IK Multimedia returns to its roots with its new iRig 2 guitar interface ($40), the direct successor to its original 2010 iRig. iRig 2 aims to provide a more affordable, analog version of the company’s iRig HD, retaining the analog connections of the 2010 original while adding a few additional nice touches such as an adjustable input gain control, 1/4″ amp output, and a new direct passthrough mode.
The design of iRig 2 closely matches IK Multimedia’s previous models, including the same lightweight durable plastic design, although a couple of nice touches have been added from prior iRig models, including a removable clip on the back and an included fastening strap that facilitates easy mounting on a music or microphone stand to keep the adapter out of the way. A new input gain dial and FX/THRU switch have been added to the side, and the headphone jack now sits on the same end of the guitar input, with the other end sporting a 1/4” jack for connecting to an external amp.
As with IK Multimedia’s original iRig and iRig HD, the iRig 2 is designed to work with the company’s own AmpliTube app, although obviously the headphone-jack-connected device can be used with just about any audio effects or audio processing app, such as Apple’s Garageband.
In its standard mode, input is passed from the connected guitar into the attached iOS device, processed by the appropriate app, and then sent back out through the amp output. The new FX/THRU switch, however, allows the user to instead choose to pass the signal directly through the iRig 2 to the connected amp, providing for a clean analog output while still allowing the connected iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch to be used for non-effects processing applications such as recording or tuning.
iRig 2 performs generally about the same as the original iRig in terms of sound quality, which is not surprising as unlike the more sophisticated digital iRig HD, the iRig 2 contains no specific electronics — it’s essentially a patch cable to provide a way to connect your guitar to your iPad or other iOS device, which then does the necessary heavy lifting for you in terms of cleaning up and processing your signal. That said, the gain control on this latest model provides much more flexibility for adjusting the signal prior to sending it into your iOS device, which in practice gives the iOS apps such as AmpliTube a better and cleaner signal to work with.
When we pulled out our original iRig for comparison, it was apparent that the adjustability of the iRig 2 made it more versatile for a wider variety of setups and performance applications — we found it a lot easier to avoid clipping when playing on a vintage Strat, for example.
The iRig 2 is a worthy successor to the company’s original iRig, with usable tweaks that improve it all around at the same reasonable and attractive price point as the original. That said, while the price tag will be appealing for those that just want to noodle around, anybody who is serious about doing performance on their iOS device would still do better to look to the company’s iRig HD, a professional-grade guitar interface with a built-in digital-to-analog converter.