Sponsors
Sponsors

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor
« David Kassan uses a Nomad Brush Stylus | Main | Akai SynthStation49 - iPad docking Keyboard »

iRig vs AmpKit LiNK - which is better? Part 2 of 2

This is the second of a two part head to head review of iRig and AmpKit LiNK, arguably the two primary guitar (or other line level instrument) interfaces for the iPad (of the ones that use the headphone socket).

In Part 1 we set out the use for these interfaces and compared the basic dry signal passed from a guitar via these interfaces and the Clean Amp settings in the two iPad apps that partner with these devices, Amplitube and AmpKit.

In Part 2 we are going to ramp up the gain and continue to compare the performance of these two guitar interfaces. Read on to find out what happens as the volume gets louder...

Crunch Time

The next thing we are going to look at is the Crunch preset in each app with both guitar interfaces. In Amplitube it is Preset 1 - 'Mild Crunch' and 'Captain Crunchy' in AmpKit.

The Crunch Amp in Amplitube

If you listen very carefully you may hear that the AmpKit LiNK provides a slightly clearer, less muddy sound than the iRig. This was the case in both apps, and there is a definite small volume lift when using the battery powered AmpKit LiNK over the non-powered iRig.

This has an effect on the tone of the guitar which becomes more evident, although still slight, when using a bit more gain.

Here are a couple of samples.

iRig into Amplitube - Crunch

AmpKit LiNK into Amplitube - Crunch

Metal Mayhem

Finally, we stopped playing nice and opened up the screaming distortion and high gain amp models to see what these interfaces could do. Apart from make a lot of noise (thank goodness for the headphone out) this part of the test showed the key issue with these type of guitar interfaces - susceptibility to screeching feedback, apparently due to crosstalk from the close proximity of microphone and audio out circuits (or something similar).

If you have ever stood in front of a guitar amp with full bore distortion dialled in you will a) know just how much fun this is and b) know that you are walking a fine line between cutting tone and screeching, eardrum shattering feedback.

When on the high-gain settings in Amplitube we really didn't have any feedback problems from either guitar interface until we introduced a Distortion stompbox and a Fuzz pedal on top of the Metal Amp setting. The AmpKit LiNK seemed to be more resilient as we increased the gain, drive and volume controls in Amplitube, although not by a massive amount.

Fighting Feedback

The real difference came when we switched to the high-gain Peavey-type amp in the AmpKit app. As soon as we plugged the iRig in to AmpKit with the 'Killing the King' preset engaged we almost blew our eardrums out through audio feedback.

We had to reduce the Input gain from the iRig all the way down to about 19% and the Output gain down to around 23% before we could take our hand away from the strings without feedback. This was with the 'Noise & Feedback Filter' set to 60%, meaning a serious lack of sustain (this filter cuts the audio signal as soon as it detects interference or feedback, which means cutting off notes instead of leaving them to ring out).

With the AmpKit LiNK interface, plugged into the AmpKit app and the same raucous amp setting as we had before, we were able to set the Input Gain at about 38% with the Output Gain around 50%. The Noise & Feedback Filter was pared all the way back to about 15%.

This gives a much more biting and responsive tone with longer sustain, but we still had to fine tune the settings and fiddle quite a bit before we could reduce the feedback to acceptable levels and even then it was not entirely gone.

AmpKit App Metal (Killing the King) Preset with Gain settings

Overall then, we have to say that the AmpKit LiNK does a much better job of fighting off the feedback for longer with extremely high-gain settings, which the AmpKit app has in spades being modelled on the raunchy and particularly Metal oriented Peavey and Mesa Boogie amps.

These samples were played after adjustments were made, because we guess you know what feedback sounds like. They are a bit louder so you may want to drop the volume a bit, especially if you are listening via headphones.

iRig into Amplitube - Metal Amp + Distortion

AmpKit LiNK into Amplitube - Metal Amp + Distortion

iRig into AmpKit App - 'Killing the King' Preset

AmpKit LiNK into AmpKit App - 'Killing the King' Preset

Cable Length

One noticeable difference between these two interfaces is the length of cable and the socket positioning. The cable that leads from the iRig to your iDevice is very short. This means that it is a little bit awkward when a fairly heavy guitar cable is connected and can pull on the iPad making it unstable if on a stand or stood up in a case, especially if you have the iPad's Home button on the left.

