Cool YouTube Trick!

Screen Shot 2016-06-29 at 5.00.39 PM

Did you know you can alter the playback speed of videos on YouTube? It’s a great tool to use when trying to learn new parts. Not only do you get to hear a guitar part slowed down, but you can also get a better look at fretboard fingerings, if the cameraman was nice enough to focus where it really counts.

To slow down or speed up the video, click the Settings gear at the bottom of the video window and select an option under “Speed.”

iRig Acoustic – A unique recording interface from IK Multimedia

irigacoustic_main_imageIK Multimedia, a pioneer in mobile music interfaces, recently released a very unique recording interface designed specifically for acoustic instruments and that is compatible with iOS, Android and Mac or PC desktops. The iRig Acoustic, unlike most acoustic recording solutions, is designed to mount easily directly inside the sound hole of your instrument. This fact alone takes a lot of the guesswork out of acoustic recording, as you don’t need to worry at all about proper mic placement.

Beyond the convenience of simple mic placement, the iRig Acoustic offers features that make for a really convenient approach. The mic itself features a compact design with a rubberized clip that hooks over the edge of your sound hole. There’s also a generously long wire that connects your mic to the device via a standard 1/8″ plug. The wire is very thin and light, so it’s pretty unobtrusive.

The design of the microphone capsule itself if probably where most of the magic happens. It’s a MEMS microphone, which stands for MicroElectrical-Mechanical System. The technology is actually borrowed from smartphone microphone design, so this is a really interesting adaptation.

The second piece of the puzzle with the iRig Acoustic is a companion mobile app, Amplitube Acoustic, that is designed for processing and recording sound from acoustic guitars or ukuleles. The app starts with a calibration process that lets you attune the microphone to your specific instrument. After that, you have the option to run your signal through a variety of virtual effects ranging from basic compressors and equalizers to more experimental options like body modelers. With the body modeler, you can make an orchestra model sound like a Jumbo body or vice versa. There is also a 12-string modeler and an effect to make your guitar sound like a bass.

The Amplitube app also has a recording function, but you can also pass the app’s audio over to a more full-featured DAW such as Garageband.

I’m sure what you’re actually interested in hearing are sound samples, and I recorded a bunch for you using both a guitar and a ukulele. Before I get to them, I’ll cover the one quibble I have with the design of the device. The rubberized clamp on the guitar is clearly designed to fit a majority of guitars with a regular sound hole and not-so-thick top. I happen to have an archtop guitar with a carved top, however, and the clip did not fit over the edge of the wood. I was able to use it by wedging the mic into a thinner part of the f-hole on the guitar, but it was not an idea setup.

Despite that, hopefully you’ll agree that the sound quality is great. The iRig Acoustic does a great job of capturing the unique voice of each instrument. Listen to the samples below and judge for yourself. The iRig Acoustic is available from major music retailers and you can find out more information on the IK Multimedia website.

Guitar – Loar LH700 Archtop

Guitar – Takamine OM-style Body

Ukulele

Sonoma Wire Works Releases Guitarjack Stage

guitarjackstagemain-821×589px

If you’re in the market for a high-quality audio interface and pedal controller for either your desktop or mobile devices, you will be interested to hear that Sonoma Wire Works has released the long-awaited GuitarJack Stage. The device transforms your Mac, PC, iOS or Android device into a full-on guitar amp and effects rig.

We’ve reviewed Sonoma’s GuitarJack interface here before, so you can be sure to expect a rugged design that delivers high-quality audio no matter what device you plug it into.

GuitarJack Stage lets you control your favorite guitar software on stage and in the studio with assignable knobs and foot switches. The aluminum chassis features a mono Hi-Z ¼” input for guitar, a stereo mic/line ¼” input for vocals or keyboards, 2 analog input level knobs with LED metering, an expression pedal jack to control wah, volume, or other effects, 2 line level ¼” outputs (left and right) for monitors, amps, or a mixer, 1 stereo ¼” output for headphones, plus 5 Knobs, 4 foot switches, and 4 LEDs to control MIDI enabled software.

External power is required only to charge an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, or reduce power consumption for compatible Android devices, while you play.

GuitarJack Stage is shipping now to U.S. addresses. Information on international availability is coming soon. Visit the Sonoma Wire Works website for more information.

BIAS FX for iPad

Ratings_1Positive Grid released BIAS FX today, an iPad app they have been teasing for the last few weeks. Invoking the name BIAS naturally got a lot of people excited, because their BIAS AMP simulator app is arguably the best amp simulator on iOS. I’m afraid a lot of people are going to be left scratching their head after paying $29.99 for this new app, however…

As soon as I heard about the new app, my immediate question was – How is this going to be different from Positive Grid’s existing multi-effects simulator app JamUp Pro? JamUp already lets you pretty seamlessly put a pedal board in front of a BIAS amp. Would BIAS FX let you pop open the virtual cases on the pedals and do a virtual Keeley mod on a virtual Tube Screamer? Would it revolutionize the sharing process? Would the sound quality be significant improved enough to warrant paying $10 more than I already paid for JamUp?

Having played with a review copy for a few days, I can tell you the answer to all of these questions is no.

BIAS FX promises “extremely intuitive operation” and unrivalled, component-level simulation with analog-like sound quality. While it’s not impossible to figure out how to add new effects and turn them on and off, there are icon-only buttons all over the interface that you have to guess what they do. If you’ve used other similar apps, you’ll figure it out on your own, but it wouldn’t have killed Positive Grid to put a few introductory slides at the beginning to help people get acclimated.

