IK Multimedia has revealed a successor to its undeniably popular iRig digital guitar/bass/instrument interface for iPhone, iPod touch, iPad and Mac. New to the iRig HD is a built-in high quality analog-to-digital converter that's promised to eliminate noise and crosstalk, while preserving all the subtle tonal flavors of your instrument.

The original iRig started shipping worldwide in July 2010 and has since, according to IK Multimedia, become the most popular guitar interface of all time. Unlike its predecessor, there's no headphone jack on the iRig HD itself. The instrument is still plugged in at one end of the iRig HD via the 0.25-inch Hi-Z audio input jack, but the output signal is routed to the chosen Apple device courtesy of a supplied lightning, 30-pin or USB cable. Headphones for monitoring will now need to be plugged into the 3.5-mm audio jack of the iPhone (4, 4S and 5), iPod touch (4th and 5th gen), iPad (all versions) or Mac (running OS X 10.5 or later).

The iRig HD is a good deal bigger and heavier than the original at 1.18 x 3.9 x 0.85 inches (30 x 99 x 21 mm) and 1.23 ounces (35 g), but not painfully so. It doesn't have its own power source, but IK Multimedia says that its low-power circuitry shouldn't prove too much of a drain on the connected mobile iOS device's battery.

The new kid on the instrument interface block features a 24-bit A/D converter that's claimed to offer a superior digital sound quality, that’s comparable to that of high-end interfaces used in computer-based studios. It has a frequency response in tune with the range of human hearing at 20 Hz to 20 kHz, a reported total harmonic distortion of 0.005 percent, input noise of -97 dB RMS and input level from 330 mVpp to 7 Vpp, and there's 26 dB of gain control, too.

The iRig HD is compatible with third-party music creation applications like Apple's GarageBand, but IK Multimedia has its own suite called AmpliTube. Having had the chance to play around with the PC version of this digital amp modeling and effects simulation app when I reviewed the OPC musician's computer from Orange Amps, I can confirm that it's well worth the financial outlay.

If you don't want to part with your hard-earned savings on the whole shebang, however, a stripped-down free version is available to download from the App Store that you can add more virtual amps and effects to piecemeal fashion.

Pricing and availability for the iRig HD has yet to be announced (the original iRig carries a recommended retail of US$39.99).

Although IK Multimedia has recently launched its first Android recording app and made five of its iRig mobile accessories compatible with Android devices, the iRig HD wasn't among them.

"The iRig HD is currently not supporting Android, even though in our testing we have seen positive results," the company's Paul Hudson told us. "The main concern is that you need an USB A female to Micro USB adapter or cable to connect it. In addition, you must use an app that supports USB audio on Android, and as of today there are only a few. For these reasons, we are not currently offering support with Android, just iOS and Mac."

Product page: iRig HD

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