My iOS Guitar Journey

This was Friday afternoon and Friday night, I had band practice. I created a few slightly tonally different presets trying to anticipate how this would fare once bass and drums were in the mix, plugged into my Blackstar and got ready for practice. I hot glued my iRig 2 to the iPad case (scared as hell of the notoriously unreliable 1/8″ jack of course), and clamped it all in a mic stand mounted iPad holder. Things went surprisingly well, and the tuner was really handy. You know my rants about tuning, so tune early and tune often! Overall a very pleasant experience with no real technical issues. Even used the wah! Switching between the dual paths, though mugh longer of a delay than I would be comfortable with, was workable.

For the next few days, I started making bread and butter presets, and having a much better attitude about the iOS experience in general. Where I had almost given up several times and cursed my investment in this stuff, I was now feeling about as confident as if I had one of those cheap, plasticky multi-FX pedalboard things, and in some ways, a bit more upbeat than that, due to the potential flexibility….I still say “potential” as some of these plasticky pedal things are still far more immediately functional in some areas.

And there we go: immediacy. Here’s where that slimey, unethical, iCulture feeling comes up again. In these apps in general, there are, and to some extent, forgivable by the nature of not having a mouse and keyboard and the smaller screen size, often menus deep before you get to time critical settings and functions. This can make it a bit scary live and difficult while editing presets. But the real killer is when these things are obfuscated behind or below pay to win storefronts. I know the maxim of never attributing malice where incompetence would suffice, but this really really does feel like putting parasitic App Store interests before the customer’s (especially when you’ve already bought the damn thing) needs. iCulture itself makes things unnecessarily difficult, unreliable, and again, slimy.

As I guessed my way through learning these apps, along with receiving help from many friends and forumites, the problems inherent in the headphone jack style interface became more and more of an issue to me. Setting the input gain on the iRig 2 was somewhat problematic, as the gain control doesn’t lock in any way and gets moved. I used a nice low tech solution of duct tape to keep it in place. However, it was not really the optimal gain, as there was still a lot of noise, but any higher and the dreaded feedback was likely to occur. The output gain was also just too low for me to be comfortable.

The 1/8″ style interfaces were a great first step, and I wouldn’t knock those early pioneers who made these things, but there were definitely better options available now, so I got one.

Enter the iRig HD2. A lightning interface which seemingly had analog to digital and digital to analog converters onboard. I’m not positive, but seems to me to be that way.

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