IK Multimedia iRig HD
A portable high-quality interface that plugs into your computer/phone/tablet for recording your guitar. Future is knocking and its name is iRig HD.
by A. Arsov, July 2016
I have been a bit frustrated with my recording setup on my laptop, being forced to connect my old big USB audio card whenever I need to record my guitar takes, changing the driver, worrying about different latency on different drivers, risking a computer crash after disconnecting the USB audio card, etc. The main problem was the vintage driver for my USB audio card, being from 2010 – what I can say – God bless discontinued products. All in all, this was just too many worries and an overabundance of monkey business for such a simple task. So, at one point I had enough of all those troubles and decided to give IK Multimedia iRig HD a try. I had heard a lot of good things about it, as my friend Jeannot uses a similar product, iRig and his only comment about this product was: “Fantastic.”
So, $99 USD dollars later (it is worth checking the IK site regularly, since they frequently have some discounts on various products, and iRig HD had been on that list not so long ago), I got my small box with iRig HD, three cables and pile of additional papers, from tutorials to promo materials, explaining what you get with various models of IK audio cards.
Setting the software up with my PC took just a minute or so. All I had to do was to open the ASIO4ALL setup window and select iRig HD as audio input. The best thing is that I can insert iRig HD in the middle of the session, record the guitar part and disconnect it without any problem, should I happen to need an additional USB port. iRig HD has an input and an output port, a diode light showing when is active, and a level knob to set your input gain. That’s all. The audio signal is very clean sounding and well defined, so setting the level is a breeze. I didn’t find any information on running iRig HD with its preamp feeding a high definition 24bit A/D converter. Does it contain a compressor or limiter applied inside the box? I don’t know, but the input signal seems very stable and you can set it quite hot (the signal from my old USB audio card looked quite a bit jumpier and it had to be dynamically processed before use).
HD stands for high definition, meaning that you are recording at 24 bit resolution at a 48 kHz sample rate that can go up to 96 kHz. The only week spot with this interface is a fact that I’m so thrilled with my new small tool, that I’ve started taking my guitar everywhere with me. iRig HD is quite small, portable and attractive, but my trusted heavyweight Telecaster with its old wooden case is far from being portable. On the plus side, when I get an inspiration now, I can finalize it without being forced just to record it temporarily on any handy media, deferring a final recording until I get back home. Things definitively sound different when they are fresh and ringing in your head than later when you try to recreate some badly made recording.
Why iRig HD?
iRig HD sounds better than iRig 2. Actually, it is a definitive solution for recording guitar. It also works with a PC and Android-based toys and not just with a Mac, iPad iPhone or other iPay device. Also you get some additional software that you don’t get with iRig 2 (Amplitube Metal, 25 IK credits for Mac/PC, and Cubasis LE for mobile applications). OK, I already had all those IK guitar software packs from before, but for me the quality, the signal to noise ratio along with a really nailed, clean signal was worth the price alone. Along with that, the portability and being so simple to use (after all, I’m a male, so no complications please), it’s absolutely priceless. Of course, IK Multimedia offers the whole spectrum of various iRig things, from a complete Audio/Midi portable card to a portable Audio/Video microphone for all the i-things you own to various mini keyboards and portable studio-quality speakers (those speakers are actually from the iLoud line and not iRig).
Before I got the small package containing iRig HD, I was afraid that it would constantly fall on the floor whenever I made any move with my guitar, pulling off connectors and destroying my USB port. After all, the whole thing is so small being almost lighter than my fat, expensive guitar cable. But for the unknown reasons, against all laws of physics, it stays quite stable on the table besides my computer.
I don’t own all those iPay toys, but according to various Youtube video clips, you should not have any problem setting this one up. Also, free Amplitube software that comes with a package can also serve as a multi-track recording tool, so you can record your ideas quite easy without losing any additional time, compared to turning on your main computer for a session on your “takes ages to boot” DAW.
For me, having a portable professional guitar input that allows me to record guitar literally everywhere is a big bonus. After all, you could even walk into a guitar shop, record a take on their “I can’t afford it” guitar, say thanks and walk out of the shop. OK, just joking. But you can record with it in a rehearsal, having iRig HD in your guitar case along the guitar cable. I don’t know how much are you familiar with IK’s range of virtual amps, but I can promise you that you will not regret trying Amplitube Metal that comes with the iRig HD pack. I have owned it for years, still using it, no matter that this is not my genre. People always claim that guitarists are a bit complicated, but this one is totally a no-brainer. Switch it in; play and record; switch it out. It couldn’t be simpler. To quote my dear friend Jeannot: “Fantastic”.