The iRig also has the headphone cable on the opposite side to the 1/4" connecter where your guitar cable plugs into, so that you have cables going in two directions, which again can be annoying.

If you set the iRig up carefully before you start it is not too bad, but the AmpKit LiNK wins out here, although slightly heavier and with a larger form factor (probably because of the batteries) the AmpKit LiNK has a much longer cable to plug into your iDevice which means you can lay it on the desk or table next to your iPad.

There is still the danger of pulling the AmpKit LiNK and toppling the iPad, but with both connectors (1/4" and 1/8") on one side, opposite the cable to your Device, cable routing is a lot less problematic. 

Pricing

The prices are similar for both interfaces, iRig retails for about $40 (£25) and AmpKit LiNK for around $30 (£29). The price difference seems to be because the iRig is produced here in Europe so the AmpKit LiNK ends up being cheaper in the US.

Final Thoughts

As we said at the outset, we are not audio specialists so you may get varying results but we were impressed by the ease of use of both interfaces and the results.

The AmpKit LiNK will need batteries to work, although they seem to last quite a long time. It could leave you stuck though if you are away from home and have forgotten to bring spare batteries with you.

If you are primarily going to use IK Multimedia's Amplitube we would recommend either IK Multimedia's own iRig or Peavey/Agile's AmpKit LiNK.

We think they are both brilliant ways of getting your guitar (or other line level) signal into the iPad, but...

**Our overall winner of this head to head comparison is AmpKit LiNK.**

We would recommend the AmpKit LiNK for the most compatibility, especially if you are primarily going to use the AmpKit app with the high-gain amps (which by the way sound amazing!).

Whilst we would not say that AmpKit LiNK eliminates feedback, we think the circuitry inside it does reduce the effect when using high-gain settings in any app. Just be sure to keep a few spare AAA batteries in your guitar case.

So that's it, we hope you found this review useful. You can hear all of our samples from both Parts of this head to head test in one place by visiting this SoundCloud Setlist (it should work on your iPad once you get there).

If you have anything you would like to add or if you would like to let us know your experience of using iRig, AmpKit LiNK or any of the guitar amp simulation apps, please leave us a comment below.

If you don't already, you can follow iPad Creative on Twitter or Facebook (or both) for more information and news about stuff like this and other Creative uses of the iPad. 

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

References (17)

References allow you to track sources for this article, as well as articles that were written in response to this article.
  • Response
    Response: projekty domów
    iPad Creative - iPad Creative - iRig vs AmpKit LiNK - which is better? Part 2 of 2
  • Response
    iPad Creative - iPad Creative - iRig vs AmpKit LiNK - which is better? Part 2 of 2
  • Response
    Response: pasja wrocław
    iPad Creative - iPad Creative - iRig vs AmpKit LiNK - which is better? Part 2 of 2
  • Response
    Response: projekty domóW
    iPad Creative - iPad Creative - iRig vs AmpKit LiNK - which is better? Part 2 of 2
  • Response
    Response: Saleh Stevens
    iPad Creative - iPad Creative - iRig vs AmpKit LiNK - which is better? Part 2 of 2
  • Response
    Response: Saleh Stevens
    iPad Creative - iPad Creative - iRig vs AmpKit LiNK - which is better? Part 2 of 2
  • Response
    Response: Saleh Stevens
    iPad Creative - iPad Creative - iRig vs AmpKit LiNK - which is better? Part 2 of 2
  • Response
    Response: Saleh Stevens
    iPad Creative - iPad Creative - iRig vs AmpKit LiNK - which is better? Part 2 of 2
  • Response
    Response: Saleh Stevens
    iPad Creative - iPad Creative - iRig vs AmpKit LiNK - which is better? Part 2 of 2
  • Response
    Response: Saleh Stevens
    iPad Creative - iPad Creative - iRig vs AmpKit LiNK - which is better? Part 2 of 2
  • Response
    Response: Saleh Stevens
    iPad Creative - iPad Creative - iRig vs AmpKit LiNK - which is better? Part 2 of 2
  • Response
    Response: Saleh Stevens
    iPad Creative - iPad Creative - iRig vs AmpKit LiNK - which is better? Part 2 of 2
  • Response
    Response: Saleh Stevens
    iPad Creative - iPad Creative - iRig vs AmpKit LiNK - which is better? Part 2 of 2
  • Response
    Response: Saleh Stevens
    iPad Creative - iPad Creative - iRig vs AmpKit LiNK - which is better? Part 2 of 2
  • Response
    Response: Saleh Stevens
    iPad Creative - iPad Creative - iRig vs AmpKit LiNK - which is better? Part 2 of 2
  • Response
    Response: new year 2016
    rhfdgj
  • Response
    These two applications have changed the face of ipad usage in music industry. Ipad has become important item or device in music which is helping a lot to music people but give support to the interface which can be connected by using ipad.

