Read the full article
This article was originally published in issue #10
To read the article in its entirety, view the digital magazine
As Apple's iOS software and hardware becomes more and more popular, companies are scrambling for opportunities to create products for guitarists. PocketLabWorks is the latest with a guitar-specific interface for the iPad/Pod/Phone. Tom Quayle checks it out...
PocketLabWorks' iRiffPort is a compact audio interface designed to provide guitar players with a high quality connection to their iOS enabled device. The unit is an all in one interface and cable design that plugs into the 30-pin connector at the bottom of your iPhone, iPad or iPod and then into the jack socket of your guitar, providing a direct signal to the application of your choice. Also provided are 3.5mm line out and headphones sockets, the latter being located next to the input jack for your guitar reducing the propensity for the headphones cable getting tangled around your instrument as you play.
The iRiffPort features a solid, moulded-plastic 30-pin connector and 6ft jack cable that feels well made and durable. As with all cables, careful use will ensure longevity but this certainly isn't a cable that you'll be able to fix using a soldering iron. I would have preferred a longer cable as I found myself almost pulling my beloved iPad onto the floor if I turned left or right too far. The 30-pin connector is also very easy to pull out by mistake and could do with a more solid connection if it's to be relied upon in a performance.
Sound quality was superb, considering the diminutive size of the unit, with no noise or clicks/pops and lots of high end frequencies present. I tested the iRiffPort using PocketLabWorks' own amp simulator Pocket Amp 2 (purchased separately and demonstrated in the accompanying video review) and was pleasantly surprised with some very usable tones ranging from sparkly cleans to aggressive metal tones. All the while the sound remained pristine and noise free with none of the horrendous feedback issues associated with similar cables that plug into the headphones socket of the iOS device.
One thing to be aware of with any of these devices is their compatibility with apps from the App Store. The iRiffport is not compatible with all the apps that are available, so it's important to check out the compatibility list on PocketLabWorks website before purchasing. The unit worked very well with Apple's Garageband app but was completely incompatible with Amplitube for example, although that may be expected, as IK Multimedia make a similar product of its own.
The ability to use amp simulators, multi-track recorders, high quality tuners and effects processors with great sound quality in such a small, portable and elegant package is very attractive. If they can sort out the connector and compatibility issues then I think this would be an irresistible buy for iOS guitarists.