Splurging for the paid apps will allow you to get the most out of the GuitarJack Model 2. For the iPhone 4S, the FourTrack
application is available if you're willing to shell out ten bucks. This software essentially converts your iPhone (or iPod touch and iPad, according to the company) into a mobile 4-track recording station with WiFi sync capabilities to get those new licks on your desktop for further editing. If an Apple slate is your recording weapon of choice, you'll need to spring for StudioTrack
. For $20, this software will enable 8-track recording on an iPad via the tablet's built-in microphone or add-on audio interfaces like the GuitarJack. Wireless syncing is also available, as is the ability to load captured tracks into DAW software (like Pro Tools or Cubase) to further refine that new demo.
Recording and general use
To put the GuitarJack version 2.0 through the wringer, we used FourTrack
as our application of choice. Capturing guitar licks was pretty straightforward and we used a set of noise-canceling headphones to monitor our face-melting tones right off the side of the adapter. Once we were through capturing our riffs, we were able to check our progress via the iPhone's speaker after unplugging the kit. We plucked the strings of both a Washburn acoustic electric and a Parker Nitefly M. Each time we had to pause our session to take a call or answer an email, the software remembered settings and we were able to pick up right where we left off. The WiFi sync feature worked well, as we snagged freshly recorded tracks from our desktop in a few relatively painless steps.
We grew increasingly fond of GuitarTone
as well. Yes, we doubt you'd want to invest a couple Benjamins in hardware and software for the sole purpose of going deaf playing "Everlong" with Dave Grohl. There is some practical use, though, in that you can avail yourself of all the amp and effects expansion packs you purchase back in FourTrack when you're ready to record some original material or a remixed cover. It doesn't have
to be all business, all the time, does it?
We've also taken the Apogee Jam for a spin and have found it offers features the GuitarJack doesn't, and vice versa. The Jam works best with GarageBand
on an iPad or Mac and therein lies a key difference: desktop / laptop connectivity. However, with Apogee's $99 offering, you can only record one input device at a time while the GuitarJack offers instrument and mic capturing simultaneously. Both peripherals capture a digital signal that cuts down on pesky noise one might run into with similar analog recording devices. The two units also feature gain controls as well -- the GuitarJack's level is altered via iOS app, while the Jam features and on-board dial. You'll also have to keep up with a couple of extra cables with the Jam, whereas the Jack is an all-in-one solution – a pretty nice perk, if you ask us. In terms of sound quality, the GuitarJack holds a bit of an advantage when each peripheral is tested with its recommended software. The adapter doesn't win in a landslide, though, and it'd be worth your time to consider both before committing.
On the surface, the Guitar Jack Model 2 is a handsome, well-built adapter for capturing ideas for that new EP in both instrumental and vocal form. The machined aluminum housing made the peripheral not only looks nice, but it also alleviated some fears about damaging the kit in a gear bag or backpack. The recommend software performs well and the base models don't put too much strain on the ol' wallet. But there lies an issue with this bad boy: the cost. At $149, you won't come in too far under a dedicated 4-track recorder, but you'll keep a piece of burlier tech out of the mix. So, it really is all about being compact and mobile -- two traits we prefer when it comes to tech.
With that said, the $50-plus premium you'll pay for this over the Apogee Jam is a sound investment only
if you're going to be recording both vocals and an instrument simultaneously on the regular. If you're a guitar player without a decent set of pipes (think Angus Young), you may want to consider a less expensive offering that focuses more on your axe's tone. Even if you chose to spend your money here, you can expect above-average audio recording, along with a kit that's easy on the eyes as well.