Review: IK Multimedia iRig HD 2 | iLounge

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Review: IK Multimedia iRig HD 2

A-
Highly Recommended

Company: IK Multimedia

Model: iRig HD 2

MSRP: $100

Compatibility: All Lightning iPhone, iPad + iPod touch devices

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Jesse Hollington

IK Multimedia's iRig HD 2 is a sequel to the company's iRig HD, released three years ago. Where the 2013 iRig HD built on the company's original analog iRig with a direct high-quality digital interface, iRig HD 2 kicks it up a notch further, adding integrated amp and headphone output jacks — something that iPhone 7 users should particularly appreciate with the elimination of the iPhone's built-in 3.5mm jack. iRig HD 2 also doubles the original sampling rate of its predecessor, taking it up to an impressive 96kHz, with the same high quality 24-bit A/D conversion.

Despite the extra ports, iRig HD 2 still comes in only slightly larger than the original version — it gains about 0.35” in width while keeping the same height and length, and adds only half an ounce in weight; as with most of IK Multimedia’s other products, iRig HD 2 is built from light but durable plastic, so it’s ultra-compact and you can take it just about anywhere. The package also includes a 2’ Lightning to micro-USB cable, 2’ USB to micro-USB cable, and a detachable microphone stand mounting clip with a Velcro strip.

iRig HD 2 connects to your iOS device using the included cable via a micro-USB port on one end, which is also accompanied by a 3.5mm headphone jack that can be used for monitoring — again a particularly useful addition for iPhone 7/7 Plus users. On the other end, you’ll find two 1/4” jacks for connecting your guitar and sending output directly to an amp; an FX/Thru switch on the right hand side allows you to choose to either send the guitar’s dry signal without any processing — handy if you’re using an external rig — or send the iOS processed signal out directly so that you can effectively use IK’s AmpliTube app (or any other third-party Core Audio compatible effects app) on your iPhone or iPad as your effects pedalboard or tone rig. A volume control by the FX/Thru switch allows you to adjust output volume, and a gain control can be found on the other side.

With iRig HD 2, IK Multimedia is now for the first time unlocking the complete AmpliTube application, providing full versions of AmpliTube 4 for Mac, PC, iPhone, and iPad, with all features and all of the basic gear. As with prior IK Multimedia products, users need only to download the free version of AmpliTube from the App Store and then connect iRig HD 2 to unlock the full version. It’s a really nice bonus, as AmpliTube is a best-in-class guitar and bass tone and effects studio. As with most hardware accessories like iRig HD 2, it’s the software that makes the difference, and we appreciate what IK Multimedia has done here by including the full AmpliTube app, rather than simply unlocking only a few pieces of bonus gear as the company has done in the past.

Finally, in terms of sound quality at this point there’s really not much to add about the iRig HD 2 compared to its predecessor. The original iRig HD already provided extremely impressive sound, and while iRig HD 2 pushes the technical specs slightly, it’s honestly not something that we were able to really notice in our studio setup compared to the original iRig HD. That’s not to disparage what IK Multimedia has done here, but honestly it’s hard to make significant audible improvements to an accessory that already produced great sound to begin with. In short, iRig HD 2 still provides super clean and clear, distortion-free audio with no audible noise or crosstalk, thanks to the high-quality A/D converter and direct digital input via the Lightning connector. The frequency and volume ranges and gain levels continue to be impressive, and much like its predecessor, iRig HD 2 can continue to handle everything from screaming guitar solos down to the nuances of subtle classic guitar riffs.

Ultimately, what makes iRig HD 2 stand out from the prior version is simply the additional output options. A built-in headphone jack is pretty much a necessity for iPhone 7/7 Plus users, and still handy for older devices by providing an easier connection point. Similarly, the 1/4” amp output allows musicians to much more effectively use their iPad or iPhone as their complete audio processing rig, eliminating the need to carry around a lot of external equipment. Basically, with iRig HD 2 you can carry around everything you need for quality performing or studio sessions in your guitar case.

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Editors' Note: iLounge only reviews products in "final" form, but many companies now change their offerings - sometimes several times - after our reviews have been published. This iLounge article provides more information on this practice, known as revving.

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