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A serious limitation of devices like iRig and Tascam's iXZ

 
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avj
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 25, 2012 3:58 pm    Post subject: A serious limitation of devices like iRig and Tascam's iXZ Reply with quote

I had long thought they were stupid, overpriced devices, but I've had an iPad for a few months now and have been using Animoog, Funkbox, and ReBirth extensively with the band and loving it. It's been an incredible experience so far, but I was curious how it would be to record with it after watching a YouTube video for GarageBand ($5!) and having a holy shit moment. I purchased an iRig device (the analog input interface, not the MIDI) last week so I could have an audio input option on the iPad, which is admittedly a bit silly when I already have a perfectly-working recording setup that already exists. I was more inspired by the prospect of doing something new with a previously-unexplored setup.

While the iRig works great, I did notice an interesting limitation with it and any other devices that utilize the headphone jack for input -- like the Tascam iXZ -- and I wanted to share my findings.

Because the input connector for these types of devices is a simple TRS, there's a crapload of crosstalk between the in and out; I noticed this right away when recording in GarageBand on the iPad. For example, if you have headphones plugged into the iRig's headphone jack while you're recording, there will be a slight bleed of whatever you're hearing back through your headphones onto the track you're recording to. This is a massive problem if you're, say, trying to record quiet vocals to a scratch guitar or drum track that you intend to remove or replace later, as the bleed of the original tracks will be present on your vocal track.

The only way to work around this is to mute all tracks during recording, but that's a terrible workaround. If you can't sing along/play along with what's already recorded, what's the damned point? I also thought of using a visual metronome that's clocked to the same BPM as the project and lining it up later. This is terrible as well, because you end up singing a cappella without the benefit of any emotion created by meshing with the recorded material.

I ended up getting along just fine because the recording I was working on leant itself to a more stripped-down feel with single takes and no editing, but I still view this as a very serious limitation for anyone trying to do anything slightly advanced with any of the multitrack recording programs for iOS devices. I guess it would be easy enough to dismiss this entire thing by saying, "No big deal, no one should be expecting great results with this kind of setup made of cheap toys," but that's missing the point.

It appears the best solution are the interfaces that run into the dock connector. They are a bit pricier, and one may question why a person would spend ~$100 USD on such things when there are more serviceable solutions that involve actual computers, but I actually quite enjoy the simple experience of recording on the iPad and may invest in one of these types of interfaces. I used it to start recording a cover of Neutral Milk Hotel's "Oh Comely" for the comp, but stupidly realized it had been claimed by ends and decided to finish it anyway for personal consumption.

Here are a few of the dock connector interfaces I found:

Tascam iU2
Sonoma Wire Works Guitar Jack
Apogee Jam
Line 6 Mobile In

In short: For the best results while recording, don't use any of the audio interfaces for Apple iOS devices that rely on the headphone jack for I/O; there's a lot of crosstalk. Use a device that utilizes the 30-pin dock connector.
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Doog
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 25, 2012 4:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As a matter of possible interest, I got the Peavey 'AmpKit Link' which plugs in like the iRig, but it uses 2 AAA batteries to supposedly limit that. I guess it's a buffer of some kind. Works pretty good for me, although huge levels of gain do seem to make for some slight oddness.
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avj
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 25, 2012 4:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Neato! I was only slightly aware of the Peavey based on your past discussion of it, but shamefully I did zero research before purchasing the iRig. I was waiting for the missus while she was in a beauty shop, so I popped into a Radio Shack, saw the iRig on sale, had a swirly little thought bubble of one particular YouTube video that featured some dapper fellow using it, and threw down the cash. Straight away I noticed the crosstalk, did some research, and discovered this is a problem with all passive devices.

In fairness to the manufacturer, things like the iRig and the AmpKit were likely designed only for realtime guitar input processing where crosstalk is not an issue, not for some baldy beardo's weekend recording jag.

