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AmpliTube iRig review:

AmpliTube iRig

Putting value aside, keep your expectations in check when it comes to the AmpliTube's sound quality. When we A/B tested it against the $130 JamVox system (arguably an unfair comparison, but in the ballpark) it was easy to discern where the iRig sonically fell short in clarity, dynamic range, and emulation quality. Like any guitar product, sound quality is in the ear of the beholder, but we think it's fair to warn that AmpliTube iRig can't hold up to software emulation solutions in the $100-and-up range, such as Native Instruments' Guitar Rig, POD Farm, Waves GTR, or even the AmpliTube PC software. That said, until someone finds a way to put Guitar Rig in your pocket, iRig has the priceless advantage of portability, with no batteries required.

There are some nitpicky improvements we'd like to see, aside from preset labels. We understand that IK Multimedia may be wary of deafening its customers, but we're disappointed with iRig's restrained volume. Guitarists and bass players with active pickups may have better luck with the app's limited headroom, but we had to put our iPod at full crank to muster a decent signal from both our Fender Stratocaster and Hallmark 60 Custom.

But if we could request only one feature for the iRig, it would be a recorder. It's fine to plug in your guitar purely for the purpose of rocking out and honing your chops, but should inspiration strike, it's nice to have a way to record song ideas. The proposed recorder wouldn't need to multitrack, or even record in stereo--just offer a way to save song ideas. If iRig can fold in recording, it can evolve from a weekend warrior guitar amp into a broadly useful tool for guitarists to both create and rehearse songs on the go.

To hear a brief demo of the AmpliTube iRig in action, here's a recording we made using both clean and distortion settings, recorded to a Macbook. Disclaimer: author is not a rock star.

AmpliTube iRig test:

For the sake of comparison, here's a similar recording made using the $130 Vox JamVox system.

JamVox test:

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