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Sonoma Wire Works GuitarJack $199 MSRP www.sonomawireworks.com

December 1, 2010
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GuitarJack_nrTHE BIG PICTURE
We have travel guitars, now meet the travel studio. Sonoma Wire Works makes FourTrack, a multitrack recorder (for iOS 3.0 or later, iPhone 3G or later, iPod Touch 2nd-gen or later), but do you want to be limited to using the iThingie’s audio? And where are you going to plug in a 1/4" guitar cord, or find a suitably high-impedance input and headphone out? Enter GuitarJack.

GEEK SPEAK
As we’re in Apple-land, here’s what works and what doesn’t. GuitarJack is compatible with iOS 4 apps, but not with iPhone 4, iPad, or iPod Touch 4th-gen. (However, a new model scheduled for release in Q1 2011 provides compatibility with these units, and there’s an upgrade offer for existing owners—see www.sonomawireworks.com/guitarjack/upgrade/.) Its 30-pin connector is compatible with iPod Touch (2nd- and 3rd-gen) and iPhone 3G/3GS.

Rather than using the host’s audio connector, GuitarJack goes through the data port, minimizing latency and improving fidelity. Although GuitarJack works “out of the box” with many audio apps, for total control you can use the control panel from an appropriate app (e.g., FourTrack or the free Taylor EQ) to take full advantage of the 1/4" input (switchable between hi- and low-Z, as well as pad), 1/8" jacks for audio input (switchable among pad, normal, and boost modes), enable input monitoring, and manage the inputs—you can use both simultaneously, and they have variable gain up to 60dB.

REAL WORLD
GuitarJack is all-metal and substantial. You could probably throw it across the room and have it survive—providing the data port connector survives, but that’s not Sonoma Wire Works’ issue. In fact, I suspect it will handily outlast its host (especially if the persistent overheating issue on my daughter’s iPhone that killed it slowly over a period of 18 months is any indication).

HITS AND MISSES
The big deal is the sound quality, along with the 1/4" high-impedance input. But being able to record a mic and guitar at the same, as well as the integration with FourTrack, are also important. The only real limitation is the compatibility issue with various iThingies, but that’s beyond Sonoma Wire Works’ control.

TARGET AUDIENCE
GuitarJack is ideal for musicians on the go. But it’s also a clean, clear, robust audio interface that far outpaces the audio capabilities of the iPhone/iPod Touch itself—if you’re into listening to music on the road, plugging your ’phones into GuitarJack beats plugging directly into the host. And while GuitarJack isn’t teeny-tiny, it’s definitely small enough to put in your pocket and carry around with a small mic for grabbing samples from the real world. All in all, this is a durable, hi-fi winner.

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