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Input Gain Control
The original iRig is a budget producer’s best friend. Granted, the I/O is fairly barebones, and you don’t get a lot of physical controls and indicators, but compared to the substantially more expensive iRig 2, you get a lot for what you pay. For a much lower price, you only miss out on an Amplifier Out port, the THRU-FX slider, and some audio quality. For that, it earns a solid 10 in the category.
The iRig 2 in comparison offers better sounding preamps with less noise at higher gain settings. It also offers an additional amp output, as well as a slider to switch between processed signals from the AmpliTube app and clean audio. While you can do more with it than the older iRig, we can’t score it any higher than 9 for what it costs.
The iRig is built to be ultra-portable, which reflects in its single Instrument Input and a solitary Headphone Output. While it’s solid for what it costs, the iRig does make for a restrictive recording setup, for which it scores 7.5 in the category.
The newer iRig 2 has support for a single Hi-Z Instrument Input, as well as a Headphone and Amplifier Out each. While it’s not a lot in the grand scheme of things, it’s perfect for a small recording setup, and a notable step up from the iRig. For those reasons, the iRig 2 scores 8 in the Input/Output category.
Strumming on our Gibson R6, the sound didn’t feel compressed, and though you can’t expect studio quality for this price, the audio is really good. We’d rate the iRig higher than 7.5, but there is a hint of noise at the top end. It isn’t too apparent on clean settings, although we do recommend running a noise filter with higher gain.
The preamps on the iRig 2 are phenomenal for its price, and lets you plug into an amp, whether bypass or wet. Additionally, the recording quality is excellent, and we didn’t have any delay or noise on our guitar setup either. While the audio recording is mono, it is infinitely better than your phone’s mic. From our testing, the iRig 2 earns an 8.5 in the category.
The iRig 2 has the same noise prone ⅛” TRRS connection as the older iRig, so it shares the same score of 7.5 for its less stable connection as well.
The iRig absolutely knocked it out of the park, loading just the right features at the right price. While it only comes with the AmpliTube App, the software has plenty of amp models to choose from, and the effects it contains are very useful. Still, it’s not a lot of features, which is why we can’t score the interface any higher than 7.5.
Like the iRig, the newer iRig 2 comes with the free AmpliTube app, which offers decent distortion sounds, and more than enough clean tones. In addition, it also has a physical THRU-FX slider to switch between processed sound from the AmpliTube software and clean signals. For those reasons, we give the iRig 2 a score of 8 above the iRig.
Based on our testing and scoring model, the clear winner between the two is the iRig 2 with an average total of 8.2. Purely off sound quality, we loved how amazing the iRig 2 sounded with so little latency, especially with more control over functions such as gain than the original iRig. Playing back from the preamps, we were surprised at how well it sounded and how little it needed done to it. Though it doesn’t replace an amp, it does the job well enough.
With the iRig, you don’t get a lot of the same bells and whistles, but the audio quality is still great for the price. In comparison, the iRig 2 is not as value for money as the iRig, but it does offer a few more features.
The iRig 2 is sturdy, light, unobtrusive, and doesn’t have excessive switches. Plus, it has the option of listening directly through studio headphones as you strum, or even route it through studio monitors or an amp. Additionally, since you get AmpliTube for free, there’s a ton of amp simulations to get just the tone you want. We would have appreciated a digital USB connection to counter interference, but for the price, we really can’t complain.
If the budget isn’t an issue, the extra amp output, superior sound quality, and the addition of the THRU-FX toggle offer a bit more flexibility to your recordings than the older iRig. From what we’ve seen, the iRig 2 is a phenomenal portable companion for any portable recording setup!