Reader Comments (18)

I intend to get an iRig along side a Dock Line Out cable (about £6 on ebay) which will allow me to plug my iPad's dock connector into the iRig and then into my iPod Touch. I then intend to use the ipad as a musical instrument, and record it all on the ipod touch.

January 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJames Hall

Hi James - that sounds like a good idea. When you have it set up perhaps you would let us know how well it works for you?

Thanks for commenting!

January 13, 2011 | Registered CommenteriPad Creative

Great review guys. I have the iRig going through the AmpKit app atvthe moment as I do prefer that app bit didnt know about it till after I bought iRig. Question though:
I use it at my church in the band I use a clean sound with a nice lot of reverb and slight delay. It does seem to feedback if turned up to anywhere near the levels I need it. I though only with distortion it would do that. Would AmpKit Link stop that and enable me tonnage a louder sound with a clean setting with no feedback? Am I right in thinking that only applied when adding crunch/distortion in your review?
Advice would be very much appreciated!
Cheers!

January 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMatt

Hi Matt - we have to admit that we have not had an opportunity to try these interfaces out at a larger venue or over a house PA. In theory the AmpKit LiNK *should* help to minimise the feedback but at such high volumes to fill a Church we cannot definitely say, as the feedback may be coming from something else. Are you able to borrow one, or return it if you find it is not any better?

Sorry we cannot give you a definite answer Matt but we would like to hear from you if you try the AmpKit LiNK, whatever the outcome.

Thank you for commenting!

January 13, 2011 | Registered CommenteriPad Creative

thank you sharing

January 15, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterblackberry servisi

Thx for the comparison article. I would have liked a bit more in depth talk on the software options and utilities in the apps though. I use AmpKit+ and is very happy with it, but the 4 Track recorder in Ampkitube looks promising, but you don't mention this in this article... I still aren't sure if it's worth it to pay for the full iPad version of AmpliTube just for this feature though...

January 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJan J

Hi Jan - our focus for this post was the interfaces and how they compare but we are waiting on a full version of AmpKit to compare with AmpliTube.

There are 8 tracks on the iPad version in Amplitube as well so it is quite an attractive prospect, especially with the new vocal effects too.

January 15, 2011 | Registered CommenteriPad Creative

What amp settings/effx did you guys use for ampkit for both clean/distorted sounds? and what speakers did you use with ampkit/amplitude? thanks

January 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterVeji

Thanks for the comparison guys. This reaffirms my decision to buy the AmpKit Link.

January 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSleep

@Veji - We mentioned the presets we used for most of the samples in the write-up but if you are interested in any particular sample or sound please ask and we will have a look at the original settings for you.

As for speakers, the samples on SoundCloud are recorded in-app and we heard them through headphones but our comments about feedback reduction with the AmpKit LiNK also apply to tests we did using both a Crate guitar amp at high volume and a more everyday test environment using a home cinema amp external audio input.