Perhaps most disappointing is that BIAS FX seems to have taken a step back in terms of integration with the BIAS AMP app. The app’s description on iTunes very explicitly states “12 classic BIAS amps, import any amp models from BIAS AMP.” Half of that is right. You can select from 12 built-in apps that are drawn from BIAS AMP and that can be edited just like BIAS amps. However, I see no way to import other BIAS amps into the BIAS FX amp slots. That’s hugely disappointing for me, because my favorite Dumble amp is not among the 12 they chose to include. Now, it is possible to plop a BIAS amp into the signal chain using Inter App Audio, but using that method does not allow you to use the dual amp setup BIAS FX is capable of.

What people will likely be most interested in, and willing to pay a premium for, is sound quality. If I was going to pay nearly $30 for another new multi-fx app, I would really expect the sound quality to blow me away. This does not. The dual amp capability is nice and certainly noticeable, but the sound, to me, does not sound radically different from JamUp. One specific example is the Acoustic Simulator. Positive Grid released an update last June that added an acoustic simulator amp that will honestly blow your mind. (If you haven’t heard it yet, check out the samples linked to from Our Review.) BIAS FX has an acoustic simulator too. You’d expect it to be at least as good, right? Nope.

And since they chose to create a new multi-fx app instead of just expanding on their already successful JamUp product, I expected somehow for there to be more choices in terms of the pedals you could choose from. There are not. By my count there are about 50 pedals available in JamUp Pro, when you include extra available as in-app purchases. At launch, BIAS FX only has about 28. My guess is they will add more, probably as in-app purchases, down the road, but right now it feels very limited.

It will be interesting to see what happens. It’s a brand new product, so there are likely some kinks to work out and Positive Grid has certainly shown they’re capable of great things in the past. For now, however, I’d hold off on buying this one. Stick with JamUp. It’s 75% off right now anyway, so it’s only $4.99.

Positive Grid Releases BIAS 1.5

NewsPositive Grid just released an update to it’s popular BIAS amp modeling app for iOS. The 1.5 version update brings with it three eagerly awaited expansion packs – Glassy, Crunch and Insane. Each expansion pack is available as an in-app purchase for $9.99 and adds dedicated preamp and power amp modules optimized for various playing styles and tone.

Continue reading

Positive Grid Releases New JamUp And We’re Giving Away BIAS To Celebrate!

NewsA new version of Positive Grid’s very popular JamUp software is now live in the iOS App Store! The new app includes what sounds like an amazing acoustic guitar simulator, as part of an Acoustic Expansion Pack, plus an all new Vintage Effects Expansion Pack, a Gurus Amp Expansion Pack and a special BIAS amp to give people a taste of the tasty goodness that is the BIAS amp modeler.

Speaking of which… to celebrate the release of the New JamUp app, we are giving away one free copy of BIAS for iPhone! All you have to do to enter is leave a comment on this article below telling us what kind of amp you’ll build with it. Thanks to Positive Grid for sponsoring this contest! Continue reading

GuitarJack Giveaway Contest Winners!

NewsCongratulations to Brent Stewart and Teresa Maloney-Smith, the two winners of our GuitarJack Model 2 Giveaway contest! Brent will be receiving the GuitarJack Model 2 USB and Teresa will have the great iOS compatible version.

Thanks again to Sonoma Wire Works for sponsoring our first contest!

We’ve already got another great giveaway on tap. The prize in our next contest will be a free copy of Positive Grid’s amp modeling and modification app, BIAS for iPhone! Stay tuned here and on social media for details about how you can enter the next GuitarApps Contest.

Lessons From Guitarjamz To Improve Your Epic-ness

Ratings_4WAIT!!! Have you entered our contest? We’re giving away two GuitarJack 2 guitar interfaces worth $200 each. Check out the Contest Details for more information!

 

If you’ve spent any amount of time on YouTube looking for lessons to improve your guitar playing, it’s a safe bet you’ve come across at least a few lessons by charismatic guitar teacher Marty Schwartz. Between his guitarjamzdotcom and martyzsongs YouTube channels, he has more than 1,300 videos covering everything from basic concepts for beginners all the way up to advanced techniques. Since first hitting YouTube about five years ago, Marty’s videos have been viewed nearly half a billion times. That’s billion with a B. His easy going style and accessible approach to playing and music theory has helped countless people improve their playing and now he’s made it even easier by releasing the app Guitarjamz – Epic Guitar Lessons for iPhone and iPad. Continue reading

IK Multimedia’s Latest Guitar Interface – The iRig PRO

Ratings_4IK Multimedia was one of the first hardware and software developers to embrace the iPhone and iPad as viable music creation platforms and have, since releasing their introductory instrument interface the iRig in 2010, produced a whole family of products aimed at making it easier to create music on iOS devices. They have consistently improved upon the original iRig by creating devices that offer different input options, such as the iRig Mic and iRig Keys, and by improving upon the basic design and sound quality of the iRig by creating the the iRig HD, a truly digital interface that plugged into the Lightning connector instead of the headphone jack.

The latest member of the iRig family, the iRig PRO ($149.99), improves the guitar/instrument interface yet again, by expanding upon both the device’s input and output connections. The iRig PRO comes complete with a full complement of cables to connect to all iOS devices, MIDI controllers and your Mac or PC. Continue reading