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Mobility Digest Review – IK Multimedia’s Amplitube iRig

You’re pushing through the crowd, relying on your body guards and the momentum from the rest of your band mates pushing from behind you to get you out alive.  The fans are screaming your name and grasping at your face, your arms, clothes, and… well, everything else.  Finally through the stage door, you straighten your clothes, mat down your hair, and set off in a jog towards the stage stairs.  The rush of adrenaline in your blood is the only thing keeping you going right now.  Nervously you pick up your axe, high five the rest of the band, and rush out onto the stage in front of a roaring, 50,000-strong crowd.  Then you plug your guitar into your iPhone and get rocking…

Err… wait.. huh?  An iPhone?  Oh.  You’re, not at a sold out concert at the convention center, or stadium.. no, you’re in your bedroom and you’re playing the guitar through your new IK Multimedia Amplitube iRig!  The iRig is a small device that plugs into your headphone jack on either an iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad.  The device has a 3.5mm headphone / audio-out jack, and a 1/4″ electric guitar (or bass) input jack.  Once you download one of the 3 versions of the Amplitube software from the App store (Free, $3, or $20 with varying degrees of functionality and features), you’re all set to rock.

Amplitube really ushers in a new way to play your guitar.  No longer do you need to be tethered to a large amp and effects pedals or panels.  All of the sound processing is handled by the excellent Amplitube software on your iOS device.  This means that you can now truly enjoy taking your guitar on trips.  You can record songs you write or play with the available (in-app purchase) 4-track recorder, and export them into wav format which can be downloaded via iTunes on your computer.  Effects pedals, which range from Wah pedals, Flangers and Phasers, to Delays, Fuzz, Distortion and more, can be applied to an assortment of cabinet emulations with choice of microphone.  All modeled in real time.   This software is very impressive.  I was able to nearly emulate the exact sound of Kirk Hammet’s guitar in Metallica’s “Master of Puppets” using just the iRig and Amplitube.  And I was using a bone-stock ’95 Fender Stratocaster!

The amplitube software allows you to tweak and perfect the settings on your amp, effects pedals, and levels and then set these in stone by creating presets which are easily changed on the fly by tapping a large button.  Presets can be used to go from a clean Fender-esque, almost acoustic sound with a slight delay and deep reverb, to a hard Marshall-style, crisp metal sound in the touch of a button.   I’m not 100% sure how much equipment is emulated in this software, (I’m positive that it’s in the 10’s of thousands though) but with an initial investment of about $40-60, I’m pretty sure you’re getting your money’s worth.

I give it two thumbs up, and maybe even a Gene Simmons tongue flick of approval.

The iRig is available online, and in stores like Best Buy or Guitar Center, for about $30-40.

Video review to come 🙂