New Amplitube iRig HD interface

iRig HD with iPhone and AmpliTubeIn my series on building your own iDevice Guitar Interface, I demonstrated an interface which connects through the headphone/microphone jack.  This is similar to the commercial products like IK Multimedia Amplitube iRig, Peavey AmpKit Link, Griffin GuitarConnect.   And like all those, it works well, but it is not the most high-fidelity solution.

There are also a number of products that instead connect using the dock connector on the bottom of the iDevice, for example the Apogee Jam, Sonoma GuitarJack, Alesis iO Dock and Line 6 Mobile In.  These interfaces have their own A/D converters, and pass the signal digitally to the iDevice providing higher quality audio.   The downside is that you can’t charge the iDevice on battery while using the interface, which may be an issue for live performance and recording.

There’s a new contender in the dock-connected interfaces, and it looks pretty nice: the IK Multimedia iRig HD.  In appearance, it looks very similar to the Apogee Jam.  I prefer this style of interface, rather than the Sonoma, and Line 6 approach which have the entire unit hanging off the dock – that seems very precarious and likely to break the dock. 

iRig HD connector cabllesAlso, at $99 the iRig HD is cheaper than the $129 Apogee Jam.  If you have a newer iDevice with the lighting connector, the iRig HD is an even better deal, as it includes the lightning adapter cables as well as the older-style 30-pin connecter, and also a USB connector for use with a computer.

All that said, I’m perfectly happy with my DIY interface for practice, but if I was using it for recording or live performance, I might consider buying this iRig HD.

GarageBand feedback resolution

Some users of guitar interface cables like my DIY cable project have noticed an unreasonable amount of feedback when using Apple’s GarageBand iPad app. 

Good news- Apple rolled out an update to GarageBand yesterday which appears to resolve this. 

Garage Band Update

Thanks PaulB for letting me know!

Assembling the iDevice Guitar Interface

Update: 10/19/2011, added links to part #s at radioshack, mouser and mammoth.

Here’s the exciting conclusion to the series, following up the intro in Part 1, and the electronics course in Part 2.

The main goal here is to cram all the parts into the narrow confines of the jack, so we don’t need to use an external box or enclosure.

In addition to the cable and jack parts listed in Part 1, here are some of the things you’ll need:

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Simple JFET Preamp for an iDevice Guitar Interface

iPad Guitar Interface SchematicFollowing up on Part 1, it’s time now to get into the heart of the project:

In this video, I talk about how JFET’s work, then work up a circuit diagram (as shown at right).

Then, I prototype the circuit on the breadboard of my Radioshack Electronics Learning Lab Model 28-280, and finally play through the circuit to show how it sounds.


In Part 3, I’ll demonstrate how to assemble the circuit so that it fits entirely inside the jack.

Here are some useful resources and background reading:

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Building an iDevice Guitar Interface Cable

Amplitube on the iPad 2A few months back, I purchased the ultimate unnecessary-but-awesome gadget: the iPad 2.

With the availability of apps like Amplitube, AmpKit, and Garage Band, it’s immediately obvious how this device can be an amazing guitar learning and practicing tool.  I’ll talk more about that in another article.   But before you can plug in your guitar, you need a special interface…

Before we talk about building our own device, let’s consider the alternative.  There are a number of commercial interface products available.  The less expensive ones plug in through the headphone/microphone jack like IK Multimedia Amplitube iRigPeavey AmpKit LinkGriffin GuitarConnect.  That’s the type of device we’ll be building.  Then there are also the higher quality, more expensive products that have their own A/D converters and plug in using the dock connector- like Apogee JamSonoma GuitarJackAlesis iO Dock, Line 6 Mobile In and IK Multimedia iRig HD.

In part 1 of this 3-part video series, I introduce the project- how to make your own impedance matching, buffered guitar interface for the Apple iPad, iPod touch and iPhone.   These iDevices all share a similar headphone/microphone jack specification, so this circuit should work with all of them.

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