Review: iRig HD

It’s a brave new world of audio possibilities on iOS. As a guitarist, it’s essential that you have a good interface to plug your guitar into your device. After a month with the new iRig HD, it has become an indispensible tool for me. Whether it’s practicing, capturing ideas or just rocking out, this device is a winner.

I don’t know if there is any manufacturer out there that has embraced iOS in the way IK Multimedia has. They make all kinds of nifty iOS gear and were one of the first manufacturers to create a guitar interface specifically for iOS devices. 

However, I passed on the first version of the iRig. Instead, I bought an Apogee Jam as soon as it was released. I chose it over the original iRig because I wanted an interface that went into the dock connector, not the headphone jack. The Jam certainly works well enough, but I’ve had problems with mine where the connection would get lost if you bumped it in the slightest. The only way I could get it to reconnect was unplugging and re-plugging the device until the hardware connected up. As you might imagine, this is enough to make you want to throw it against the wall. To be fair, I’ve asked around a bit and no one else I’ve spoken to about this has this problem, so it’s likely that I got a “lemon”.

Even if I had a properly-working Jam, I would still prefer the iRig HD. The connection points just feel more solid to me. The iRig uses a high-friction 9-pin connection between the unit and the dock connector to the device. This feels much more solidly connected and I wouldn’t hesitate to let the unit dangle by this connection. Whereas for the Jam, I wouldn’t dare as I’d likely lose the connection. However in both cases, I’m pretty confident the unit would stay attached.

Compared to the Jam, I prefer the design of the iRig converter unit. It’s a little smaller and more compact. I like that the gain knob has a slightly higher friction making it less likely you’ll accidentally change it when when you slide the unit into your pocket. It also feels more solid than the Jam. Not that you would want to, but if I had to drop one on the floor, it feels like the iRig would survive the fall better.

Interfaces

Interfaces

The package comes with three connectors: original 30-pin iOS dock connector, the new “Lightning” port and USB for connecting to a desktop machine. Both the converter unit and cables feel very solid and well-made. The whole unit is compact enough that I can often put my iPhone and the iRig right in my back pocket. I put some earbuds in and I can walk around the entire house rocking out in my own little world.

What else is there to say about this? An item like this is something that I just want to work. I don’t need a bunch of bells and whistles. Just get my guitar signal into the device and let’s play. The iRig HD meets this need perfectly.