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iRig HD 2
Input Gain Control
Headphone Volume Control
Despite the lower price tag, the iRig 2 isn’t the best bang for your buck. While you do get the same I/O as the more expensive iRig HD 2, the amp sound isn’t as crisp, and the AD/DA conversion doesn’t sound as good either. However, if you don’t want to spend extra for slightly better sound, a headphone output dial, and software you might not need, the iRig 2 is a solid choice. We give the interface a rock solid 9/10.
If you’re willing to bridge the price, the iRig HD 2 is better value than the iRig 2. Not only do you unlock more software tools and a custom ASIO driver, but you also get a physical headphone volume control which is missing on the iRig 2. Additionally, it offers a less noisy micro-USB connection as well as crystal clear audio. For what it offers, the iRig HD 2 more than earns its 9.5 score in Price to Performance.
The iRig 2 comes with a Hi-Z instrument input, a ¼” amplifier out port, and a ⅛” headphone jack. Since the port selection is fairly limited, we couldn’t score it any higher than 8.
Like the iRig 2, the iRig HD 2 hosts a Hi-Z instrument input, a ¼” amplifier output, as well as a headphone jack. Therefore, it scores an identical 8 in the Input/Output category.
Unlike many other cheap interfaces, the iRig 2 doesn’t introduce any noise into the channel, so you get perfect, crystal clear audio with no hint of distortion. Coupled with the add-on AmpliTube app for bass, you get great sound, particularly with good EQ effects. For those reasons, the interface earns itself a solid 8 points.
The iRig HD 2 has a really clean tone, and the latency is practically non-existent. We primarily used it with our guitars and basses and the sound quality at 24-bit/96kHz is excellent for recording. With the correct gain staging, the result is better than the iRig 2, earning it a score of 8.5.
The iRig 2 uses a 3.5mm jack to connect to host devices, which is a noisier socket than digital inputs. For that reason, we give the interface a score of 7.5.
Unlike the iRig 2, the iRig HD 2 has a micro-USB connection that isn’t susceptible to as much interference. However, it’s still not as good as Lightning, or other USB sockets, which is why it scores an 8 in the category.
As far as features go, the ultra-portable iRig 2 is pretty barebones. Apart from the free version of Amplitude and a velcro slot, the interface offers a solitary THRU-FX switch for monitoring with and without FX loops. Additionally, the device doesn’t offer headphone output control apart from software, which meant we couldn’t assign it a score any higher than 7.5.
The iRig HD 2 offers the same portability and THRU-FX switch as its competitor. However, unlike the iRig 2, it comes with headphone output control, as well as some bundled software. This includes AmpliTube 5 SE, the full iOS AmpliTube app, as well as custom Windows ASIO drivers for better stability and performance. That considered, the iRig HD 2 scores an 8 in Additional Features.
Based on our scoring model, the iRig HD 2 is the clear winner with a total average score of 8.4. While both interfaces have identical I/O, minimal distortion, and a portable design, the similarities end there. When comparing the two, the iRig HD 2 is a much better bargain, and has both lower latency, as well as a much cleaner tone when driving both active and passive instruments. The sound quality is awesome when paired with AmpliTube and Tone Bridge, without the need to lug gear around.
For a mobile interface, its compatibility is commendable. We were able to connect to our MacBook, iPad, iMac as well as iPhone for recording on the go. Plus, with the bundled software, you can try out a bunch of pedals for a fraction of the cost of analog.
In addition, the HD 2 is compact, but still versatile enough to be used downstream of a mixer for running vocals as well. The THRU-FX switch also works like a charm. With the FX loop switched off, we weren’t able to detect any lag from processing the bass to our in-ear monitors. Of course, the iRig HD 2 isn’t a high-class sound card, but it is superb, easy to set up, and even comes with a custom ASIO driver, and extra software for virtual amp simulation. If you’re in the market for a great instrument interface, the iRig HD 2 has our vote of confidence!