I recently reviewed the iConnect Audio4+, an amazing audio/MIDI interface that allows you to integrate an iPad into your DAW. There are times, however, when you might want to send your guitar signal straight to your iPad, whether to make it part of your effects system for live shows or for recording purposes, and/or times when a complex system like iConnect may be overkill. For those occasions, and for a variety of other uses, consider IK Multimedia’s iRig Pro ($149.99).
IK Multimedia’s pocket-sized iRig PRO is a 24-bit interface for your iOS device or Mac. It sports a high-quality XLR combo input with gain control, 9V battery power that provides +48V phantom power for condenser microphones, and a MIDI input. The bundled cables provide compatibility with almost all devices and music gear. You also get a collection of apps including AmpliTube, VocaLive, iRig Recorder, SampleTank, and iGrand.
I tried it both straight into my iMac and iPad. In each case the latency was a non-issue. With my iPad, I used the iRig to send my guitar through AmpliTube, opened in Audiobus. The signal went out of the iPad through a “Y” cable from the headphone jack to two inputs in a Focusrite Pro 14 interface. From there it went into my iMac where I was running Ableton Live. Then I opened Borderlands Granular in Audiobus’ second slot and added a slot for AUFX:Space for some reverb.
Borderlands is an amazing app that lets me record audio and then process it granularly in an astounding number of morphing ways. My only carp is that you can only hear the original signal, while you are recording. I need to see if there is away to run it in parallel in Audiobus. I recorded some of the various processed results into Live clips. The result is what you hear as the backing in the video, accompanied by a drum loop run through Bram@Smartelectronix Supa Trigga to break up the monotony.
I then replaced Borderlands and AUFX:Space with Noiise Flux:FX by Adrian Belew in the Audiobus chain. Flux:FX is an awesome app but a huge CPU hog. If you use it in Audiobus, make sure none of the apps you have removed are still running in the background. With Flux:FX I was able to play lines, sample portions to its Stutter Loop effect, and further process them with its Ring Modulator. I could either have both effects engage when I touched the screen, shifting their parameters as I moved my finger around, or set the effects to remain on. You can see all this in the video. (You may have to listen closely to hear the effect because I recorded the audio through the camera.)
There are a half-dozen iPad apps that offer sound shaping possibilities unavailable elsewhere: Borderlands, Samplr, Flux:FX, Yellowfier, Thumbjam, to name a few. An iPad and a means to send a guitar signal through it are becoming essential elements of the forward thinking player’s toolkit. Though I didn’t get a chance yet to explore the MIDI aspect of the iRig Pro, I can already say its quality sound, simplicity, and virtually latency-free operation make it a serious player in the world of iOS music making.