Round-up: Four Portable Audio Interfaces

Get up and running with the best on-the-go interfaces
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In this column I have been extolling apps as an excellent means of creating new sounds with your guitar. In order to use them, however, you need a way to send your instrument’s signal through your iPhone, iPad, or Android device to be processed on its way to an amp, PA, or computer.

A number of companies make interfaces that serve this function. The list leans heavily on IK Multimedia products because they jumped on the bandwagon early and offer the widest variety of viable options. The full specs for each product are available online, but here are the essential details a guitarist should know.

IK MULTIMEDIA
IRIG HD 2
($99.99)

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This basic interface offers 24-bit/96kHz conversion, a 1/4” hi-Z input and a 1/4” amp output. The adjustable input gain control prevents overloading apps. The 1/8” headphone output lets you monitor the signal when using the Lightning port on devices with no headphone out, and it comes with mic stand support.

APOGEE
JAM 96K
($129)

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As the name suggests, the Jam 96K also supports 24-bit/96kHz. The knob is for adjusting levels, and a multicolor LED meter tells you if those levels are excessive. Should you run too hot, a soft-limiter prevents clipping into digital distortion. Jam 96K has a 1/4” input but no headphone jack or 1/4” output. Lightning and USB cables are included.

IK MULTIMEDIA
IRIG PRO I/O
($149)

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The Pro version adds MIDI I/O to the iRig feature set, and the 1/4” hi-Z/XLR combo input handles passive and active pickups. Separate control wheels regulate input and stereo output levels. It allows Lightning and USB output, with MIDI, Lightning and USB cables included. There is no 1/4” output but the 1/8” stereo headphone output can be used to send signal to speakers or mixers. It is powered by batteries or a 5.4-volt DC power supply (not included), which also charges iOS devices.

IK MULTIMEDIA
IRIG STOMP I/O
($299)

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This unit functions as a USB MIDI foot controller and a 24-bit/96kHz audio interface. It comes with an integrated device bay to securely hold your iPhone, iPad, or Microsoft Surface. Input Gain and Volume controls, along with LED input meters, help you keep levels under control. I/O includes a 1/4” hi-Z/mic/line combo input, 1/4” balanced stereo line and headphone outputs, and MIDI I/O. Four footswitches let you scroll through presets and turn effects on and off, while the onboard expression pedal can control parameters in real time. You can connect two additional external pedals or switches to the external control inputs. The Stomp I/O can be powered via USB or the included adapter.

ORANGE OMEC
TELEPORT GUITAR AUDIO INTERFACE
($139)

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This 16-bit/48kHz audio-interface pedal gives you the ability to easily switch apps in and out of the signal chain. It features a buffered mono 1/4” input and 1/4” stereo outputs. Teleport is powered by any standard 9V supply, but not USB. It requires the separate purchase of an Apple Camera Kit or an OTG for Android to connect to devices other Than laptops.

Other options are available, but these offer the best app integration solutions for the buck. Other than the Apogee Jam 96K, all of these interfaces include amp modeling software. I have used the iRig HD 2, OMEC Teleport, and iRig Stomp I/O, and all work very well. Depending on your needs, any one of the above could be the key to adding app processing to your current rig or setting up an entirely iOS-based system.