IK Multimedia has been a mainstay of iOS music making from the very beginning, and on the vanguard of Android music making since the OS began offering capabilities to make it feasible. Now they are taking the next step with iRig UA, an audio interface that brings the classic iRig/AmpliTube combination to Android devices at last!
iRig UA provides high-quality sound and zero-latency real-time audio processing for nearly any Android smartphone or tablet (running 4.2 or later, OTG USB mode). This is all thanks to its ingenious design that utilizes an on-board digital signal processor (or DSP) to move all audio processing onto the iRig UA, providing zero-latency performance and a truly superior playing experience. In addition, iRig UA can also be used as a digital recording interface when connected to a Samsung Professional Audio compatible device with Android 5.0.
Simply put: iRig UA represents a new stage in the mobile music revolution first started by the initial release of iRig and AmpliTube for iOS in 2010. So now for the first time ever, players can plug their guitar or bass into their Android device and rock with AmpliTube tone anywhere, anytime.
- A 32-bit DSP-driver amp modeling and effects system you can control via Android OS
- Hardware DSP ensures an ultra-low latency of approximately 2ms round trip
- Included AmpliTube UA app offers access to a many amplifier models and effects
- Onboard preamp and headphone output let you plug in and play
- Aux input lets you jam along to your favorite tunes
- Record directly on Android 5.0 and Samsung Professional Audio Devices
- AmpliTube UA control app requires Android device with host mode/USB OTG
Here is the original trailer from IK Multimedia:
To be honest, IK Multimedia has come a long way in terms of hardware quality for their products. This means that their current products are very good, but also that they have had some rough spots over the years. Fortunately the iRig line of products has always been solid, and that continues here – the build quality is quite good, with a solid albeit plastic feel that tells me that I can easily expect this to work for me in a few years – just as my original iRig is still doing great a couple of years after I handed it off to my brother.
To interface with the iRig UA, you simply plug your guitar into one side of the iRig, connect the other to headphones or an external speaker, and use the micro-USB connector to your Android device. It really is that simple – the app will recognize the attached device, so just plug in and get going!
Another great feature is the headphone output control. Missing from the original iOS version of iRig, this control allows you to trim or boost your output level to avoid unintentionally overloading your amplifier. It has become a standard feature since the first iRig and I was glad to see it included.
Something I didn’t test was the auxiliary input – if you want to jam along with music from your MP3 player you can just plug the output into iRig and the ‘clean’ signal will pass through to your amplifier alongside your guitar sound – it is one of those nice features that adds value.
AmpliTube has been around for several years and is the ‘gold standard’ of amplifier emulation software for iOS. All of the positives and negatives have been discussed thoroughly, with the positives being ease of use and sound quality, negatives very often revolving around the expense of adding pedals and amplifiers and other features.
So the real question is – how well did they do porting this to Android? The answer is ‘mixed’. The app – even after a couple of months – is still not on par with the iOS version in terms of features or fidelity or stability. But for anyone using an Android device this will not be a huge surprise – Android has lagged way behind iOS for music, so the sad reality is that just getting a functional music system like this is a victory. And on the up-side there have already been updates that have solved several issues and I have been very pleased with the progress – and based on the iOS version I know that will continue!
The Sound and Conclusions:
The bottom line for me is the sound – if it doesn’t sound good, nothing else matters. And as you will hear in my review – the sound quality is solid. I didn’t perform exhaustive or quantitative tests, but playing with iRig UA compared to the original iRig or even the more recent (but low-end) iRig 2 there is a HUGE difference in the noise floor and clarity across the audio spectrum. Subjectively I feel that the iRig HD edges out the iRig UA for quality, but discussions on forums seem to point to the difference between the iOS and Android software being more responsible for any difference, as the audio internals are nearly identical.
Overall I was very pleased with iRig UA: the build quality is solid and should last a long time, the sound quality is also quite good, and the feature set offers decent value for the money. The AmpliTube app still lags the iOS equivalent, and lacks a tablet version – but has made considerable progress since release and would not stop me from recommending iRig UA to Android-toting guitar players!
Review: iRig UA Audio Interface
What I Like: Solid design; true low-latency audio; flexible routing; added Aux In for jam-alongs; useful volume control; good build quality.
What Needs Improvement: App still needs more work.
Source: Manufacturer provided review sample
Here is my hands-on video of the iRig UA Audio Interface: