Hands-On Review: IK Multimedia iRig HD Guitar Interface

When the iPad was released in 2010, it created a market for tablet computing that simply did not exist before. Initially, most iPad owners used it as an Internet consumption device; a clever new means for browsing, watching videos, checking email, playing games, and interacting with their online life. As updates to both the iOS operating system and the hardware itself brought more powerful processing, subsequent generations of the iPad have allowed owners to use the device as a creation tool. An ever-growing number of musicians and hobbyists have begun to rely on it for songwriting, production, and live use.

IK Multimedia has recognized the creative potential of the iPad (and iOS devices in general) and has been making iOS app versions of their popular AmpliTube guitar amp emulation software for some time. Something else IK Multimedia has recognized: no matter how great your audio software might sound, it is meaningless if you can’t connect your instrument to the hardware. Enter the iRig HD.

The iRig HD seems to have taken its design lead right from Apple. It is a small, simple, and clean-looking device that allows you to connect from the 1/4" out on your guitar or bass (or line level source, for that matter) to your iOS device or Mac computer, be it an iPod touch, iPhone, iPad, or Macbook Pro. IK Multimedia shows that portability and a small form factor are king when it comes to physical design. At just shy of 4” long, the iRig HD is smaller than an iPhone and takes up less space in your pocket. 

Clearly designed for intuitive use, the iRig HD has a single 1/4" instrument input and swappable output cables, depending on your device (more on that in a moment). The only actual control on the iRig HD comes in the form of a preamp gain control knob. It takes bus power from the device you’re using it with, be it your iPhone or Macbook, so it requires no batteries.

The iRig HD shows the clear evolution of how people are using their iOS devices for music when compared to the original iRig. Whereas that relied on the less than stellar analog-to-digital conversion on your iOS device, the iRig HD is a full-fledged preamp and analog-to-digital converter that is capable of audio resolutions up to 24-bit/48kHz. With this, you immediately have better-sounding audio going into your device, which is going to amount to better-sounding output as well. IK Multimedia even includes detachable USB, 30-pin, and Lightning connectors so you can get started using the iRig HD out of the box regardless of what device you’ll use with it. 

You can get started jamming right away with the AmpliTube Free and AmpliTube Fender Free apps for both the iPhone and iPad. IK Multimedia also provides 4 exclusive gear models to be used with the full version of AmpliTube for iOS. The only way to get this gear pack is with the iRig HD, so you’ll have access to some exclusive software, including amp models based on the Randall Warhead 300 and the Peavy 5150, and effects based on the DigiTech Whammy pedal and the MXR Flanger 117. For your Mac, you get the AmpliTube Metal collection that has 48 gear models. You’ll be able to record a single track of guitar on the iOS apps, which can be expanded to 4 tracks on the iPhone and iPod touch and 8 tracks on the iPad through in-app upgrades.

While it was designed to complement the AmpliTube line of apps and software, the iRig HD works just as well with any real-time audio apps or software. You can use it to connect and record into Garage Band on your iPad or your favorite DAW on your Mac.

If you have any questions about the iRig HD, you can ask a B&H Sales Professional at our SuperStore in New York City, give us a call at 1-800-606-6969, or you can join us online for a Live Chat.

Maximum Input Levelfrom 330 mVpp to 7 Vpp
Gain Control Range26 dB
Input Noise-97 dB RMS
Distortion (THD)0.005%
Frequency Response20 Hz to 20 kHz (+/- 0.2 dB)
Conversion24-bit A/D
Sampling Rate44.1/48 kHz
CompatibilityiPhone 5, 4S, 4; iPod touch 5th and 4th generation; iPad 4th, 3rd Generation, iPad 2, iPad, iPad mini; Mac computers with one free USB port
System RequirementsiOS 5.1 or later; Mac OS X 10.5 or later
Dimensions (W x L x H)1.18 x 3.9 x 0.85" (30 x 99 x 21mm)
Weight1.23 oz (35 g)