Have you tried recording with the AmpKit, or have you used it strictly for realtime processing? It's only a few dollars more than I paid for the iRig, and the prices on the 30-pin interfaces are a bit more than I'm realistically willing to pay for this kind of setup. The ideal piece of gear would be the Alesis IO Dock as it has a ton of proper I/O for audio and MIDI, but they are getting massively crapped upon by customers because it doesn't work well with iOS 5.
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 25, 2012 6:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great quality posts.
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avj
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 25, 2012 6:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I really need to visit and participate in the RT&T section here more often. I spend a considerable amount of time recording and nerding out about recording, but not much here for some reason. So much great information and a great place for brain dumps and science drops.
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Doog
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 25, 2012 7:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

avj wrote:
Have you tried recording with the AmpKit, or have you used it strictly for realtime processing? It's only a few dollars more than I paid for the iRig, and the prices on the 30-pin interfaces are a bit more than I'm realistically willing to pay for this kind of setup. The ideal piece of gear would be the Alesis IO Dock as it has a ton of proper I/O for audio and MIDI, but they are getting massively crapped upon by customers because it doesn't work well with iOS 5.


Admittedly, it's all real-time stuff so far; the free versions of Amplitude and Peavey's Ampkit app don't allow for multitrack recording and it doesn't feel like something I'd make much use of, despite of the relatively low price of the apps.
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 25, 2012 7:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Doog wrote:
avj wrote:
Have you tried recording with the AmpKit, or have you used it strictly for realtime processing? It's only a few dollars more than I paid for the iRig, and the prices on the 30-pin interfaces are a bit more than I'm realistically willing to pay for this kind of setup. The ideal piece of gear would be the Alesis IO Dock as it has a ton of proper I/O for audio and MIDI, but they are getting massively crapped upon by customers because it doesn't work well with iOS 5.


Admittedly, it's all real-time stuff so far; the free versions of Amplitude and Peavey's Ampkit app don't allow for multitrack recording and it doesn't feel like something I'd make much use of, despite of the relatively low price of the apps.


Gotcha. I can't imagine multitrack recording would be a very joyous endeavor on an iPhone, especially when you have something semi-portable and gobs more capable like (if I remember correctly) the Zoom R16 at hand. I had doubts and thought it would function as an adorable little way to capture ideas, but using GarageBand on the iPad feels like the future, man. It has its limitations, but Apple have done well creating a simple and pleasant experience with the interface.

The setup also offers something I can't do when using the computer-based recording rig: the ability to take the rig to my gear. The missus was out Friday night and I had taken over the kitchen table with synths, pedals, and madness, and I was dreading having to move the setup to the spare room where I have the proper recording rig; instead, I thought I'd give the iPad/GB a shot and it was great. It was one of those inspiring experiences where I was learning and creating and having a great time doing it, which is hopefully why we're all doing this in the first place. Money well spent.
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avj
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 25, 2012 8:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is also kind of deviating a bit, but with regard to recording on iOS devices, there's also the option of using Apple's criminally-priced Camera Connection Kit and a standard USB interface of your choosing. I'm not exactly sure when it was added, but apparently support for class-compliant interfaces via Core Audio is now in iOS.

The only downside is the iOS devices won't provide bus power, so you need a powered USB hub. At that point it seems everything ceases to be a nice, portable package.
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 24, 2012 9:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have the ampkit and the irig and wasn't super happy. The guitarjack by sonoma wire works is pricey but it works a whole lot better. I also use fourtrack app by sonoma and the multitrack works surprisingly well. The guitarjack connects like a camera kit and it has gain controls through the software that work well. I find that if i run a guitar into my tech21 para and then into a rat or a muff and then into my phone that the tone is really good. It really surprised me.
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 25, 2012 3:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just got the iRig Stomp along with iKlip to mount the iPad on the mic stand. I am going to try it out next week as a possible replacement for my amp at my small church gig.

The iRig stomp gives lots more output options to amps and mixers when the original iRig only does headphones. Like the original iRig, it uses the TRS input and runs great on a normal 9V adapter except for the 1Spot, which added lots of noise to the signal. I have not played with the multitrack recorder yet since I use Amplitube in a practice/live application.

I am also told you can use the Apple USB camera connector as a cheaper USB interface.

Any chance they would make a TRS to USB connector so I could still use the iRig Stomp and get rid of the cross talk?


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 25, 2012 1:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

no idea but i'm curious to see how the istomp does. It seems like you would really streamline your equipment if it works. Thanks
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2012 4:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I tried out the iRig Stomp and iPad at the gig on Tuesday and I have to say I was pretty impressed. It sounded really good and being able to change between amps with a touch of your finger is really cool. I just plugged it into the normal acoustic plug that goes into the direct box. All the sound came through the front monitor. It should sound better when the regular sound guy gets back. A lot of the noise I was hearing in my headphones at home was barely noticeable on stage.

This setup will really pair down the amount of gear I will need to bring.
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