To turn a mobile device as an iPhone or an iPad into a professional multi-effect one is the challenge which Ik Multimedia and Peavy have been posing to themselves. Let’s find out how it went.
When I downloaded the iRig software and later the Ampkit one I immediately noticed the presence of a denoiser/noise gate already in the free version. I thought it was some kind of mistake considering that it is not exactly the most desired pedal among guitarists. But once I turned on my system and put my headphones on I immediately understood the reason!! The noise is there, and the ground noise is rather high! For those who are into extreme distortion it can be acceptable, after all it is noise mixed with the distortion, but, as for signals which tend to be clean, in my opinion, it is instead a rather big problem. * Be careful: if you watch the “official” videos on youtube, strangely enough the noise is often not audible, but I can assure you that it’s there even without plugging in any guitar. We have been testing the systems with iPhone4 and iPad1-2, the results are analogous.
I have been waiting for a while before saying something about the two products, they are two parallel realities which resemble each other. The two programs have been both created with a very catchy graphics, the hardware simulation of the multi-effect pedals is really faithful. If I had to choose between one or the other I would be difficult for me to tell which one. It is possible to build chains of effects, turn on and off its elements, work keys and knobs thanks to the touch screen. Indeed, in both cases we need to use hands and this aspect happens to be uncomfortable for the two-handed able-bodied guitarist when it comes to a live setting! It is much more reasonable, instead, using these products in a studio and I think that’s where both of them are really amazing. Let’s check out the programs in detail for their free versions.
- Noise gate (threshold + decay)
- Elevenizer: some sort of distorter with gain, tone and level control
- Amplifiers: 1×12” and 4×12” versions for Peavy valve kit in
- Microfoni: dynamic Workhorse 57 and condenser German 57
- Extras: metronome, tuner, backing track player, loop recorder
- Noise filter (the only “depth” control)
- Delay (delay, feedback, level and bmp sync)
- Distortion (Tone, character, gain, level)
- Amplificatore: 4×12”
- metronome and tuner
- loop recorder
It is possible to buy a vast library of effects for both products.
The first difference that jumps out is that Ampkit works on batteries while iRig is passive. Therefore iRig can be used straight away and eternally while Ampkit needs batteries and a little bit of additional maintenance. Both products have got an unbalanced input for the instrument we choose to plug in and a stereo output for the headphone. Its use is very immediate and always the same once you’ve started the software and plugged everything. iRig invested a little bit more on the appearance of the product which, in the end, turns out to be smaller and less home-made but de gustibus non disputandum est..(to each his own)
Both of them are plug & play products.
Headphone line out for both.
This characteristic works in Ampkit favour in terms of sound dynamics, the battery power which enables the circuit plays its part.
Within the Ampkit amplitude modulation circuit, together with the sound, the ground noise is amplified too, therefore iRig turns out to be more silent with signals being equal.
Let’s sum it up
Both products are efficient, I don’t feel like suggesting them for a professional use but rather keeping them in your bag for emergency cases or for studying. Personally, I’m giving preference to iRig especially for its quick use without worrying about any batteries or else. I believe that for commercial reasons and for some sort of a mass enthusiasm too many expectations have been built around these products.
Both products can be used with other programs such as Garage band and the like, of course without using the proprietary software but only as interface. It is possible, for the free version, to record the guitar with a loop, while buying the full version, it is possible to add more tracks.
Italian to English translation: Umberto del Giudice