Hands on with IK Multimedia’s iRig PRO and new amp models

How time flies. Back in May, when I reviewed the iRig HD, I was in a band that was just getting going. Now, I’m once again a single musician. While the iRig PRO is very similar to the iRig HD, there’s one big difference: it now has an XLR jack and a MIDI in. IK Multimedia has also recently released some new amps to their Custom Shop (The Dr Z amps) as well as some pedals.

I’ll be taking a look at all their offerings here.

iRig PRO

The iRig PRO ($149) is basically the same as the iRig HD, but with an XLR jack. You can plug it into your Mac and iOS device (both 30-pin and Lightning cables included). I spent several weeks playing all my guitars through it (I suffered doing these tests, clearly) and experienced no problems. I also experienced no problems with it on the Mac or IOS, in an app I tried. I had a very slight hiccup getting it to work with Logic X, but re-setting the iRig PRO as the audio device in Logic fixed that.

As I mentioned, the iRIG PRO has an XLR connection (it’s a combo connection). The unit is bigger than the iRig HD, about twice as thick, to account for the extra space for a 9v battery. While you don’t need this battery for day to day use of the device, it can be used to provide phantom power if your dynamic microphone requires it.

I used the iRig PRO to mike my amp and had no problems getting a decent sound through it. I did not try singing through it, as, well, my singing leaves quite a bit to be desired. I could see the iRIG PRO being very handy for a musician who needs to record an instrument and then lay down some vocals. While it’s not capable of multitracking, it will obviously handle overdubs quite well.

If you’re in the market for a sub-$200 audio interface and need to be able to record via a microphone, the iRIG PRO will handle your needs. If you’re thinking of getting the iRig HD, I’d spend the extra $50 and just get the PRO. That way, if you need to record via a microphone you’re good to go.


The new Custom Shop offerings

I’ve talked about my complete love affair with IK Multimedia’s models before. I always get excited when they come out with new models, and this time they have new amps by Dr Z, as well as pedals including the Fulltone OCD. There’s a YouTube video from IK Multimedia here where you can listen to the different amps.

Dr Z amps

The Dr Z amps are boutique amps (a nice way of saying damn expensive amps) used by stars such as Brad Paisley. I’ve never played through a Dr Z amp, so I can’t tell you how close a $40-ish software model of a $1,800 amp sounds — call me cynical, I’m going to guess that the real amp sounds better. That said, I was impressed with the amp.┬áThese amps are definitely not for hard rock or metal, as they don’t really have a lot of gain to them. However, with the settings dimmed, they did start to break up in a tone similar to Stevie Ray Vaughan’s sound: clean, just starting to break up.

Now, the breakup and the sound is one way I can tell the difference between a real tube amp and a model. While I think modeling is just fine, and great for people that want to record on their Macs, but nothing to me breaks up like a tube amp cranked up. So, while the Dr Z amps sound pretty good, I did wish I had the real amps in my studio cranked up.

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Fulltone OCD Pedal

I’ve largely stayed away from stomp boxes in Amplitube, especially overdrives and distortions. I’ve just never really liked them and prefer instead to get my gain from their amps instead.

Playing the Fulltone OCD pedal made my ears bleed, in the good way musicians love. This pedal is great. I found I was able to get sounds from a nice little break up to a full-out distortion that I was jamming along to some Judas Priest with. It’s about to become my new favorite sound in Amplitube, and I’m thinking of adding a real one to my pedal board.

Final Thoughts

I’ve been a big fan of IK Multimedia’s gear for a long time. I really think they are on to something with their licensed amps and effects. Their products have really helped me expand my sonic palette. I totally love the Fulltone OCD pedal, and the tremolo pedals are great for when I start to get my surf music vibe on.

Now, IK Multimedia, get something going with Mesa Boogie, ok?