Native Instruments Guitar Rig Mobile

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cwarkentin

David (if I may): I appreciate your insights and the short conversation we've had here. Your Guitar Rig Mobile article caught me at the beginning of my "learning curve" as a hobbyist/amateur electric guitar player, and by now both the article and your follow-up comments have proven more helpful to me than I originally recognized. I also found your "Plug In, Amp Up" article very informative and helpful. I look forward to exploring some of the resources you mention therein, and will recommend that article to other folks. Since posting my original comment, above, I have also purchased a good USB audio interface for $99 -- the E-MU 0202 USB. Among other features, it sports 24-bit/192kHz A/D and D/A converters and two Class-A preamps. I'm sure it comes as no surprise to you that, since hooking up my new interface, I've experienced a rather dramatic improvement in sound quality! That said, despite my final decision to purchase the E-MU, I won't dispute the "good value" of the Guitar Rig Mobile setup. I'm presently trying to learn more about "impulse responses" (IRs) and how they are used in virtual guitar amps. Along those lines, you (and perhaps some MacLife readers) might be interested in checking out Studio Devil's Amp Modeler Pro and Mellowmuse's Mellowhead Guitar Sim. Thank you, and keep up the good work!

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dbiedny

So you agree that, for $100, it's hard to beat the Guitar Rig Mobile interface. Heck, a $100 "Rolls Royce" is a great deal, in my book, and the fact is that the software is icing on the cake. Anyone using something like GarageBand should know all about the universe of Audio Units plugins that work with it - as I wrote about in this feature:

http://www.maclife.com/article/feature/plug_amp

Lots of cool software tone modifiers to run your guitar signal through, no lack of tonal colors and options.

I can appreciate that you might want to spend an extra $100 on a better guitar, but what if you _already_ own a guitar? And, just for the record, even though I have more than a few instruments, I find myself turning more and more to my Line 6 Variax 300, which I picked up new for $299 (they were blowing out the red models), an insanely good deal. Guitar tone starts with the guitar and physical interface, so I don't think it makes any sense to skimp on either, and for $100, I contend that there is no better hardware interface than the GR Mobile.

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cwarkentin

You're correct, dbiedny. Using a cheap adapter is not an ideal setup. GTR Solo is also a bit pricey and (of course) is only "free" for a year, at which time trial users will have to pony up the cash or switch apps. But I'm just a hobbyist on a limited budget, who likes to noodle around on the guitar in his free time. For folks like me, it might be better to sink $100 into a better guitar and use a cheap adapter with GarageBand than to spend that $100 on Native Instruments Guitar Rig Mobile. That said, as you point out, the cheap adapter setup will inevitably prove inadequate for more serious-minded musicians! I've encountered the problems you mention, but so far these haven't been too troublesome. I know I'll eventually need to get a decent audio interface or hardware/software package, but when I do it probably won't be Guitar Rig Mobile. Admittedly, this interface is a humdinger and I'm not aware of anything else with such high quality "guts" for this price. But I don't need "Rolls Royce" hardware and the "LE" version of Guitar Rig is just too limited. Most likely, I'll end up with something that offers me more "bang for the buck" -- like the Lexicon Alpha (if I just need a USB interface) or the Line 6 GuitarPort (if I need a hardware/software package).

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dbiedny

So I have to disagree with you regarding the $3 Radio Shack adapter issue, like so many other guitar players looking to save some money, I tried that route years ago, as did a few of my friends, to discover the same problem that invariable crops up - the impedance of the mic pre circuitry in the audio input of a Mac is nowhere near that required for a Hi-Z instrument like an electric guitar. Attempting to compensate for the drop in volume in such a situation drives the noise floor through the roof, and trashes the guitar's natural tone. While I can't comment on the Waves GTR Solo software, I've never been thrilled with their licensing strategies, and their stuff has traditionally been fairly expensive (though they do make some nice-sounding plugs, I'll say that). If you know of some guitar-specific audio interfaces with Cirrus Logic A/D converter chips that cost less than the Guitar Rig, we'd all love to know about them, I've not heard of any such product. In my opinion, the Guitar Rig hardware is a really great deal for under $100, the software is the icing on the cake, and of course, you can stick any plugins you want in the chain (I adore running my PRS through the amazing Uhbik flanger and spectrum analyser from U-He, those things are just sick).

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cwarkentin

Before you shell out the money for this setup, I'd recommend taking a look at Waves GTR Solo. (Google "Waves GTR Solo" for the product webpage.) GTR Solo doesn't include the interface, but it has many more features (amps, effects, presets, etc.) than Guitar Rig LE and Waves is giving away FREE 1-year licenses for GTR Solo! (The program retails for $140.) I simply plug my Schecter Omen 6 directly into my 2.4 GHz "white" MacBook (using a $3 adapter from Radio Shack), which works like a charm, and GTR Solo also functions wonderfully as a GarageBand plugin. (Use the drop-down menu in the "details" section of the Track Info window to access it.) You can always spring for a separate audio interface if you're looking to spend some money; there are plenty of decent choices out there for $100 or less. Finally, be warned that the Native Instruments licensing procedure can be a real headache -- forums are rife with complaints about the process. (It doesn't sound like the Mac|Life folks had problems with this, thankfully.)

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