If that is not what you meant please let us know, thanks for commenting.

January 15, 2011 | Registered CommenteriPad Creative

Thanks for an excellent objective review. I own both the Amplitube and the Peavey apps but only have the iRig interface. I too found significant feedback when using the iRig with the higher output Ampkit models. Given that iRig works perfectly well with it's own app, could it be that the distortion experienced when using iRig with Ampkit is a result of some form of electrical mismatch (impedance/resistance?) rather than a quality issue?

Also, the Ampkit software purchasing option mean that bundling of amps and stomp boxes is really the only economic option - kind of an all or nothing purchasing model. I wish this wasn't the case as I am not a big fan of some of the metal amps on offer. As to which gets my vote, I liked them both and I couldn't really pick one over the other, so I bought both.

Having said all that, I won't be trading-in my Fender 60 watt Hotrod Deville valve amp any time soon, because real valves have that 'touch' that digital still hasn't quite got yet.

January 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBeaconAust

@BeaconAust Yes, it could be as you say, we still like the iRig a lot and we have had it in our possession longer so we know it works well with most other apps.

As you know the apps themselves are quite different and their approach to settings vary so we have focussed here more on the interfaces, but we have a comparison in the pipeline for the apps as soon as we can get to it. These things take time to do properly though. :-)

As far as ditching the tube amp... Analogue is always going to sound better there we think, there is nothing like the actual sound of warm valves and a solid cab to put the digital stuff to shame!

January 18, 2011 | Registered CommenteriPad Creative

I am a vocalist and I'm thinking about purchasing one of the two for use in live performances. I usually accompany dance music such as drum and bass n dub step at extremely loud volumes and am particualry interested to know how they would respond in such situations. Would either of them be up to the job?

May 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLee

Hi Lee - It would depend on your setup and what app you would be using really. Their intended purpose is not really vocals so we can't be sure how well they would respond to your particular situation. If you are specifically looking for something to connect to an iOS device there is the iRig Mic primarily aimed at vocalists which may suit you better.

May 9, 2011 | Registered CommenteriPad Creative

I recently bought the irig and set it up through iPads Garagband app. I am experiencing EXTREME levels of feedback in the Metal settings, which is hat I play, mostly. I have tried both the amplitude and amp kit apps, and I cannot get rid of the ear-splitting feedback. I listened to the sound samples from the article. How do i get them? I have tried everything. What do I do to get a heavy distorted sound that doesn't blow my ears off with feedback?

PLEASE HELP!!!!!!!

May 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterVulnre

@Vulnre - Without knowing your exact setup or app settings it is hard to say. It's unusual to have screeching feedback but we did get some with iRig into AmpKit's extreme metal setup. It fed back straight away!

This is where the AmpKit LiNK helped, but we still have to keep the input gain right down plus using Noise Gate.

Another thing to check is your headphones. Are you using the iPhone headphones or other headset with a microphone built in? This has been known to cause extra feedback problems.

The only other thing we can suggest if you haven't already is to experiment with the input gain especially in the app settings and enable the noise gate with a high percentage.

This is how we got the feedback under control but it was only the extreme settings we had a problem with.

May 13, 2011 | Registered CommenteriPad Creative

@vulnre I had the exact same problem as you - the solution lies in a bit of fine tuning.

1). Reduce the volume of the iPad to below 75% - below 50 is better but then the volume is too low.
2) in Amp Kit press on the bottom right hand corner of the amp - this will allow you to adjust the input and output levels. Begin to drop the output level and eventually the screech will disappear.

I'm currently playing around with a friends irig and contemplating buying my own but with everything I have read the peavey amp link is the best way to go. MAYBE I should just save my money and get a digital input thou... It's a real shame that neither of these input devices provide the quality that could be used live...

Hope this was helpful...

December 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSalman

Hey i want to buy the irig stomp and use the ampkit app is that possible is it compatible??

January 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGraham Austin

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Post:
 
All HTML will be escaped. Hyperlinks will be created for URLs automatically.