Hands-on with iRigHD

Keith White
26 May, 2013
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Having been delighted with the original iRig guitar interface I was eagerly awaiting a test drive of the iRigHD which was launched at NAMM 2103. So what is it? It’s still a guitar/bass/instrument interface but with a huge lift in audio quality. This comes from a 24-bit A/D converter which cleans up the signal to crystal clarity. It has a built-in gain control and a multicolour LED which lets me know what’s happening with my signal. Blue for standby and then green through orange to overload red. Clever.

Unlike its predecessor the iRigHD connects to the 30-pin socket on my iPad rather than to the headphone socket. Two other supplied leads connect either via USB or Lightning to my iMac. No batteries are needed but with ultra low power consumption it runs happily from my iPad without noticeably draining power.

I connect my guitar to the iRigHD with a standard cable and take sound out via the headphone socket either to headphones or to my amplifier. The device works with any audio software that accepts instrument input. These include the IK Multimedia Amplitube range  (Original, Fender, Slash or Jimi Hendrix, as well as JamUp Pro or GarageBand.)

I tried it with a range of apps on my iPad and found that the unit lives up to its publicity. Clean sounds were even cleaner, if that’s possible, but the biggest difference was when I got into some of my presets with added effects. Chorus particularly was much sharper, really ringing like a bell in the higher registers. With tremolo and phase effects I noticed similar enhancements. Even distortion effects sounded better. The unit also feels more secure connecting through the 30-pin socket rather than through the headphone socket.

Connecting via the USB cable into my iMac running GarageBand I loaded up one of my favourite MIDI files, created a new guitar track, chose an app/stomp box set up and away I went. Even through the iMac speakers it sounded great and when I connected it to my amplifier I got the full effect.

For what it does the iRigHD is amazingly compact – about the size of a cigar, (remember those?) and with its rubberised casing it feels very robust. Highly recommended if you need to improve the quality of your sound for performance or recording. For me the iRigHD has taken my live guitar sound to an exciting new level.


The iRigHD is $129.95 including GST from the Apple Store.

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