.
    I did dl ampkit free and I’m impressed more with that than amplitube. No noise peoblems at all it just freezes up the ipod.
    All in all its good for working on solos or running scales for practice. Not worth using even for full band practice.

    • Michael Jae says:

      Thanks Jeffry. You’re review is valuable. I too haven’t been completely happy with the iRig. “Problem 1 is the sound crackles and pops and is not consistant.” I’ve seen this too, though not in every app I use. Consistancy has been a problem. It’s been hard to tell if it’s the iRig or the app. I’m planning of reviewing and tyring the new AmpKit HD adaptor soon, it hasn’t been released yet, but I’ve been impressed with Peavy’s products.

      Also, keep in mind the iRig plugs into the headphone jack on your device, and each device can have electronic variations in how well they receive the signal from the adaptor. If the adaptor isn’t designed with circuits to compensate then you may expeience difficulty other’s arent. The current AmpKit has those circuits. I haven’t been able to confirm that the iRig does.

      Adaptors that plug into the iDevices data port bypass this problem, though they are generally more expensive. The new HD AmpKit will be that type. For my overview of all the adaptors on the market now please see: http://www.easylearn2playguitar.com/recording/connecting-your-guitar-to-your-iphone-ipod-or-ipad/

      • I tried Iphone-Amplitube. Effects and sound are good, but the noise problems are terrible. Ampkit is better in my opinion so the noise stops when you are not playing, but it come back when you touch a string.
        I was so excited with this app but now I feel I will have to buy a new real thing.

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