IK Multimedia iRig
List Price: $39.99
AmpliTube 2 App
(available from the iTunes App Store in three versions):
AmpliTube: 11 stompboxes, five amps and cabinets, two microphones: $19.99
AmpliTube LE: five stompboxes, one amp and cabinet, two microphones: $2.99
AmpliTube FREE: three stompboxes, one amp and cabinet, two microphones: FREE
So, this is what it’s come to. The recording studio, that fabled thing of yore – Abbey Road, Sunset Sound, FAME – has been effectively downsized to fit into the palm of your hand.
It’s fitting that the coup de grâce comes, indirectly, at the hands of Apple, the company that brought the rest of the recording industry to its knees.
Ever since phones started getting “smart” (and smarter and smarter), and studios have gotten smaller and more bedroom-oriented, this was bound to happen, right?
The iRig hardware unit, pictured above, is quite simple. About the size of a firecracker, it’s got a quarter-inch guitar input on one end, and an eighth-inch stereo input (to your mobile device) and output (to headphones or powered speakers) on the other end. You could also use it with the line level signals from synthesizers or other keyboards, which sounds fun.
Earlier this year, IK Multimedia, which has become famous for their digital audio effects plug-ins like AmpliTube (reviewed in the May/June 2010 issue), released a stripped-down version of the program to be used on the iPhone or iPad. Now they’ve released an updated version of the AmpliTube app, with new features like a built-in one-track recorder and a SpeedTrainer for slowing down songs without affecting pitch. You can also import up to 50 songs from your iPod or iTunes library and use them as backing tracks. In AmpliTube 2, you can also export your creations as high quality WAV files, or email them from your phone as MP3s.
As for the effects, in the free version you get noise filter, delay and distortion stompboxes, plus one amp and two microphone choices. You can add more stompboxes a la carte, supplementing your arsenal with effects like fuzz, overdrive, wah, envelope filter, chorus, flanger, phaser and octave. A purchase of the complete AmpliTube app for $19.99 gives you 16 total effects, with version 2 adding compressor, reverb, parametric EQ, graphic EQ and limiter to the original 11.
The AmpliTube app’s interface is super user-friendly. A top nav bar lets you scroll through effects and amp choices and you can turn knobs on the pedals using the touch screen. And, sound-wise, it’s remarkably pristine for something that you walk around with in your pocket. Chalk that up to IK’s experience building top shelf plug-ins for years. What’s next for the mini studio? How about a guitar that could fit in your pocket too?