iOS devices are becoming increasingly more versatile and even specialized if chosen to be. I am blown away by the uses for my devices with my guitars. From tuners to chord libraries and tabletures to effects pedals. There are numerous hardware interfaces available for iPhones and iPads allowing users to connect an electric guitar and output the sounds. I am sure some savvy musicians are even finding a way to use their iOS devices to record records and even use during live performances. For me, I love the ability to be mobile and easily practice my guitar with headphones so I do not disturb my wife and kids. The GuitarJack from Sonoma Wire Works is in its second version and is quite an upgrade. Read on for how it stacks up.
The GuitarJack is a hardware interface to connect guitars ,microphones and other hardware allowing users to listen and record in stereo using various iOS applications. It will even record instruments and voice on separate tracks simultaneously using recording applications like FourTrack. The interface is also compatible with Apple’s Garageband. All of this is done through an attractive, tough piece if hardware. The GuitarJack also includes a headphone line for practice and monitoring the sound.
- 1/4 inch (6.5 mm) instrument input – nickel-plated solid brass Switchcraft (10,000 MTBF) jack
- 1/8 inch (3.5 mm) stereo mic/line input – (no phantom power is provided)
- 1/8 inch (3.5 mm) stereo headphone/line output with increased drive for headphones
- Dock connector designed for use without removing most cases
- Device powered for ultimate portability – requires no batteries or power adapter
- GuitarJack Model 2 includes a 24-bit AD/DA Converter, however only 16-bit audio playback and recording is currently possible until a firmware update becomes available. More about 24-bit
- Sleek and rugged aluminum shell
I was pleasantly surprised with the heft and build quality of the GuitarJack. Most similar products have been made of plastic and are not as durable. While those products work fine, I found the GuitarJack’s sleek appearance and durable aluminum construction to be far superior to other offerings. In fact, when I popped the device out of the packaging the feel and weight surprised me prompting a closer look at the design. I would have no problem tossing the jack into my gear bag or guitar case and using it hard. Instead of a niche product, this thing looks and feels like a considerable piece of instrument hardware. One side of the unit presents the 1/4″ instrument input as well as a 1/8″ headphone output jack. The other side sports a 1/8″ microphone input. Both sides are encased in brushed aluminum making them durable as well as attractive. This is a gorgeous piece of hardware.
(Control Panel in GuitarTone, FourTrack, StudioTrack & TaylorEQ)
- Level Control: 60 dB of continuous level control
- Input Modes:
- Instrument (1/4 inch) – mono – Pad, Lo-Z or Hi-Z mode
- Mic/Line (1/8 inch) – mono, dual-mono or stereo – Pad, Normal or Boost mode
- Both inputs – Mic/Line input on the left channel and Instrument on the right channel
- Included Software:
- GuitarTone and TaylorEQ are available free
- GuitarJack enables additional amps and effects in GuitarToneand FourTrack now and StudioTrack (soon) while connected ($19.98 value)
The GuitarJack is simple to use. Simply connect the jack to your iOS device and start up the application. I tried out GuitarJack with all of the advertised applications without any problems immediately using my instrument. I will say that the product is best used with your iOS device lying on a flat surface. The weight of the unit makes moving around difficult to maintain a good connection. This is not necessarily a negative fact, but a personal recommendation. I will take build quality and heft any day and simply lay my device on a flat surface. All jacks held the plugs snug and tight keeping a perfect connection and the level controls work beautifully. The guitar tones I was able to obtain are no different than I get from any of my dedicated devices through headphones. Each compatible application has a setting page to allow users to fine tune the audio and make the guitar sound as clean as possible.
Any guitar player that uses iOS devices should probably look into different apps and hardware that allow them to utilize their devices. As far as the hardware end, the GuitarJack is a perfect solution. The rugged build alone is worth the price. I prefer gear that does not make me feel like it might break when I throw it into my gear bag. I use the jack primarily for practicing my electric while trying not to disturb my family, especially late at night. It could easily be used for musicians wanting to record demos or even complete albums. The sound quality is as good as using my multi-effects processor with headphones. Find out more here at the Sonoma Wireworks website.
What I like: I love that the jack is constructed with a rugged aluminum shell. It sounds great!
What could be improved: I wish all of the guitar apps would be compatible and hopefully the list keeps growing.